Tag Archives: eggplant

Caponata with Israeli Couscous and Spinach and Feta Meatballs in a Yellow Tomato Sauce

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Remember the eggplant I bought a couple days ago? While we’ve been slowly eating leftovers, I’ve been devising my eggplant plan. What did I come up with? Jamie Oliver’s “Incredible Sicilian Aubergine Stew,” also known as caponata. I am also making Spinach and Feta Meatballs to go alongside.

Deviations: 

  • Used kalamata olives
  • Used balsamic vinegar
  • Used 1 red bell pepper
  • Used 2 zucchini and only 1 eggplant

Ingredients:

• olive oil
• An eggplant, cut into
large chunks
• teaspoon dried oregano
• kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 small red onion, peeled and finely
chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley,
leaves picked and stems finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons  capers
• a handful of kalamata olives
• 2–3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 5 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
•  2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted

Method:

In order to make sure that my eggplant and zucchini were browned and toasty, I did several batches. I think I fried four pans full of eggplant and zucchini–and I’m glad I did. The roasted flavor really came through in the final dish. Between each pan full, I dumped it into a plate to rest.

When I was done doing the eggplant and zucchini in batches, I added them all back to the frying pan and added a bunch of dried oregano. I sauteed this for awhile, then I added the onion, red bell pepper, garlic, and parsley stems to the pan.

Five or ten minutes later (I really let this cook down quite a bit), I added olives, capers, and vinegar. Then the chopped tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. I cranked it up for about five minutes, then lowered the heat and put a lid on it.

 While the caponata was simmering away, I began making the meatballs.

Spinach and Feta Meatballs in a  Yellow Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound hamburger
  • oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • spinach, microwaved and squeezed dry
  • feta cheese

I hand mixed these ingredients together and pan fried the meatballs, a few at a time. When all of the meatballs were done, I took them out of the pan and let them rest on a plate. I drained the grease from the frying pan and added a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes. I let the tomatoes cook until they burst, gave them a drink of wine, and let them reduce for a couple minutes.

Then, I put the meatballs back in the pan with the sauce and let them simmer with a lid on for a few more minutes.

While everything was simmering away, I made a cup of Israeli couscous.

When the couscous was done, I poured a good deal of the yellow tomato sauce into it to finish it off.

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Sunday Menu Planning

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Jeff and I have decided to cook around themes each weekend, in order to learn more about different cuisines and to cook and eat foods we might not otherwise try.  So, last weekend, everything I cooked was Mediterranean inspired and this week, I decided to narrow the focus a bit and cook Greek dishes.

All of the recipes on the menu this weekend come from the same website: Closet Cooking. I’ve blogged a little bit about this website and blogger before–and I can’t say enough about how much it inspires me to try something new each time I visit the site.

From this website I’ve chosen:

Spanakorizo

Baked Shrimp and Feta Pasta

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Melitzanes Papoutsakia

I’ll post the process and progress either today or tomorrow.

Oh, one last thing:  As many of you know, I used to be a vegetarian.  Now, I’m not.  I haven’t really posted any sort of explanation or given much of you insight into this change.  I don’t intend to do that here and now, but I do have an idea for you to consider.  I have been reading Anthony Bourdain’s new book Medium Raw and Jeff and I religiously watch No Reservations on Netflix.  I love, love, LOVE Anthony Bourdain.  His opinion of vegetarianism is pretty clear.  He writes, in his book Kitchen Confidential:
“Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans … are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit.”

He later rants:

“To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.

Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It’s healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I’ve worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold.

Oh, I’ll accomodate them, I’ll rummage around for something to feed them, for a ‘vegetarian plate’, if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine.”

He has also said that choosing the path of vegetarianism is a “first world luxury.” This idea struck a chord with me.  I don’t know if I agree with his sentiments, but from a Marxist point of view, is he right? Are “first world” vegetarians classist? Imperialist, even?    Looking down upon their meat eating peers in their own country and abroad?

Most of the world’s population eats what they can afford and whatever is in season.  Period.  They eat what they have access to.  Most of the world cannot afford to be vegetarian.

So, if you can afford to, should you?

Sunday Menu

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Tonight, Jeff and I are making:

Chard and White Bean StewMediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad, and Rice and Chicken Pilaf with Toasted Almonds and Dried Currants.

I also might make Smashed Chickpea Salad, a slight departure from the hummus kick I am on.

I have been so stressed out lately–eating out too much and eating all of the wrong foods.  I cook each weekend, so that we can have healthy food during the week, but when the week’s stress knocks the wind out of me, I call Papa John’s.  Or Kowloon’s.  Or go to sushi.  Or Quiznos. Or Wendy’s. (What an embarrassingly long list!) But this habit, as comforting as it is in the moment, is expensive–and is rather conducive to weight gain.  Fatty-ness. Eating may make a person feel good momentarily, but tight jeans the next day (and not tight in the sexy way) make me regret the takeout from the night before.

I chose these recipes for their Mediterranean flavors–light, simple, wholesome.  All of them will reheat nicely when we take them to work for lunch.  I really look forward to the rice and chicken pilaf–the combination of cinnamon, garlic, dried fruit, and chicken sounds amazing.  When I went grocery shopping for the ingredients, the Market of Choice as out of dried currants, so I bought dried cherries instead.

If I find the energy and inspiration, I’ll take some pictures of tonight’s cooking marathon.

 

There isn’t enough hummus in your life

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Hummus: The Rap

I never liked hummus until I made it myself.  Most brands of store-bought hummus are gritty, chemical-y, sour, or bitter.  But I bought it time and time again, slathered it on freshly toasted pita, hoping that one day, I would find a brand that didn’t taste terrible.

When we moved to Oregon, I noticed something strange.  At every potluck we have ever attended, there were multiple types of hummus brought to the party.  Multiple.  Some store-bought, some homemade.  Oregonians love their hummus.

With the intention of fitting into our new culinary culture and finding something easy, nourishing, and vegetarian to eat for dinner this summer, my husband and I ended up making and eating hummus homemade nearly every night of the week.

It became an obsession:  I began googling hummus recipes, always searching for the perfect recipe.  It was the ideal summer food: no cooking required, cool, creamy, easy.

I was so very diligent in my search. Some would say monomaniacal.  I never found the perfect recipe, but my husband created his own and it was our go-to recipe when we were too afraid to try the weird ones I had been unearthing.

His recipe included: 2 cans of beans (garbanzo, cannellini, red kidney, etc.), a rounded tsp. of sunflower seed butter, 1-2 cloves of garlic (crushed), salt and pepper to taste, the juice of one small lemon, and enough olive oil to lubricate the blending process.

We made so much hummus this summer that we broke our brand new blender.  We bought it in May and it was toast by August.

Here is a list of the strangest and most delicious recipes we came across:

red lentil hummus

 

cilantro lime hummus

 

yellow curry and butternut squash hummus

 

white bean and roasted eggplant hummus

 

beet hummus