Tag: eggplant

5 Ideas for Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals

5 Ideas for Quick and Easy Weeknight Meals

 

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With work, holiday shopping, social obligations and more, it’s not easy to cook every night. Ordering takeout is easy but it’s not cheap. Here’s something I hope will help you out:

 

Weeknight Meal Planning Guide

 

Steak pizzaiola in a bowl
This is a bowl of delicious “meat candy.”

1.) Monday: Steak Pizzaiola (in a slow cooker)

If you haven’t tried this yet, what’s stopping you? Do you need a slow cooker or maybe one of those Instant Pots that are all the rage?

Seriously, this is the best slow cooker recipe out there, developed by a professional chef who always cooks authentic Italian. He calls this “meat candy.” Take 10-minutes to prepare the ingredients before throwing them in the pot and then wait a couple of hours and you’ll see why.

 

2.) Tuesday: Quick, Easy Turkish Eggplant Casserole

Eggplant dish in pan
If you use a cast iron skillet to make the sauce you can layer the eggplant in it and then bake it in the oven (using only one pan).

This looks, smells, and tastes delicious. It’s like eggplant parm without all the work and without all of the fat. A pinch of cinnamon adds depth and takes this to another world.

 

3.) Wednesday: Mexicali Chicken

Close up of Mexicali chicken
Gooey, delicious comfort food.

Just four simple steps for gooey pseudo-Mexican comfort food.

 

4.) Thursday: Marco’s Fuscilli

How hard and long does it take to boil water? That’s how hard and long it takes to make this. Nothing could be simpler or tastier.

 

5.) Friday: Breakfast for Dinner, Gingerbread Pancakes

Pancakes with melted butter
Save the best meal for last.

Yes, you could just scramble up a couple of eggs, but this is much better, especially around the holidays. It’s the bold flavor or gingerbread in one of the lightest pancakes you’ll ever eat.

 

Bonus: 10-Minute Crostini

Crostini with salsa
These are great for holiday get-togethers.

There’s nothing quicker and easier than this appetizer (of course you could make this a meal if you ate enough of them). Three ingredients: guacamole, salsa, and a good baguette. You know what to do.

 

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Quick, Easy, Turkish Eggplant Casserole

Quick, Easy, Turkish Eggplant Casserole

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This dish is similar to eggplant parmesan but without the cheese and without as much work. It is, however, as delicious as that Italian favorite. And a dash of cinnamon sends it to another world.

 

Tomato sauce in a frying pan
The tomato sauce is pretty easy to make. Use a box of chopped tomatoes.

 

This is a take on the classic Turkish dish, Imam Bayildi (which translates to “the imam fainted”). The classic dish is a stuffed eggplant but here you slice the eggplant and then layer it instead.

 

Eggplant slices on a cookie sheet
Brush the eggplant slices with some olive oil and bake them in a hot (425 degree) oven.

 

Other casserole versions of this recipe call for frying the eggplant and if you do that you can get away with using just one pan to create this dish. However, I found that baking the eggplant slices is just as good and probably less calories. It does, however, require you dirty an additional two cookie sheets.

 

Turkish eggplant casserole with salad
Slices of this pair well with a simple arugula salad.

 

The Bitter Myth of Eggplant

Most eggplant recipes tell you to salt the eggplant slices to get the bitter juices out. I’ve found this to be a myth and contrary to popular belief believe salting it may actually add some bitterness.

 

Eggplant with stripes
I know there are plenty of grandmothers out there who recommend salting eggplant but this only makes the eggplant mushy.

 

I’ve found that the best way to avoid making bitter eggplant is by carefully selecting the eggplant. Look for one that is a dark, purplish/black color. It should be firm without any scarring and without any soft spots. Next, I recommend peeling the eggplant, leaving purple vertical stripes.

 

Eggplant dish in pan
If you use a cast iron skillet to make the sauce you can layer the eggplant in it and then bake it in the oven (using only one pan).

 

I based this recipe on one I found on the “Feed Me Phoebe” blog. Phoebe describes herself as a gluten-free chef, obsessed with finding the sweet spot between health and hedonism. And I can attest that this casserole feels very indulgent while you’re eating it.

(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “9 Recipes to Help you Relax and Enjoy the Holidays,”  along with free subscription to the Rootsliving newsletter.)

 

Quick, Easy, Turkish Eggplant Casserole (Imam Bayildi)

November 30, 2018
: 20 min
: 1 hr
: 1 hr 20 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant or two medium eggplants (I don’t salt it as recommended in the original recipe as I believe that makes it more acidic. Instead, be careful to select a very firm eggplant with little or no blemishes. The color should be a deep purple. And then peel it vertically in strips so that it looks like it has thin purple stripes before you slice it into 1/4-inch slices, horizontally.
  • Sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Olive oil. Use a good grade regular frying-style olive oil, not extra-virgin
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • About 27 oz of diced tomatoes from a can or box.
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided in half
Directions
  • Step 1 Take eggplant slices and brush olive oil on both sides. Put them on a cookie sheet that has been drizzled with a little olive oil (to prevent sticking).
  • Step 2 Bake slices in batches on two cookie sheets. When one side has turned brown, flip them over the bake on the other side. This should take about 10-15 minutes per batch.
  • Step 3 Heat a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet.
  • Step 4 Add onion to skillet and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, chili flakes, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and cinnamon. Cook for one minute more, until fragrant. Carefully pour in the tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in half the parsley.
  • Step 5 Remove most of the tomato sauce from the pan, leaving only a thin layer (about 1/4 cup) spread evenly over the bottom. Add one layer of the eggplant in the pan over the sauce and then top with more sauce. Continue to add layers of eggplant and sauce, as if you were building a lasagna.
  • Step 6 Cover with foil and cook in the oven for about 45 minutes until eggplant is soft and sauce is reduced. Garnish with remaining parsley and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it. You can serve it warm or at room temperature.
Chickplantasagna is Born

Chickplantasagna is Born

(Above: Layered like lasagna, with eggplant, chicken, and zucchini, chick-plant-asagna was born out of necessity.)

We were hungry.

I had eggplant, zucchini, some leftover cheddar cheese and a new block of Parmigiano-Reggiano in the refrigerator. All day long I thought of those ingredients and asked myself what I could make for dinner. Around 4 p.m., the answer came to me.

 

I just needed chicken cutlets so I stopped at the supermarket on my way home and found some chicken tenders that looked better than the other cuts of chicken there. I brought them home and flattened them between two pieces of aluminum foil (I had nothing else). And that’s where our story (recipe) begins.

 

Zucchini on a cutting board with eggplant slices
You start by slicing the vegetables and baking them. Notice how the eggplant slices (top left) have only a little skin left on them.

 

I don’t believe that salting the eggplant and letting it drain helps get rid of the bitterness so I never do that. Instead, I make sure to buy a really good eggplant: one that is dark in color, one that has a smooth skin without blemishes, and one that is firm to the touch. And I peel the skin, leaving vertical stripes, so that when you slice the eggplant, each slice only has a little skin on it. I believe this helps to keep the bitterness to a minimum.

 

Slices of eggplant on a cookie sheet
Brush the vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt before baking.

 

After you bake the vegetables, fry the chicken, and saute a tomato and wine sauce, you assemble the dish ending with a layer of cheese and fresh salsa.

 

A close-up of salsa, cheese, vegetables

 

The dish was delicious but it still needed a name. I posted a photo of it on Facebook and asked for suggestions. My friend Katie M. suggested Chickplantasagna. It was the perfect name for a perfect dish.

Chickplantasagna

August 10, 2016
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • Chicken tenders (About 9 or 10, flattened by pounding them with a rolling pin between two pieces of wax paper, parchment paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.) Or, if available, use thinly sliced chicken cutlets.
  • Eggplant (1 dark, purple — firm, but not bruised — beauty).
  • Zuchinni (1)
  • Red pepper (1)
  • Cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup shredded)
  • Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup, grated)
  • Fresh salsa (about 1 cup)
  • Tomato Paste, imported and from a tube (about 3 or 4 good squirts)
  • Red wine (about 1/3 cup), and a little water too.
  • Garlic (1 clove, torn open with your fingers)
  • Olive oil, regular, not extra-virgin (about 1/2 cup)
  • Lemon pepper
Directions
  • Step 1 Take the skin off the eggplant by peeling off strips of it using a vegetable peeler. The eggplant will look like it has stripes as some of the skin remains.
  • Step 2 Cut thin (about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick) slices of the eggplant. Brush olive oil on one side of each slice. Brush olive oil on a cookie sheet and put eggplant, dry side down. Cook in a 450 degree oven, turning over once, until both sides are brown.
  • Step 3 Cut thin slices of zuchhini (about 1/4-inch to 1/2 inch thick). Put oil on both sides. Cut long strips of red pepper (about 1/2 inch thick) and put oil on both sides. Cook zuchhini and red pepper on a baking sheet in a 450 degree oven until done.
  • Step 4 Fry chicken cutlets in a little olive oil and the clove of garlic. Sprinkle with lemon pepper.
  • Step 5 When chicken is done, heat frying pan again. Add the tomato paste and the wine and water and stir. Add salt and pepper. Let the wine and water evaporate a little bit. Stir scraping the bottom of the pan. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter and stir some more. Turn off heat.
  • Step 6 Assemble the dish by putting a little olive oil on the bottom of a ceramic baking dish, along with a few tablespoons of the fresh salsa. Add half of the chicken cutlets. Pour over half of the tomato paste sauce. Add half of the cheeses. Top with half of the zuchhini, red peppers, and eggplant slices. And then repeat this with the remaining ingredients, ending with the rest of the cheese and some fresh salsa.
  • Step 7 Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese melts.
Caponata, aka: Sweet and Sour Eggplant

Caponata, aka: Sweet and Sour Eggplant

(Above: Caponata on slices of Italian bread makes crostini.)

This recipe is one of the best I found in a very long time. It is a delicious blend of sweet and sour flavors with a mingling of soft and crunchy textures that melts in your mouth creating a desire for more and more. It is addictive.

The recipe, first printed in the 2005 edition of Gourmet Magazine, got the highest score on Epicurious.com: four forks, and the 18 people who reviewed it said they would make it again.

So what is caponata and what can you do with it? It’s a blend of bite-sized eggplant, tomatoes, celery, green olives, and red bell peppers that have been enhanced with some garlic, onion, parsley, basil, sugar and red wine vinegar.

The original recipe called for salting and draining the eggplant presumably to make it less bitter. I don’t believe in this procedure and find that picking a fresh eggplant that is dark purple and firm and with few, if any scars, works better. I also suggest peeling off the skin to create long white and purple stripes.

It is delicious, by itself as a side dish, or when mixed with pasta. It also makes the best crostini when spread generously over toasted ciabatta slices. It’s very versatile and can be used imaginatively in a thousand different ways. I just put the last of it on some lavash bread, along with some goat cheese and arugula to create a roll-up sandwich. It was better than an eggplant (or chicken, or veal) parm sandwich on a braided roll.

This recipe takes a little work but it’s worth it. It makes a big batch that you can enjoy for several days or even a week. Enjoy!!

CAPONATA, AKA: SWEET AND SOUR EGGPLANT

September 20, 2015
: 20 min
: 1 hr 30 min
: Medium

By:

Ingredients
  • 2 lb eggplant (preferably small but not Asian)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (preferably Sicilian)
  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 11 garlic cloves (from 2 heads), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (preferably from a tube)
  • 1 (28-oz) can whole Italian tomatoes, finely chopped and juice reserved
  • 5 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup large green Sicilian olives (6 oz), pitted and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup drained bottled capers, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Directions
  • Step 1 Peel the eggplant to create long purple and white stripes. Then cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Step 2 Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté three fourths of garlic, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute.
  • Step 3 Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  • Step 4 Add tomatoes with their juice, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Step 5 Bring 2-3 cups of salted water to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart saucepan, then cook celery until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
  • Step 6 Heat 1/4 inch oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until it’s hot but not smoking and then fry the eggplant in 4 batches, stirring and turning constantly with a slotted spoon, until browned and tender, 3 to 5 minutes per batch. (Heat oil between batches.) Transfer to paper towels.
  • Step 7 Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil from skillet, then reduce heat to moderate and cook onion, bell pepper, and remaining garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 8 Add tomato sauce, eggplant, celery, olives, capers, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and remaining teaspoon sea salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
  • Step 9 Cool to room temperature, uncovered, then chill, covered, at least 6-8 hours. Just before serving, stir in parsley and basil. Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

Moussaka

Moussaka

(Above: Maggie holds a plate of Moussaka and Greek salad.)

This is an untraditional moussaka recipe from Julia Child. I changed it slightly. It’s a bit time consuming (about 2-3 hours) to make but worth the effort. And unlike eggplant parmesan, you don’t have the tedious chore of dipping the eggplant in egg and breadcrumbs.

We served this at our Big Fat Greek Mother’s Day Party.”

Moussaka

May 11, 2011
: 10-12
: A Little Difficult (Takes Some Work)

By:

Ingredients
  • Eggplant (2. Make sure they’re firm, shiny and a dark purple. This is key, as I don’t believe in salting eggplant and draining it to get out the bitterness. If you buy a perfectly ripe eggplant without bruises, it won’t be bitter.)
  • Olive oil and Salt (Enough to brush each eggplant slice.)
  • Dried herbs (I used a very small amount of oregano, thyme, and mint.)
  • For the lamb mixture:
  • Ground lamb (1 1/2 pounds)
  • Fresh parsley (1/2 cup, pressed down)
  • Onions (2 medium, to make about 1 1/2 cups, minced)
  • Garlic (2 cloves, minced)
  • Canned Italian plum tomatoes (2 cups, strained and drained)
  • Red wine (3/4 cup)
  • Allspice (1/8 tsp.)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • Egg (1 large, beaten)
  • For the topping:
  • Butter (3 tbsp.)
  • Flour (1/4 cup)
  • Hot milk (2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Mozzarella cheese (1 cup, grated)
  • Nutmeg (1 small pinch)
  • Swiss cheese (1/2 cup, grated, to top the topping)
Directions
  • Step 1 Wash and peel the eggplant vertically, leaving vertical, purple stripes.
  • Step 2 Cut thin (About 1/4 of an inch) round disks of the eggplant.
  • Step 3 Brush on olive oil and salt on both sides and lightly sprinkle with the dried herbs. Bake in a 400-degree oven on a cookie sheet. Brown on one side and then turn over. You can cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil during baking. This should take about 15 minutes for each tray of eggplant. Set aside.
  • Step 4 Chop the parsley in a food processor, remove and reserve. Add the onions and chop with on/off pulses. Remove and saute in a frying pan with 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Add the minced garlic.
  • Step 5 When onions are tender, add the ground lamb. Brown very lightly.
  • Step 6 Fold in tomatoes, wine, parsley and allspice, salt, pepper. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring frequently for about a half hour or until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon. Taste periodically and adjust seasoning.
  • Step 7 Remove from heat and stir in the beaten egg.
  • Step 8 Lightly oil a baking dish (one the size of a good lasagna will do) and line it with a layer of eggplant.
  • Step 9 Spoon half the lamb mixture over it and then add another layer of eggplant. Add the rest of the lamb mixture and end with another layer of eggplant.
  • Step 10 To make the topping, do the following: Cook the butter and flour together for about 2 minutes without coloring, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  • Step 11 Remove from heat and pour in all but 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Whisk vigorously to blend thoroughly.
  • Step 12 Put it back on moderately high heat and whisk slowly until it comes to a simmer. Add in the rest of the milk in drips and drabs. Be careful to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon.
  • Step 13 Whisk in salt and pepper to taste.
  • Step 14 Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella cheese.
  • Step 15 Spoon the hot sauce over the top of the eggplant. Shake the baking dish to allow it to sink down.
  • Step 16 Sprinkle the swiss cheese evenly on top. Bake for 45 minutes in a 350-degree oven until the top is a light brown and bubbling.
  • Step 17 Serve warm or tepid, but not too hot. It’s good cold, too.

 

Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

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I got this recipe more than two decades ago and it stands up to the test of time. It’s from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine, the January 1996 edition. I used to have a subscription to that wonderful publication and saved all of the issues. I still make these stacks a few times a year for family and friends who request them. Trish, particularly, is fond of them.

 

Sliced zucchini on a cookie sheet
Brush the vegetables with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before baking.

 

They are easy to make. You roast the vegetables on cookie sheets with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then you assemble the stacks, skewered with rosemary sprigs. Bake in the oven at 450 degrees.

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Roasted Vegetable Napoleons

June 9, 2009
: 6
: Easy

There's a little bit of work to this: slicing and baking. But it's still pretty simple to make.

By:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 1/4 pounds zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 4 large plum tomatoes(about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium red onions cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound medium red potatoes, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 3/4 cup ricotta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella, cut into six 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
Directions
  • Step 1 Brush cookie sheets with olive oil and place slices of vegetables on them. Brush the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven until tender and lightly browned.
  • Step 2 Stir ricotta, salt, pepper, and thyme in a bowl.
  • Step 3 Assemble the stacks on an oiled cookie sheet as follows: Eggplant slice, ricotta mixture, two potato slices, two zucchini slices, one slice of onion, a slice of mozzarella, two tomato slices, two more zucchini slices, and another onion slice. Top this with more ricotta mixture and then cover it all with an eggplant slice. Make five more of these.
  • Step 4 Put a hole through the stack using a metal or wooden skewer. Then stick a rosemary sprig through that hole. Rosemary sprig should have leaves on the top remaining inch which will stick out of each stack.
  • Step 5 Bake the stacks for about 5 minutes until cheese melts and vegetables are warmed throughout. Serve with a side dish of orzo or rice.