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Eggplant

Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant

As discussed in my last post, I was recently asked if I’d like to review two of Urban Outfitters’ cookbooks,?Power Snacks and the one from which today’s recipes came,?The Clean-Eating Kitchen.

Stuffed Eggplant

Even more so than?Power Snacks, this particular cookbook takes an easy-to-make, weekday-kind-of-meals approach. Most of its recipes, like the Squash, Kale and Farro Stew or the Roasted Beet and Barley Salad or this recipe, the Stuffed Eggplant, are conscious of both time and ingredient list length.

Use fresh, quality ingredients, and you don’t need a recipe that spans across three pages. This cookbook gets that.

Stuffed Eggplant

From breakfast (think Raw Buckwheat & Almond Porridge) all the way to dessert (Mango Fruity Crush Ice Pops),?The Clean-Eating Kitchen offers pages of healthy eats to fill all meals of the day.

The recipes are considerably light and wholesome, and rather fitting for the summer season we’ve just begun. (Happy first day of summer!)

I decided to kick things off with a lunch/dinner option that would utilize fresh mint from my garden and two creamy roasted eggplants.

While stuffed eggplant can sound a tad daunting, this one was super quick to make. And tasty, too.

Stuffed Eggplant

Topped with toasted almonds for some crunch and a salty touch of feta, the eggplant here gets filled with a hearty quinoa and classic onion-garlic saute. Mint freshens it all up and adds a punch of flavor that completes the entire dish.

Feel free to add a spoonful of chickpeas to this Mediterranean-inspired meal for a little extra protein, and definitely consider serving it alongside a side salad. While this will get you’re oven going, I consider the light and freshness of this meal perfect for a hot summer’s day and a great compliment to some sweet, sliced tomatoes picked straight from the garden or snagged at your local farmer’s market.

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Warm Caprese Grain Salad

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

After recently moving to a new neighborhood, my two housemates and I threw a little housewarming BBQ and celebration. Yay!

Tasked with the challenge of making something for a crowd that would be vegetarian, nutritious AND able to rival burgers circulating aromatics from the grill, I settled upon this rendition of caprese.

I taste-tested in advance and gave it two thumbs up. But it was still much to my surprise that the healthy caprese rice ran out before the burgers. Who would’ve guessed?

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

As with a traditional caprese salad, the flavors here are simple but fresh. Good extra virgin olive oil, zesty basil and sweet caramelization from the oven that’s bestowed upon a variety of veggies all make this dish shine. It’s delicate, yet addicting. And makes you feel good even after going in for seconds.

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

I opted to keep this dish vegan, but feel free to add mozzarella or goat cheese. You could also play with the grain combination. Here, I chose to add in some barley with the rice, which lent?a nice and subtle crunchy element.

I also love the texture and flavor contrast created when using both roasted and raw tomatoes. If able, go with two different varieties for each, like sungolds and classic grape tomatoes, for a nice color scheme and added complexity of flavor.

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

I’m looking forward to more veggie and herb-centric meals in the months to come. Also a shout-out to Mastro Co. for the awesome ceramic bowl that held this veggie-filled goodness!
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Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

I really do love bagels. Often, I have my mom’s voice ringing in the back of my head saying, “Oatmeal is a better choice”. But then I just push it away, because bagels are worth it. Especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Besides, when you use bagels as a canvas for garden veggies, they can be considered an excellent choice, right? Maybe even better than oatmeal.  Don’t worry mom, that’s a whole wheat everything bagel plated below.

And it’s loaded with creamy baba ganoush.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

Recently, I’ve been using bagels as a platform for vine ripened tomatoes, spilling out over a nice smear of cream cheese and layered with sweet onions. It’s what I consider a perfect breakfast. Throw a farm fried egg on the side, and breakfast feels flawless. Cue Beyonce: I woke up to this.

Breakfast Bagels with Baba Ganoush

The days of huge tomato harvests are beginning to slow down though, just as eggplants are quickly populating the nearby plants. Those purple guys were the inspiration for ditching the cream cheese in favor of a new kind of spread.

Buttery baba ganoush on a chewy toasted bagel – it’s a match made in heaven, no cream cheese needed. Feel free to keep it vegan, or throw some salty feta on top. I recommend some chopped tomatoes, too, if you have them.

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Eggplant Caprese Sandwich

Eggplant Caprese Sandwich

I recently returned from a mini road trip exploring the beautiful west coast –> Colorado –> Arizona –> Nevada. The adventure was refreshing, filled with mountainous hikes, breathtaking views, wildflowers, and good times with good company. There’s not much more you can ask for from a trip, right?

The journey was also filled with lots of peanut butter & banana sandwiches, whether from the backseat of the car, the peak of a mountain, or on a flat rock sitting at the base while soaking in that crisp, high altitude air. I consumed my weight in bananas and peanut butter, and while I was sad to leave vacation behind, I welcomed with open arms the garden full of tomatoes that welcomed me back home. (Ironically, just two days after landing I found myself eating another PB&B while picnicking at a music festival…I will now be swearing them off for awhile. Tomato sammies from here on out, please.)

With those garden reds, I’ve been whipping up all the summer classics, like tomato and basil salads, fresh salsas, garden omelettes, and caprese sandwiches like the one above. Can you believe that photo was snapped with none other than an iPhone? Just goes to show, tomatoes are so beautiful on their own that they don’t need any fancy equipment or styling to shine. Or to make your stomach rumble. Fresh ingredients make for easy summer culinary dreams, so fortunately the recipe to craft this sandwich is equally as simple as the photo portraying it.

I’ll leave it at that with the recipe to follow, along with a few film and digital snapshots from the trip. Cheers!

Eggplant Caprese Sandwich

Yield: Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 1 med.-lg. eggplant, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 2 lg. ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh basil, handful
  • Fresh oregano, handful (optional, but recommended)
  • 5 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh Parmesan, to grate on top
  • 6 slices of crusty whole grain bread, toasted
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, to season
  • Chili oil, to drizzle (Sample recipe)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Layer eggplant slices on top, and toss with olive oil to lightly coat. Scatter garlic pieces across the eggplant, pressing them into the flesh. Sprinkle salt around the pan to season.
  2. Bake 12 minutes, then flip. When you return the eggplant to the oven, line another baking sheet, and place tomatoes on top. Put in the oven with the eggplant, and cook another 5-8 minutes, or until eggplant are tender. Remove both sheets from the oven.
  3. Drizzle toasted bread with chili oil. While still hot, layer eggplant and tomato on top of 3 of the slices, and add mozzarella to melt. Scatter fresh basil and oregano, and freshly grated parmesan. Place remaining 3 pieces of bread on top to complete the sandwich. Enjoy.
https://foodfitnessfreshair.com/2015/07/26/eggplant-caprese-sandwich/

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Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

Spring has arrived in Philadelphia. Finally.

As I sit writing this post, the window to my left sits open, allowing a cool, but not too cool, breeze to flow in.

I could end my post here.

Spring is here, and that’s really all that needs to be said, right?

Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

With these first few 70-degree days, I’m already feeling revived. My impulses to cook are breaking out of their winter hibernation and are quickly kicking back in. And my excitement for my new community garden plot is building by the minute.

Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

Hopefully, this garden will yield lots of fresh veggies this summer, which will then propel lots of seasonal, healthy recipes for you on this blog. A garden is my ideal summer project. If such a project could make any money, and didn’t attempt to kill me while doing so, I’d already have quit my day job by now. I could spend every waking second outdoors and not get bored.

In fact, I did that for a few summers. My body wasn’t entirely quite as thrilled with me as my mind. But both still long for those days.

Perhaps one day, my camera will reunite me with farm life. Dream.

Italian Roasted Eggplant TabboulehThis easy tabbouleh (pilaf? casserole? whatever you want to call it?) is also kind of dreamy. Filled with creamy roasted eggplant and topped with not-to-be-taken-for-granted pine nuts, this is my attempt to swap pasta for whole grains and create a dish that’s equally as delicious. It worked.

Add some cheese on top, and you’ll create an even richer lunch and/or dinner for yourself. And once summer tomatoes arrive, definitely throw a few slices of those on top, too.

Italian Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

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