Showing posts with label eggplant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eggplant. Show all posts

15 August 2012

Eggplant Persillade with Aged Goat Cheese with Fenugreek

Our nights are cooler now, and the quilts are out again. But our days are warm and sun-drenched and we've been lucky enough to have sporadic rainfall this summer. It really has been a lovely summer up here on what many people are now calling the North Coast, that is, the raggedy line of shore that marks the southern side of Lake Superior and the northern side of Lake Michigan. July was hot, but August has been heavenly.

I bought Asian eggplant at the market this week, and looked for a simple recipe that would bring out its gentle flavor, which is as comforting to me as Grandma Annie's mashed potatoes.

I also wanted to showcase something from my herb garden. I found this Julia Child recipe for eggplant persillade, and a modified version of it now joins the blogosphere cavalcade of JC recipes marking her 100th birthday. (That's not entirely correct; it was already in the blogosphere.)

Persillade is a parsley-based sauce or mixture made with oil and seasonings. Here's how to pronounce it.

Most versions of the recipe suggest serving it over spaghetti squash but when served as a side dish, it's more in keeping with my culinary goal this week of eating vegetables in rather simple form.

I did not peel my organically-grown eggplant and I sliced rather than diced it. So I'm not sure,  if strictly speaking, it's Julia's recipe. (I'm really struggling with the whole purist thing.)

Sprinkling it with Parmesan cheese is optional. I had none (must get to the store!) so I tried it with LaClare Farm's Evalon, an aged goat cheese made here in Wisconsin. We sampled had it last summer and loved it. The version I bought is laced with fenugreek, a plant that is herb, spice and vegetable.

Eggplant from the farm market, parsley from my garden, cheese from my state. What better way to salute Julia!

I have one eggplant growing in my garden. If it survives the hungry critters who roam my yard at all hours of the day, looking for more ways to annoy me, I'll feature a dish with that later in the season.

07 August 2012

Zucchini Stuffed with Eggplant and Peppers

Between mid-2010 and mid-2011, my husband endured two surgeries for two life-threatening conditions while I underwent physical therapy and medication for a painful and debilitating injury.

We lived our life as normally as we could, but we tired easily. During this time, we moved my mother to an assisted living facility. There was emotional as well as physical pain to deal with. Frankly, comfort food helped us cope.

We prepared old favorites like roast beef, meat loaf, roasted chicken, burgers and sloppy joes. Good food, certainly, but not always the best for you on a daily basis.

We have come through the fire, and we look at life much differently now. We are happy with less. Nothing rattles us too much, and we both have more patience.

And, one hopes, more wisdom.

We still enjoy comfort food, but we are trying to eat healthier, fresher foods and fortunately, that's easy to do in summer, especially this one. We had a warm March, giving local growers a head start, followed by a typical April and slightly warmer May. It's been warm now since early June, and we've managed to escape the most of the drought that's hurting crops to the south.

Zucchini abounds, as it usually does, and peppers seem to be flourishing this year. Tomatoes are holding their own. Eggplant, maybe not so much.

I had the makings for ratatouille. Only I don't make it. I made Zucchini Stuffed with Eggplant and Peppers instead.
Here's what you need:

  • 1 small red pepper, roasted
  • 3 average-size zucchini, hollowed out with a melon baller
  • sea salt and pepper
  • butter
  • herbes de Provence 
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup eggplant, cubed
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, cubed
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2/3 cup grated cheese to melt on top 

Preheat oven to 350.

Trim red pepper. Cut into one-inch strips and drizzle with oil, roasting for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Set aside when finished; allow to cool.

While pepper is roasting, chop onion, eggplant and green pepper and into small cubes. Sauté lightly. I added small chunks of seasoned chicken sausage; this is optional. Cover and set aside.

Pour olive oil into skillet and add minced garlic, cooking under moderate heat until garlic begins to turn gold. Add the other vegetables, stirring frequently. Cut the red pepper into small squares and add it to the skillet mix. I did not skin mine; I think this is a matter of preference.

Meanwhile, using a knife and a melon baller or grapefruit spoon, hollow out 2-3 zucchini so they look like little canoes (as my husband observed as he watched). Mine were rather average in size, but you could do this with one Monster Zucchini. Season the hollowed-out part of the "canoes" with a dab of butter, salt, pepper and a dash of herbes de Provence.

Partially cook the zucchini, covered, in a microwave. I cooked them for a total of about 5 minutes, testing frequently. The zucchini must remain firm throughout.

Once the zucchini is semi-cooked and the filling is lightly sauteed, allow both to cool slightly to make handling easier. Stuff the filling into the hollowed out zucchini, placing in a shallow baking dish.

(I had some of the mixture left over, and that's what I ate while my zucchini baked.)

Cover with foil and bake for 30-50 minutes, testing frequently. Do not allow the zucchini to get mushy.

Sprinkle with grated cheese before removing from the oven, and give the cheese a chance to melt before removing from the oven.

Total comfort food! And pretty darned healthy, too. The zucchini was bland enough to make you feel good and seasoned enough to be interested.