Posts Tagged ‘eggplant’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Eggplant Gender

January 10, 2017

Two Eggplants in Round Bowl, High Angle View

Today’s tip comes from a client of mine who shared a tidbit learned when he studied at the CIA.

( The CIA he is referring to is the Culinary School of America, where he studied to be a chef, not a spy, he quickly pointed out.)

It seems there are both male and female eggplants, and the taste is different among the two genders. Who knew?!

via Plant-based Paradise

via Plant-based Paradise

The female eggplant has a long brownish slit-like indentation at the bottom. The male’s marking is more round. The male eggplant has less seeds and tends to be less bitter, making it a better choice for cooking, especially for dishes that are not heavily sauced.

Thanks for the tip, Bob!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Eggplant With Yogurt + Pomegranate Seeds

October 19, 2016

epicurious

Last week, I was looking for a few great side dishes that were hearty enough, and interesting enough for a vegetarian to eat in lieu of the racks of lamb that I was serving to the carnivores. After searching through famed chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s book “Plenty,” I stumbled upon his recipe for roasted eggplant with a buttermilk yogurt sauce, topped with za’atar and pomegranate seeds. It fit all of my criteria and then some. It was special enough to stand on it’s own. It had seasonal elements, was healthy, and full of flavor. The cool buttermilk yogurt sauce was smooth and creamy against the texture of the roasted eggplant, and the pomegranate added a touch of sweet crunch. The fact that it came together quickly was a bonus. It’s no wonder that Mr. Ottolenghi chose this for the cover recipe of his book!

roasted eggplant

roasted eggplant

Roasted Eggplant With Buttermilk Sauce adapted from “Plenty”:

Split 4 small eggplants vertically. Brush with olive oil until the pieces are fully saturated. The oil eggplant will absorb the oil, so be liberal with it. Sprinkle the halves with thyme leaves and salt and pepper. Roast in a 350-400 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the flesh is soft and they are nicely browned. Allow them to cool slightly.

For the sauce, whisk together 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt with about 8 or 9 tablespoons of buttermilk and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in 1 clove of garlic, minced as finely as possible, or pressed in a garlic press, and a pinch of salt.

To serve, spoon the sauce over the eggplant halves, sprinkle them with za’atar* and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix. It is available at specialty markets, and it is also easy to make at home.

Za’atar:

Combine about 1 tablespoon each of oregano, ground cumin, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. Many people also use sumac, but I didn’t have any and I didn’t miss it!

Photo: top: Epicurious | bottom: indigo jones

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Unrecipe of the Week: Oops Soup

October 17, 2014

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry . Today’s dish really is an unrecipe: in fact, not only did I use the “little of this and a bit of that” method, I didn’t even intend it to be soup!

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It all began in the vegetable market, when I had a taste for something hearty, yet vegetarian. Autumnal flavors were on my mind, and zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and mushrooms sounded like a good start.

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I sautéed an onion and some garlic with the mushrooms, and added some italian herbs. Sounds good, right? Well, it all went astray from there. As I tossed chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes on top of it in the slow cooker , I had some second thoughts. I wondered if 5 hours in the slow cooker might make them soft. I wondered if they might give off too much liquid. I added a can of beans to make the stew heartier, and hopefully thicken up what I realized was going to be a pot of mushy vegetables. I turned on the cooker and went about my business. When I came back a few hours later, I had just that: a pot of bland, starting to get quite mushy vegetables. They had given off quite a bit of liquid, but not enough to make soup. I added some stock and some canned tomatoes to the pot and let it cook it’s little heart out. When it was done, I pureed it into a rich, flavorful soup. It’s sort of a riff on a classic minestrone, and a little drizzle of olive oil and some grated Parmesan cheese provided the perfect finishing touch. All’s well that ends well!

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Winter Vegetable Stew Soup:

Dice one medium onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, and sauté them in olive oil until soft. Add some sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to brown. Add a healthy amount of dried oregano, basil and a bay leaf, and place in the slow cooker. Pile on chunks of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. ( I used 2 zucchini, 1 medium eggplant and 3 large tomatoes.) Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add 1 can of beans, rinsed, ( I used chickpeas ) and set the slow cooker for about 5 hours. Check it a few hours in, give it a stir and realize this is going to be mediocre at best. Add a little vegetable stock, if necessary, and a can of diced San Marzano tomatoes. Let it cook until the timer goes off.

Puree the mixture, and taste to correct seasonings. If it is too thick, add a little more stock.  To serve, place in soup bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a dollop of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy, knowing that good cooks can salvage almost anything!

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Photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Ratatouille

October 22, 2012

My family was hankering for pasta with Bolognese sauce, and the meat and pasta part of the dish just wasn’t doing it for me. However,the idea of a slow cooked flavorful dish held some appeal.  I had an eggplant laying around waiting to be converted into something, and I realized I hadn’t made ratatouille in many years.

Ratatouille is an ultimate “unrecipe” since the ingredients and flavors are flexible, as is the cooking time.

Indigo Jones’ Ratatouille

Sauté diced garlic and onions in olive oil until transparent.

Working in batches, sauté sliced mushrooms, diced red and/ or green peppers, cubed eggplant, and zucchini until browned. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and basil to taste.

Add diced tomatoes and pitted Calamata olives.

Transfer to an ovenproof casserole and bake for about an hour, until the vegetables are cooked through, and the flavors meld together. Sprinkle with Parmesan

cheese and enjoy!

CSA Tuesday

October 17, 2012

After last week’s bitter greens extravaganza, it was nice to see a more balanced assortment of produce from my CSA.

We got 2 butternut squash, an eggplant, a carnival squash, arugula, celery, radishes and collard greens.

There is easily the makings of a salad for the uncreative nights, and perhaps some butternut squash ravioli if the weekend is not too crazy.

I have been taking whatever is leftover at the end of the week and making “CSA Soup.” So far, they have been interesting, filling and very low calorie.

CSA Soup:

Dice a small onion and saute it in a little olive oil. Add chopped up “whatever is left” and add it to the pot. Add enough broth ( chicken or vegetable) to the pot to fully cover the vegetables.  Cover the pot and allow it to simmer until the vegetables soften. Puree the soup until it is smooth. Season according to taste.

I have used roasted butternut squash and kale, and spinach and  tat soi so far. You really can’t go wrong.

I have frozen the soup in individual containers, and taken them out for an easy, nourishing lunch.

Enjoy!

The Clean 15

June 5, 2012

We have written here about the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of produce that has the highest levels of pesticides and contamination. It is recommended that these foods be organic wherever possible.

There is another list called the “Clean 15”, which have the lowest pesticide load, and can be enjoyed in the conventional varieties.

These are:

Onions

Sweet corn

Pineapples

Avocado

Sweet peas

Mangoes

Eggplant

Cantaloupe

Kiwi

Watermelon

Sweet potatoes

Grapefruit

Mushrooms

Asparagus

Other foods, such as broccoli, cabbage and tomatoes have more recently tested cleaner as well, due to less pest threats, and therefore less spraying.

Many of these fruits and vegetables have a protective outer layer that gets peeled or removed before eating. This helps eliminate the toxins, which are largely on the outside of the food.

The current list of the most harmful foods tested positive for at least 47 different chemicals, and as many as 67. Buying organic insures that the fruit and vegetables are not treated with harmful pesticides.

Foods that should be organic:

Celery

Strawberries

Peaches

Apples

Blueberries

Nectarines

Sweet bell peppers

Spinach, kale and collard greens

Cherries

Potatoes

Grapes

Lettuce

This lists were compiled by the Environmental Working Group, which is an organization made up of scientists, researchers and policymakers. The data used was supplied by the United States Department of Agriculture’s tests for pesticide residue on fresh produce.

photos: Glasshouse Images

 


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