Eggplant, Tomato and Onion Pie

Made this for supper last night and it was so good! Based very loosely on a recipe I found online – it is super satisfying and requires no meat.  I used a really good Tillamook Cheddar cheese, but any good sharp cheddar would do.

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant, unpeeled and diced into 3/4″ pieces
4 big Roma tomatoes, sliced (other tomatoes would be fine, too)
1 onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic,crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to the boil and add eggplant. On medium-high heat, cook eggplant, stirring frequently,until eggplant is very soft and water is mostly evaporated. (Took about 8 minutes for me.)

Heat olive oil and butter in a frying pan. Add onions and cook until soft, 5-6 minutes. Make a well in the middle of the pan, add a little more olive oil and add garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.

Add onions and garlic to eggplant mixture and allow to cool slightly. Add salt, pepper, basil, breadcrumbs and egg to eggplant mixture and stir well.

Lightly oil the bottom of a pie pan, and layer 1/2 of the sliced tomatoes on the bottom. Pour the eggplant mixture over the tomatoes and smooth the top. Layer the rest of the tomatoes on top, and sprinkle cheddar cheese over.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then turn on the broiler and heat another 4 minutes so cheese is well melted and just starting to brown in spots.

Remove from oven, allow to rest a few minutes and serve. So delish!

Panzanella Salad

Ina Garten shared a recipe for the 4th of July that we ended up loving – Panzanella Salad.  It is fresh, easy and hearty enough to be a main dish for lunch.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 loaf of French Bread, cut into 1″ cubes (ends up being 6 cups)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes cut into 1″ cubes

1 cucumber, unpeeled, halved and seeded, sliced 1/2″ thick
1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp capers, drained

Vinaigrette
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar (Ina uses Champagne vinegar but I didn’t have any)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan. Add bread and salt and cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients

In a nice large bowl, mix tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, red onion, basil and capers. Toss with vinaigrette, and then add bread cubes and toss again. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Can serve right away or after a half hour.

Delish.  Thanks for another fabulous recipe, Ina!

Bok Choy, Eggplant and Peppers with Oyster Sauce

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Beautiful Bok Choy Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

We love baby bok choy and chinese eggplant.  When I saw them looking all fresh and delicious at the Asian market, I couldn’t resist.  I grabbed a beautiful red pepper, too and it made for a quick and easy supper.   The recipe is from foodandwine.com with a few tweaks of my own.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. baby bok choy, washed and patted dry
2 small Chinese eggplants* (about 1 ½” x 10″) halved and cut into ½” half circles
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1″ squares
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 big tsp chopped garlic (or two cloves fresh minced)
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 cups basmati or jasmine rice**
3 and 7/8 cup water
1 tsp salt

Rinse rice well and start cooking with water and salt on medium heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil on medium/high heat. You can use peanut oil or canola, but I had Olive oil handy so I just used that. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.

Add bok choy and cook, moving it gently but constantly so the garlic and ginger don’t burn.  Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add eggplants and peppers and continue cooking and tossing for another minute.

Add oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce and cook for another minute or so until everything is warmed through. If the bottom of the pan is starting to brown too much, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and scrape up the bottom.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice.

*You could probably substitute a small regular eggplant for the Chinese eggplants. Don’t think it would be the same without the Bok Choy. If you can only get regular bok choy, wash and pat it dry and then slice it into four quarters.

** Jasmine or another long grain rice would be great, but I always have basmati, so that’s what I used.

The Best Green Beans Thomas Has Ever Eaten.

My brother-in-law Thomas has fallen hard – for the green beans I made for Thanksgiving.  When someone declares that they are the best green beans he has ever eaten, you know something’s gone right.

So Thomas – this recipe is for you!

Ingredients

3 lbs. of fresh green beans, stems removed and broken into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 large onions, sliced into thin wedges
1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic (add more if you really love garlic)
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Butter (I used vegan butter and it was delicious.)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add onions. Saute for at least 8-10 minutes until they are completely softened and starting to brown up. Clear a space in the middle, add a little more oil and let it warm up a bit. Add the garlic and saute it for a minute of so. Blend with the rest of the onions and cook a couple of minutes more.

While the onions are cooking heat a small pan over medium heat and add almonds. Toast and stir them for several minutes until you start to see little brown marks and they smell thoroughly cooked. Pay attention and keep them moving as they can burn easily. Remove from heat to a small bowl.

At the same time, start a large pot of water boiling with a big pinch of salt.

Add green beans and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll want to watch for the beans to start to darken up a bit, and check with a fork to see when they’re just about fork tender. Once they are done, drain them and add them to the onion/garlic mixture. Add in the almonds, butter, salt and pepper and toss gently to combine.

Check seasonings and serve immediately.  Serves a large group.

Cajun-Roasted Cauliflower

cauliflowerFor a recent party, we served Po’Boys and for my vegan friends I made them with Cajun-roasted Cauliflower. It was crazy easy and makes a wonderful sandwich.

4 cups cauliflower florets
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Emeril’s Rustic Rub (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix oil and Rub in a large bowl. If you like things really spicy add 1/2 tsp more of Rub, but generally 1 tsp Rub is plenty.

Add cauliflower and toss well to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake 25 – 30 minutes tossing occasionally. You want the edges of the cauliflower to start browning up. Serve immediately.

Emeril’s Rustic Rub (From Louisiana Real and Rustic Cookbook)

8 Tbsp paprika
3 Tbsp cayenne pepper
6 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp onion powder
2 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme

Blend well and store in an airtight jar. Will keep for a couple of months.

Pan-Roasted Frozen Veggies

Ever commit to a giant container of something and then think, “Nope!”

I bought a huge bag of stir-fry veggies that just felt mushy to me when I stir-fried them. Rather than pitching the bag, I froze my fingers for 10 minutes sorting out the carrots, onions, peppers and mushrooms, then the green beans, and finally the broccoli and snow peas.  (I did toss out the water chestnuts which are kind of awful when frozen, and will cook the broccoli and snow peas tomorrow.)

This recipe is my fallback for veggies – it’s simple and always good.  Just needed to tweak it a bit to allow for the frozen veggies.

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter
1/2 onion, chopped into 1/2″ strips

Frozen veggies, rinsed and well-drained:
1 1/2  cups of frozen carrots
a little chopped frozen red pepper  – 2 Tbsp?
1/2 cup chopped frozen mushrooms
1 1/2 cups frozen green beans

1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
several grinds of black pepper

Melt butter in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Toss in the onion and cook for a few minutes. If you are using all frozen vegetables, next add them all except the green beans. Reduce heat to low, and saute for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to scrape up the bottom.

Add the green beans, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and black pepper and stir gently. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

The frozen veggies which feel very limp when cooked for a short time take on a brightness and sweetness with the longer cook time that’s pretty remarkable.

Note for fresh vegetables:

If you are using fresh vegetables, cook the carrots and green beans for a few minutes in a saucepan with water. Drain before adding to the skillet. If using fresh mushrooms, add them to the pan right after the onions and cook until they have released their moisture and then a little longer until it’s dried up a bit. Continue as directed.

Ina’s Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

broccoliJust back from Niobrara, where we had some amazing meals in our cabin, especially the dinner where Ali grilled steaks!

These were ridiculously good steaks – and since we’re from Nebraska, that’s saying something.  I need to ask Ali to share his method – they were so delicious.

Anyway, nothing goes better with a great steak than Ina’s Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (I’ve included the original link for those who want it, but am including the version I made below.)

Even if you don’t like broccoli, you will love this. My kids are not huge broccoli fans and they gobbled it up!

Ingredients:

4-5 lbs. broccoli, cut into florets
4 big garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Zest of one large lemon (1 1/2 Tbsp?)
Juice of that large lemon (2-3 Tbsp?)
1/3 cup chopped, pan-roasted walnuts
1/3 cup good Parmesan Cheese
4 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, julienned

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut broccoli into 1-2″ florets, leaving a longer piece of stem on each one. You’ll end up with about 8 cups of florets. (Don’t throw away the leftover, big stems!  Instead peel them and munch on them raw or roast them, too.  They have a lovely, delicate flavor.) Lay all out on a large baking sheet, and sprinkle the garlic slices on top. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper.

Roast for 25 – 30 minutes until the broccoli is crisp-tender and bits are just starting to brown. (Test the florets – I ended up needing an extra 5 minutes or so.)

While the broccoli is roasting, heat the walnuts in a sauce pan on medium heat, shaking frequently (think popcorn) until they start to get a nice, toasty smell. Remove from heat and put in a medium-sized bowl.

Once the walnuts have cooled a bit, add a Tbsp or so or Olive Oil, along with the lemon zest and lemon juice, reserving about 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Stir gently.

When Broccoli is finished cooking, remove it from the oven and spread it out on a large platter. Drizzle the walnut mixture over and gently toss the broccoli. Then sprinkle the fresh basil and Parmesan on top, with an extra squeeze of the lemon juice. Delish!