In Season: What else we’re doing with Eggplant

This will be the last weekend for eggplant at market and I will admit I’m sad about this. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have cared one way or the other because it was just eggplant. I didn’t “get” it. I wasn’t on board. We hadn’t found a common ground. That has changed.

Eggplant is really pretty versatile and because I’ve struggled to love it, I really believe these are wonderful recipes. Here are some you should definitely try…

The recipe below is one we made last night and LOVED! If it’s just two of you, use one eggplant and save the remaining filling for a delicious breakfast, topped with a fried egg and served with warm pita. Or make a yummy pita sandwich for lunch, adding sliced cucumbers and tzatziki. You can use beef in place of lamb, if you prefer, and probably turkey or chicken. The seasonings will need to be adjusted a little bit.

Stuffed Egpplant
* served 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplant
  • olive oil
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 Tbsp hot curry powder or regular curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes (canned fire roasted tomatoes will work if you don’t have fresh)
  • Feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Heat saute pan over medium high heat, closer to high heat.
  3. Once pan is hot, add olive oil swirling to coat.
  4. Add lamb and cook until browned, some pieces should almost be crispy. Part way through cooking, add onions, garlic, Kosher salt, and pepper.
  5. When just about finished cooking, add garam masala, cumin, coriander, and curry powder. Stir and cook for another minute or so.
  6. Stir in roasted tomatoes and parsley. Cook for a minute or two.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Meanwhile, cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with Kosher salt and pepper.
  9. Place cut side up on a sheet pan. Please near the top of oven and roast for 15-20 minutes.
  10. Remove and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.
  11. Make a slit lengthwise down the eggplant. Spoon in lamb filling and top with feta cheese.
  12. Cook for another 10 minutes. Enjoy!

 

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Posted in Food/Recipes | 1 Comment

In Season: What we’re doing with Virtus Radicchio

Earlier this season, we talked about escarole and endive, delicious and versatile bitter greens. Welcome to the world of Virtus Radicchio. This bitter green can be used in a very similar manner to escarole and endive, so feel free to mix and match as you work with Spring and Fall greens.

We really enjoy adding a bit of sweetness to the bitter greens. Fruit helps cut that initial bite and works really well with radicchio. In this case, we’re utilizing our grill for both greens and fruit, resulting in an amazing fall salad.

Grilled Radicchio & Nectarine Salad
* Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Virtus Radicchio, halved lenghthwise
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 2 nectarines, pit removed, sliced into 6 pieces each

Directions:

  1. Get your grill nice and hot.
  2. Drizzle radicchio and nectarines with olive oil. Sprinkle radicchio with Kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Place radicchio, cut side down, on your grill and let it cook for couple minutes until grill marks form. Remove from grill.
  4. Add nectarines and cook until grill marks form. Remove from grill.
  5. Roughly chop radicchio and divide between plates. Top with grilled nectarines. Finish with a drizzle of good olive oil and serve.
Posted in Food/Recipes | 2 Comments

In Season: What we’re doing with Roasted Tomato Sauce

When we were in Spain last November, we stopped by an Italian (very rare) restaurant near our AirBnB flat. Matt ordered Gnocchi De La Mama, gnocchi in tomato sauce. He was a bit skeptical, because he generally likes gnocchi with cream sauces…think caramelized onion and blue cheese sauce. We both fell in love with this simple dish of potato dumplings with tomato sauce and lots of Parmesan.

On a side note, if you ever get the chance to go to Spain, DO IT. We have visited four times and can’t wait for our next overseas travel. We’d be happy to share travel tips to anyone headed that direction. Jump on the plane. Get your travel on.

Ok, so once home from Spain, we tried to recreate Gnocchi De La Mama. If you want to take the time to make your own gnocchi, absolutely go for it! We’ve made it before and it is wonderful. However, you can get some pretty decent pre-made gnocchi in the pasta isle. If they have the mini gnocchi, grab those. We’ve liked them a little better than the traditional size, but either will work great!

This dish is super simple, comes together really fast (assuming you’ve made the roasted tomato sauce ahead of time), and will put smiles on everyone in your house, making this an excellent weeknight meal.

Gnocchi De La Mama
* serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 package gnocchi
  • Olive oil or butter
  • Roasted Tomato Sauce – Follow this recipe for roasted tomatoes, then put through a food mill. Make ahead and refrigerate, freeze, or can.
  • At least 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan
  • Pinch hot pepper flakes
  • Basil or parsley to finish the pasta

Directions:

  1. Cook gnocchi according to package, drain.
  2. Heat a tablespoon oil or butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add gnocchi and cook until just starting to brown.
  3. Stir in 2 cups roasted tomato sauce and cook, stirring often so sauce doesn’t burn. Cook for a couple minutes. Add hot pepper flakes.
  4. Add Parmesan and stir until just melted. Divide between bowls and top with chopped basil or parsley.
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In Season: What we’re doing with Winter Squash & Kale

I have two favorite soups. Turkey Chard Chili and this. A couple weeks ago, I cooked up a double batch of both. They sat, simmering on the stove, and I couldn’t decide which one to have for dinner because they are both so darn delicious. Matt had the same issue and decided to have a bit of both that evening.

This stew is everything I love about stews. Ingredients are flexible enough to use this or that. It is hearty and uses a ton of kale. The seasonings are interesting. But mainly, it makes me happy. I love this.

I adapted a recipe found in Cooking Light and came up with this version, which I think is a bit easier and more delicious than the original. I prefer 100% lamb, but you can use beef or a mixture of both lamb and beef. I like butternut squash and sweet potato equally here, so I use whatever is available. I would highly suggest doubling this as is freezes incredibly well.

Lamb & Kale Stew
* serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1lb ground lamb or beef
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • 1 1/2 c chopped peeled butternut squash or sweet potato
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, rough chopped
  • small handful chopped okra (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat a stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Swirl 1 Tbsp olive oil in pan and then add lamb. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, stirring to crumble, about 5 minutes. Remove lamb from pan.
  3. Add enough olive oil to drippings to equal about 2 Tbsp, adding more if pan gets dry. Toss in squash/sweet potatoes and onion. Cook about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.
  4. Add tomato paste, flour, coriander, cumin, hot pepper flakes, paprika, and garam masala. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  5. Add stock and bring to a boil. Stir in kale and okra. (Okra adds an amazing silkiness to the stew and also helps thicken.) Once kale has started to wilt, stir in cooked lamb.
  6. Let simmer for about an hour, or until to the thickness you desire.

 

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In Season: What we’re doing with Tomatoes

In 2014 ¬†we had an amazing crop of tomatoes. I mean, incredible. Literally tons of tomatoes. I made everything you can think of and more that summer. Canned tomatoes, passata, roasted tomato sauce, ketchup, salsa, spaghetti sauce, tomato jam, chutney, frozen tomatoes, dried tomatoes…EVERYTHING.

We haven’t had a bumper crop like that since. What I learned from that year was what I really loved, what I needed, and what could be skipped in upcoming, not so great years.

So, in seasons where we just have a few tomatoes, which is what we’ve had so far this season, I preserve tomatoes in two ways. One, simply canned. I love using them in chili, making salsa, and whatever else calls for canned tomatoes.

Second, I roast them. A simple roasted tomato can go a million different directions.

Remove the skin and toss in any and all pasta dishes. I love them tossed with our pesto, a little cream, and mozzarella pearls for an easy and absolutely delicious meal.

Make these amazing crostini with either of our pesto flavors. I like goat cheese, Basil Kale Pesto, and roasted tomatoes. Or Blue Cheese Walnut Pesto with roasted tomatoes. Either way…crazy good.

If I want to preserve them for a later use, I do one of two things. I’ll simply toss them in a freezer bag and throw them in the freezer. Or, I run them through a food mill, resulting in the most scrumptious roasted tomato sauce you’ve ever tasted. Sometimes I just want to drink it…I don’t, but I could. Ladle into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 35 minutes. Super easy.

Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
  • Fresh herbs: basil, thyme, oregano
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Arrange tomatoes on a foil lined sheet pan.
  3. Place a couple basil leaves, 2 thyme sprigs, and 1 oregano sprig on the tray.
  4. Drizzle generously with olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle with salt & pepper
  6. Roast for 55 minutes and then check. Juices should have released from the tomatoes and they should be very tender to your touch and starting to brown on the edges.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Posted in Food/Recipes, In Season: What we're doing with... | 2 Comments

In Season: What we’re doing with Eggplant

It took a while for me to find my love for eggplant. We didn’t eat it growing up and I definitely didn’t venture out on my own during the college years. It was actually when Matt and I started dating that I started eating eggplant. Because Matt loves the stuff.

He’s happy with it any sort of way. Simply seasoned and grilled might be his favorite preparation, but he’s also a fan of fried, roasted, you name it. Me, I’m a bit more specific with my likes and I’ve compiled some of them here for you.

This roasted eggplant pasta recipe is an excellent introduction to eggplant. Roasted eggplant tossed with a simple tomato sauce, pasta, basil (although we make ours with a 10oz container of our pesto in place of basil), and fresh mozzarella. What’s not to love?

I made this eggplant parmesan recipe over the weekend. It was delicious and I will make it again. However, this is not a quick recipe. It took me a good part of Sunday to make the sauce, fry the eggplant, assemble, and bake the dish. But, it was amazing!

We also like to season, grill, and freeze eggplant for use during the winter months. It takes minutes to thaw and works great for grilled veggie paninis, used as a pizza topping, or chopped and tossed with a nice sauce and pasta.

But this. This has become a favorite of mine. We were in San Diego last spring, staying at an AirBnB, working with whatever spices they had in the kitchen…along with a few farmers’ market purchases. Matt tossed together this simple marinade which we used for eggplant, shrimp, and halibut. Wow. Total game changer for grilled eggplant right here.

Cilantro Soy Grilled Eggplant
* serves 4-6 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb eggplant, 1/2 in to 3/4 in slices
  • handful chopped cilantro, plus some for sprinkling on top to serve
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • pinch hot pepper flakes
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a ziploc bag, mixing to make sure all sides of the eggplant are marinating. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to a couple hours, flipping once or twice to mix the marinade.
  2. Heat a grill over medium high heat. Grill eggplant for a couple minutes. Check for grill marks and flip. Grill for a few minutes longer. The eggplant should be very pliable when removed from the grill.
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Posted in Food/Recipes | 4 Comments

In Season: What we’re doing with Cucumbers

It’s late August and we are now swimming in cucumbers. I am absolutely fine with this “problem”. If we had tomato and cucumber salad for every meal during the height of summer, I’d be happy as pie. I do realize, however, that not everyone has the same love. Variety is the spice of life, right?

So, when you’re over tomato cucumber salad and you can’t eat another sliced cucumber dipped in ranch dressing, try this unique cucumber recipe.

The first time Matt and I had Sunomono was at Sushi Masa in Sioux Falls. The server suggested the dish. They accent the salad with shrimp, crab, and if you’re lucky, a surf clam. Matt and I generally order two surf clams in ours. So damn delicious.

At home, we either add shrimp or krab, but it’s equally delicious without. Spiralized carrot is also a nice addition. This recipe is super simple and can be ramped up or down depending on how many people…or cucumbers you have.

Summer Cucumber Sunomono
* serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium to large slicing cucumber peeled or an English cucumber unpeeled
  • Kosher salt
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Soy sauce or Tamari
  • Cooked shrimp or krab, optional
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Slice the cucumber as thinly as you can. The thinner the better. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 5 minutes or so. Squeeze out all the liquid. Place cucumbers in a serving bowl.
  2. Mix 2 parts rice wine vinegar to 1 part sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add a splash of soy sauce or Tamari. Taste the mixture and add more vinegar or soy/Tamari to taste.
  3. Stir into cucumbers. Add shrimp or krab, if using. Let sit for 5 minutes, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.
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