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roasted vegetable stacks with goat cheese

roasted veggie stacks with goat cheeseI am in veggie heaven with these roasted vegetable stacks and in one recipe I get the daily recommended servings of vegetables; my kind of dish.  Although the end of Summer means goodbye to warmer days (sigh), its departure signals the bounty of the harvest (yay!).  It’s the perfect time of the year to grab all the locally grown goodies from markets and farmers roadside stands.  Continue Reading →

Fried Eggplant with Tomato Sauce

fried eggplantEggplant, also known as aubergine, has not always been popular and yet there are oodles of eggplant recipes out there making this nightshade plant shine.  I’m sure if you ask your friends if they like it, you’ll receive mixed reviews.  It must be a North American thing ’cause everywhere else this humble plant is consumed weekly.  Eggplant had been in Asia for centuries before being introduced to the Mediterranean by the Arabs in the Middle Ages.  Continue Reading →

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush by The Culinary ChaseBaba Ganoush is a Middle Eastern dip made from eggplants. I’ve made this dip many times over the years and it’s an easy dish to make.  It requires only a few ingredients and the key is to use these to enhance the flavor of the eggplant.  If you are not a fan of eggplant, this dip might be the reason to reconsider.  Commercial versions can be somewhat bland, watery, bitter and, quite frankly, nondescript.   The secret behind an excellent baba ganoush lies in the cooking of the eggplant.  Charring the skin is key as it gives the flesh a smokey taste.  To achieve this you’ll need an intense heat from a broiler or a direct flame (I use the bbq).  Char the eggplant well.  You’ll know it’s done when the skin becomes very tight and will suddenly pop and steam will escape (not explode).  This is your cue to remove and allow to cool down before removing the skin.  Don’t worry if the skin looks really black, the insides will have a wonderful smokey flavor.

Serves 6
2 or 3 medium-sized eggplant (aubergine)
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons tahini (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
olive oil

eggplantPlace eggplants on the grill of a barbecue over medium-high heat. Char the outside of the eggplant, turning occasionally until charred all over.  Alternatively, use the broiler in your stove and cook, turning occasionally until very soft. Remove from grill or oven and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool to room temperature. Remove wrap, cut ends off and peel eggplant (discard skin) – the skin should come off easily. If not, the flesh of the eggplant won’t be cooked enough and will taste bitter. Once peeled, chop eggplant flesh and place in a bowl. Add tahini, cumin, lemon juice and mash with a fork or a hand blender. Season and adjust according to taste.  Add a splash of olive oil and whip with a fork. Serve with pita bread, crackers, or sliced baguette.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Baba Ganoush can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Baby Eggplant with Gruyère and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

baby eggplant with Gruyère & sun-dried tomatoes by The Culinary ChaseFor whatever the reason, I was having difficulty planning dinner last night.  My brain was all over the food road map!  So instead of trying to figure of what to have I decided on a tapas-style evening of little plates of food.  Tapas are appetizers enjoyed by the Spanish.  It allows for everyone at the table to enjoy conversing with one another rather than focusing on eating a whole meal.  I love this way of eating!  Eggplant and Gruyère go well together but add the sun-dried tomatoes and you have a simply delightful dish.  Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The skin of the eggplant is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.  To learn more about this nightshade family of vegetables, visit WHFoods.

Serves 4
adapted from The Gardener & The Grill

4 small eggplants
sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Gruyère, shredded

seasoned baby eggplant

seasoned baby eggplant

Trim both ends off the eggplants. Cut into quarters (lengthwise) and salt. Place in a colander and let drain 30 minutes. Pat dry. In a bowl mix garlic, oil and oregano. Add eggplant and toss to combine making sure all sides are coated. Grill eggplant and turn each side until cooked (tender to touch), about 8 or so minutes. Arrange eggplant wedges on a platter, top with cheese and chopped tomatoes. Add a splash of olive oil and serve.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Oh my stars these were good!  The heat from the eggplant was just enough to help melt the Gruyère.  Enjoy!

Grilled Vegetable Stacks with a Feta Salsa

grilled vegetable stacks with feta salsaIt’s been a scorcher the last two weeks but that hasn’t stopped us from being outdoors.  Summer for us automatically means using the barbeque more – and we grill anything! Of course we grill the usual suspects such as meat, chicken, fish and veggies.  But we also love grilled bread, pizza, artichokes, onions, romaine lettuce, radicchio, Belgium endive, peaches, pineapple, corn on the cob, flatbread, lemons, halloumi cheese…phew! and that’s only the beginning.  Just about anything you cook inside can be taken outdoors.  For dessert think outside the kitchen box and try grilling pound cake slices, banana nutella s’mores, banana split, watermelon etc.  All stone fruits work well on the grill and they end up with a sweeter taste.

Serves 4 as a side
1 cup Greek feta cheese, crumbled
zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
olive oil
zucchini, sliced
eggplant, sliced
yellow summer squash, sliced

Combine feta, lemon zest, garlic, and olives in a small bowl. Add enough olive oil to moisten the feta mixture; stir to combine. Preheat bbq to 350f. Lightly brush olive oil on the veggies, season and grill both sides until cooked – about 5 minutes depending on how thick the slices are. Remove from heat. To serve, place an eggplant slice on a plate followed by a spoonful of feta salsa, slice of zucchini, another spoonful of feta salsa and topped with summer squash slice. Top the summer squash with a small spoonful of the feta salsa. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

feta salsaThe Culinary Chase’s Note: These grilled vegetable stacks can be prepared straight from the grill or served at room temperature. Either way you’re going to love the flavors. Enjoy!