Archive | October, 2011

Eggplant Stack

11 Oct

This is just too fun to pass up.  A friend from work brought in some beautiful garden tomatoes, and combined with our abundance of eggplant, and a whole lot of cast-iron heat, a flavor-filled spesh was born.  I made my Broccoli Pesto to go with this dish, but use your favorite pesto to make your own taste buds sing.  Or maybe a simple balsamic reduction, or even a late-season blackberry and port vinaigrette.  So many options!

Despite the tomatoes getting some cheese-love in this dish, the eggplant are really what shine.  They are soft on the inside (but not mushy), and the cast iron sear gives them that great seasoned heat flavor.

I do have a story to share about this dish, but it’s going to have to wait… a little more needs to transpire before giving away the farm.  Keep reading and I’ll clue you in, soon!

Eggplant Stack (serves 2)

  • 1 med eggplant, sliced into 3/4 – 1 in. medallions
  • 2-3 similar sized tomatoes, sliced into 3/4 – 1 in. medallions 
  • 1 c cheese blend (I used equal parts parmesan, fontina, and asiago) 
  • 1 sprig rosemary 
  • 2 tsp salt 
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling 
  • s&p 

Prior to cooking, place the slices of eggplant in a large colander, and place the colander over a large bowl.  Liberally sprinkle the eggplant with the 2 tsp salt, and let the eggplant sit for about 20 minutes (I like to call this a “de-brine” as the salt extracts the bitter juices out of the eggplant, as well as softens the flesh).  After the 20 minutes, with paper towels, wipe the excess salt, and pat the eggplant dry. 

Prepare the tomatoes by greasing a baking dish with butter, and placing the tomatoes up in the dish, not overlapping.  Sprinkle the tomatoes with s&p and top each one with a couple finger-pinches of cheese.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top.  

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to high broil, and heat a cast-iron skillet on the stove over high.  While the pan is heating up, pour in 3 tbsp of olive oil and throw in the rosemary sprig.  Remove the rosemary after the pan has become hot – the oil should be glistening and shimmery, and the rosemary should be fragrant.  

Put the tomatoes in the oven, and watch them – broilers can be finicky.  Mine took about 10 minutes to become golden and bubbly.

Sprinkle the eggplant with a bit of pepper, and then standing back, place each eggplant in the pan.  Each side should get a golden sear, about 4-6 minutes.  

Remove eggplant from pan and set aside, and remove tomatoes from oven.  It helps to assemble the veg if they have cooled just a bit, rather than still being still scorching.  Assemble, alternating tomato and eggplant, as high as you would like, starting and ending with a tomato.  Drizzle with a bit of good quality olive oil (optional), and let a big crack of pepper fall over the tower and onto the plate.  Serve with a pesto, or your favorite dressing. 

Enjoy!

Veg au Vin

8 Oct

I’m stuffed.  Rob and I are lying here, watching Notre Dame spank the Air Force, bellies full and grumbling with happy digestion.  The thing is, I don’t know what I just cooked.

“What should I call it?” I asked, my hands on hips showing a slight frustration.

“I don’t know,” Rob was not as perturbed as me, “what is it?”

“Well, I don’t really know.  It’s not a stew, and definitely not a soup.  It’s more of a braise,” my voice trailing a bit.

“Ok, then it’s a braise.”  Problem solved in Rob’s eyes – such a guy.

“Yes, but what do I call it?”

The cyclical nature of our conversation was cut short from the overwhelmingly hoppy smell coming from the oven – Cheddar Apple Beer Bread – the perfect side dish for whatever it was I just made.

It’s not a cold Oregon day today, but cloudy and it definitely has a fall vibe.  A day for relaxing, Rob made it clear that Notre Dame football was in the cards, and being a gal who actually enjoying the talking head commentators, muffed roar of stadiums, and the occasional adrenaline induced touchdown dance, there was no argument.   Sig agreed with our plan as well; his sleepy head currently hanging off the side of his bed is a perfect picture of the day’s tangible vibe.  But Sig didn’t get to enjoy what is putting me on the brink of falling into a food-baby coma right now (if sentences start looking like this: ioasdaf;asdfjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj, pardon me – my head probably hit the keyboard).

So what did I make?  Well, it’s already been determined that, well, we don’t know.  But the closest thing I can compare it to is veggies braised in wine.  Thus, Veg au Vin.  Our CSA basket is still providing beautiful and bountiful veg, and having been out of town for most of last week and a bit of this week, the build up meant we couldn’t shut the crisper door.  It was time to do what the CSA basket forces me to do – be culinarily creative.

It was actually a very easy dish to make, and probably one of the best veggie dishes I’ve ever cooked – not trying to toot my own horn here, just being honest.  This Veg au Vin was a discovered concoction of what has to have come from a higher nutritional power, as it did not taste twigs-and-nuts healthy, but rich, smokey, flavorful, and hearty.  Topped with a fresh radish “gremolata” (a gremolata is typical for many braised dishes), and paired with the Cheddar Apple Beer Bread, we had the perfect meal for a football soaked, lazy-bones celebration of a day.

And now, I must let the sounds of whistles and college band fight songs coax me into a nap (Rob and Sig already have a head start).

Veg au Vin

  • 3 strips of thick bacon, diced
  • 4 carrots, halved and thickly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, thickly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers (I used red and green), chopped into chunks
  • 1 large white onion, chopped into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 med head cauiflower, chopped into chunks
  • 1 med head broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 2 med zuchinni, halved and thickly sliced
  • 1 large chipotle pepper, minced
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¾ c red wine (I used a rich Washington Cabernet)
  • s&p

Brown the bacon in a heavy bottomed pot.  When crispy, remove and set aside on paper towel.  Saute the onion, carrot, celery, bell peppers, and garlic in the bacon drippings.  When just starting to turn soft, add the rest of the veg, and pour in the wine.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot.  Add the herbs, cumin, s&p, mix, and cover for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The last 5 minutes, uncover, stir, taste for seasoning, and turn off the heat.

Serve in large bowl with your favorite bread, and top with Radish Gremolata.

Enjoy!

Radish Gremolata

  • 2 large radishes, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together in small bowl.  Let sit for about 5-10 minutes for flavors to come together.  Top on Veg au Vin.

Enjoy!

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