Archive for ‘Eggplant’

August 27, 2012

The best way I’ve ever eaten Eggplant

I am a bad Italian.  I HATE raw tomatoes and I’m not afraid to admit it anymore! There is something about the texture that freaks me out and to be frank, I am not all too crazy about the taste.  I know, it’s pretty horrible considering that tomatoes are a huge source of vitamins and I deprive myself of that on a regular basis.  Up until a couple of year ago, though, not only did I hate tomatoes but I also hated eggplant.  Beurk.  Non, merci.  I found it to be spongy and unpleasantly bitter.  An Italian who hates tomatoes and eggplant?  Not a good combination. But one day, I tasted eggplant in all of its glory — eggplant parmigiana.  How can anyone reject FRIED vegetables (screams the American inside of me?) It was outstanding.  Delicious.  Full of oil and happiness (and potential heart attacks.) But it still didn’t have a texture that suited me.

Now, it must be known that most of my hours trolling the internet  are spent on food websites.  And in my browsing, I stumbled upon an interesting technique for making eggplant that supposedly gets the bitterness out! I followed the instructions, and was bestowed with the discovery of the most silky, creamy eggplant that I’ve ever eaten in my life. Now I know how Christopher Columbus must’ve felt when he arrived in America.  Now, I will never eat eggplant any other way.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3-5 Tb. olive oil
  • salt
    (optional: drizzle 3 Tb. honey with thyme leaves and sea salt)

Now what?

  1. Peel and slice the eggplant into thin 1/6 inch rounds.
  2. Place the eggplant slices in an airtight tupperware and pour the milk over it. Cover and refrigerate over night. *This is the vital part of the eggplant amelioration process!* 
  3. In a slightly deep dish, mix the flour with 1 tsp. salt. Heat the olive oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Line a plate with paper towels.
  4. When the oil is hot, dip the eggplant in the flour but be sure to tap off the excess.  Place them in the pan and fry for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden.  Remove from the oil and place on the paper toweled plate. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, always adding oil as needed.

How we ate it?

We enjoyed this creamy eggplant with some creamy goat cheese.  One of the best parts of living in France is the Saturday morning market.  I have a cheese guy.  He has a serious mustache.  My life in France. Anyway, we assembled our sandwiches on English muffins (which could perhaps be a French faux pas considering all of the crusty baguettes running freely!)  On the bread, we spread some eggplant cavier (recipe to come soon), goat cheese, eggplant, goat cheese, eggplant, truffled salt until the result was too divine to be true.  I imagine that the sandwich ideas are endless with this sort of eggplant! How do YOU eat eggplant?

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August 4, 2012

Very Vegetarian Lasagna | Lasagnes végétariennes

My roommate Alexis told me that he wanted to cook for us the other night.  I said, sure, no problem, thinking that it would be nice to come home to a hot meal every once in a while.  When the hour came for dinner, I arrived at our apartment ready to feast on whatever he had in store for me.  I entered the kitchen and saw a pile of frozen spinach sitting on a plate, an oven that was not preheated and an unconcerned Alexis opening a bottle of red wine.  I glanced at the clock and read 9pm.  He told me that he wanted to wait for the spinach to defrost.  I looked around for a few more clues and when I found a box of lasagna noodles perched on the windowsill, I knew that dinner wouldn’t be before midnight (or the next day, if we waited for the spinach to defrost on its own.) But the French eat late, I told myself.  But I had been hungry since 5pm.  He informed me that we would be eating spinach, crème fraiche and sun vegetable lasagna (rough translation.) My appetite now whet, I pounced into action in order to help this roommate-chef of mine so that soon that lasagna could be in our bellies.  While there is a copious amount of crème fraiche and ricotta in this recipe, the addition of a ratatouille sort of vegetable combination makes you feel slightly reasonable.  After it was finally cooked, he took his bottle of red, and me my bottle of white, and we settled on the couch (in front of the television) in true Franco-American style.

Very Vegetarian Lasagna

What you’ll need:

  • 450 gr fresh spinach
  • 1 eggplant, cut in circles
  • 1 zucchini, cut in circles
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • flat parsley
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 pinches oregano
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • 300 gr ricotta
  • 15 cl crème fraiche
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 lasagna noodles (no pre-cooking necessary)
  • 90 gr parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 f.
  2. Wash the spinach twice in cold water and then blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Plunge them immediately in a large bowl of cold water so that they keep their green color.  Drain them and remove as much water as possible with the help of paper towel.
  3. Heat the shallot in a pan with a little olive oil for about 5 minutes until they are fragrant and clear.
  4. Simultaneously beat your eggs, ¾ ricotta and ¾ of the crème fraiche.  Add the shallots, spinach and the parmesan.  Salt, pepper and then put it off to the side.
  5. In the meanwhile, fry eggplant circles until slightly golden in a pan.  Once finished, place on the side on plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.
  6. Place all remaining vegetables in a pan with a little extra olive oil.  Add eggplant, 2 tbsp of parsley (fresh or dried), thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and cover it with a lid.  Let it simmer on low heat for approximately 15 minutes.  Once it is a nice mixture with a ratatouille like texture, add cut up basil and let it cook for 5 more minutes.
  7. Butter or oil a baking dish to the size of your liking (we used 26×20 cm).  Place three lasagna noodles on the bottom, followed by a layer of vegetables.  Add three more lasagna noodles and then spread (thickly) a layer of the spinach mixture.  Repeat this process until you are out of all of your ingredients or until you are out of dish space! Be sure to finish with lasagna noodles.
  8. Finally, combine the remaining ricotta, crème fraiche and some parmesan cheese to get a very cheesy top layer to cover your lasagna mountain.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the lasagna begins to turn golden brown.  Serve immediately with some extra parmesan cheese, as if there just wasn’t enough already…

 

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