Tag Archives: Eggplant

Meatless Monday: Eggplant Stacks

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Wasting away in the crisper for about  a week has been an eggplant. It was a throw-away purchase from my last CNY Regional Market trip. One of the farms had a table of these for a buck apiece, so it was an easy pickup. But, a long week led to it dormancy in the bowels of my refrigerator.

Determined to make something from it, I rooted around my fridge today looking for some assistance. There was marinara and fresh mozzarella, which made things easy enough. A tub of Garlicky Goodness (more on that in a sec) joined the fray, as did the last two tomatoes on the counter.

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I didn’t want to fry, but I also didn’t want to make a casserole. I was winging it here, so I decided to layer everything into a stack. But, I knew that the layered eggplant would take longer to cook, so I ran the slices through the oven to give them a headstart.

The end result? Well… Continue reading Meatless Monday: Eggplant Stacks

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Meatless Monday: Eggplant Spirals with Greek Yogurt

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It wasn’t until well into dinner tonight before I asked The Wife what she thought about the meal.

“It’s okay.”

Knowing that cucumbers and raw tomatoes really aren’t her thing, I asked her what she thought about the eggplant.

“It’s okay.” Continue reading Meatless Monday: Eggplant Spirals with Greek Yogurt

Meatless Monday: Eggplant with Roasted Tomato Sauce

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Eggplants are fickle little things. It’s a vegetable that does not taste good raw and it’s absolutely useless standing alone. It needs to be stewed, smothered in sauce or served with something to dip it in. The eggplant is nutrient rich, loaded with potassium and folates. And there is nothing finer than a good, slow-cooked eggplant parmagiana.

As a kid, my parents would pickle and jar eggplant to use in salads or other dishes. My favorite thing to do with them was to take a large spoonful of pickled eggplant and put it between two slices of Italian bread. Not the sexiest sandwich in the world, but full of garlicky, vinegary goodness. But I digress. Continue reading Meatless Monday: Eggplant with Roasted Tomato Sauce

Meatless Monday: Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella

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My mother worked as a teacher’s aide at my elementary school for much of my and my sister’s childhood. She would get out around 2 or 2:30 p.m., come home and start cooking dinner. Every night, we would sit down at 5:30 p.m. to have whatever came off the stove or out of the oven. This means that she had anywhere between 2 and 2 1/2 hours to prepare dinner each night.

I’m not sure any employed person has this kind of time anymore to work on the evening meal and expect to eat before 8 p.m. This isn’t a prelude to a rant about this dissolution of the American family because both parents work, or because we don’t all sit down to dinner anymore. It’s more a feeling of bewilderment that someone had that kind of time during the day. (The tradeoff, of course, was that my mother made next to nothing, though she did get the sweet school district health insurance.)

2013-10-07 at 15-40-41This recipe’s three parts add up to about 1 3/4 hours of cooking time, not including prep. This is exactly the type of dinner my mother would make, but is completely unheard of now. It’s the type of thing you buy frozen or as takeout.

Or that you can make ahead of time.

Continue reading Meatless Monday: Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella

Pickling Without Canning: Eggplant

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Dirty little secret: The Italian word for eggplant is often used as a racial slur. It’s terrible and intolerable, I admit, but on par with most of the shortcomings of my people. In the grand scheme of things, Italy is like Mississippi but with better food, architecture and music. Italians are, basically, the rednecks of Europe. Between the bunga bunga parties, monkey noises and bananas at soccer matches and, well, Mussolini, it’s almost embarrassing to call oneself Italian. But, here we are and here I am.

So, as a kid, I would ask my parents for mulignans because that’s what they were called in my house. Because melanzana is Italian for eggplant, but most of the dialects have turned it into mulignan (pronounced moo-ling-yan). And since eggplants are black and Italians are racist trash, well, get what you get.

Pickled eggplant was one of those delicacies tucked away on basement shelf and rarely, if ever, found in stores. To my knowledge, Cento is the only domestic company that makes a pickled eggplant for retail sale. And good luck finding it at a grocery store.

I opted for Japanese eggplant for this recipe because they are oblong and easier to cut into strips. Any shape or color will work fine here, since eggplant variations are only skin deep.

Again, I used a 1L sealed lockjar here.

2013-08-25 at 12-50-53Pickled Eggplant
By Jared Paventi

  • 2 lbs. eggplant
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp. pickling salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley

Wash your container in hot, sudsy water and rinse thoroughly.

Peel the eggplants and cut into short strips. Add to the container along with the garlic and set aside.

Combine the water and vinegar in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the remaining dry ingredients, stirring to make sure the salt dissolves. Boil 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from heat.

Ladle over the eggplant and let stand until it cools to room temperature. Lock or seal the container (I will tip the container upside down over a sink to make sure it doesn’t leak.) and transfer to a refrigerator. Let it stand for 1 to 2 weeks before opening.

Wednesday dinner: Baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella

Mix it all you want. Leave that damn thing uncovered. It can stand for a week. Something is up with this recipe.

Even though I followed it to the letter, I ran into an issue with there being a ton of liquid in the baking dish when I spooned out portions for The Wife and I. The veggies at the bottom were swimming in the puddled stock at the bottom of my Pyrex dish.

I usually don’t have these problems with Smitten Kitchen recipes. They’re, for the most part, rock solid and easily attainable. I’m chalking this up to somewhere between operator error and a necessary adjustment in the amount of stock used. Continue reading Wednesday dinner: Baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella

Meatless Monday II: Eggplant, mozzarella, and saffron rice bake

Fin.

Generally, I dislike recipes that end with the word “bake.” It’s usually because the words “Hamburger Helper Taco” or “Cottage Cheese Tuna” precede it.

(Tangent: The same people who embrace these dishes probably think that a crockpot is a good place to cook a beef tenderloin, or think that a packet of Good Seasons salad dressing is the key to culinary magic. I recognize that not everyone is able to devote an hour to preparing dinner. And I don’t want to totally demonize the crockpot. They are useful in small doses — I’ll be busting mine out later this week for dinner — but if you use it more than four times a week then something is missing. A complete dinner does not come from the same freezer bag or box on a shelf, nor does it take 8-10 hours to cook. For all the talk about food deserts and the lack of fresh produce in poor communities, what middle-class and affluent people with access to fresh veggies do with processed food is a damn crime.)

Tonight’s extension of Meatless Monday came via Bon Appetit. I’ve run into problems with BA recipes in the past, but generally have success. This was no exception. The recipe was baked, but came out more of a cross between lasagna and eggplant parmesan. I thought I could squeeze into a weeknight dinner if I got home right at 4 p.m. From prep to table it took about 90 minutes. If I did this on a weeknight again, I would probably prep the eggplant in advance or make it on a Sunday, let it set and bake when I was ready to eat. Otherwise, this has a winter weekend dinner written all over it. Continue reading Meatless Monday II: Eggplant, mozzarella, and saffron rice bake

The birthday party

So, Saturday marked The Baby’s first birthday. The present haul was nothing short of ridiculous, prompting the following discussion between The Mother-In-Law and I:

MIL: This is insane. We have to talk about controlling this for Christmas.
ME: That’s fine, but for the record, you bought half of those presents. And do we need to talk about Easter?
MIL: Yeah. You’re right.

The spread was equally as impressive, though I ran into a bit of disappointment. I picked up chicken breasts at Wegmans (I had planned to do pork, but was a little gun shy after the disappointment of the mojo pork from a few weeks ago) and forgot how much they pump up their chicken. Poultry suppliers load chicken breasts full of saline solution. This helps the meat freeze for transport and makes them look bigger and thicker. After 15 minutes on a medium gas grill, the chicken reduced in size by almost half. We went from chicken to sparrow. No one complained…except for me. Continue reading The birthday party