Eggplant bake with spicy coconut milk and tomatoes

A lovely vegan comfort food with warming spices and creamy coconut milk.

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4 eggplants cut into 1/4″ slices
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
1/4 tsp hot chilli powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 x 14oz cans chopped tomatoes
8 fl oz coconut milk
sugar, to taste
2 tbsp flaked almonds
small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 425 F. Generously brush each eggplant slice with vegetable oil and place in a single layer on a baking tray, or two if they don’t fit on one. Cook on the low shelves for 10 mins, then turn over and cook for a further 5-10 mins until they are golden. Reduce the oven to 350 F.

Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and add the onions. Cover and sweat on a low heat for about 5 mins until softened. Add the garlic, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, garam masala, chilli powder, cinnamon stick, cumin and ground coriander. Cook for a few secs until it starts to smell beautiful and aromatic.

Pour the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk into the spiced onions and stir well. Check the seasoning and add a little sugar, salt or pepper to taste.

Spoon a third of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 4 pint ovenproof dish. Layer with half the eggplant slices. Spoon over a further third of tomato sauce, then the remaining eggplant slices, and finish with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and cilantro (if using), reserving some to serve, and bake for 25-30 mins. Serve garnished with more cilantro.

Pan-fried eggplant with balsamic, basil and capers

Sweet, mild eggplant pairs with briny capers, floral basil, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Beautiful combination.

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Serves 4
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil
2 small eggplant (about 8 oz. each), trimmed and sliced 1/3″thick crosswise.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste>
2 tbsp. capers
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced

Simmer the vinegar over medium heat in a 1-qt saucepan until reduced to a thick syrup, about 15 minutes.
Heat half the oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, fry eggplant, flipping once, until golden-brown, 5–7 minutes.
Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter; drizzle with balsamic.
Garnish with capers and basil.

Caponata ratatouille

Mediterranean vegetarian food is the most comforting to eat and beautiful to look at. This is a combination of the Provencal ratatouille and Italian caponata with the briny capers and olives added for a punch. It is from the wonderful BBC Food website and is very low calorie. If you need anything else with it, you could boil some rice or pasta with it.

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Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil
1lb 10 oz eggplant, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks. If you don’t like eggplants you can use zucchini instead
1 large onion, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
3 celery sticks, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, skinned,deseeded and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp caper, drained
small handful pitted green olives
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
To garnish;
chopped toasted almonds
Chopped Italian parsley

Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan until very hot, add the eggplant and fry for about 15 minutes or until very soft. Add a little boiling water or stock to prevent sticking if necessary.
Meanwhile, place the onion and celery in a large saucepan with a little water or stock. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender but still firm.
Add the tomatoes, thyme, cayenne pepper, and eggplants to the saucepan. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the capers, olives, vinegar, sugar and cocoa powder and cook for 2 to 4 minutes.
Season with freshly ground pepper and add salt if you think you need it.
Divide between 6 bowls, garnish with the toasted almonds and chopped parsley and serve.

Eggplant rolls with spinach and ricotta

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This is a glorious dish for those days you just can’t be bothered to cook meat and you won’t miss it at all.
It also works well as a starter for a dinner party, followed by a light main course.

Serves 4
2 eggplants, cut into thin slices lengthways
2 tbsp olive oil
1lb (500g)fresh spinach
8oz (250g) tub ricotta
a good grating of fresh nutmeg
350 g (0r 13 oz) jar of good marinara sauce
5 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
5 tbsp good parmesan cheese, grated

Heat the oven to 400 F.
Brush both sides of the eggplant with oil, then lay on a large baking sheet. bake for 15 to 20 minutes until tender, turning once.
Meanwhile, put the spinach in a large colander and pour over a kettle of boiling water to wilt.
Cool, then squeeze out the excess water, so that it is dry. Mix with the ricotta, nutmeg and plenty of seasoning.
Dollop a spoonful of the cheesy spinach mixture in the center of each eggplant slice, fold over to make a parcel and lay, sealed-side down, in an ovenproof dish.
Pour over the marinara sauce, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese and bake for 20 to 30 mins until golden and piping hot


Meaty melanzane parmigiana

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There is not much to say about this as it’s a complete meal and all you need to do is make a green salad. Simply divine!
What could be nicer than ground meat in with the Melanzane Parmigiana? This comes direct from the one and only BBC Good Food magazine.

Serves 6
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing
2lbs ground lamb
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 thyme sprigs
4 rosemary sprigs
3 large bay leaves
2 x 14 oz or (1x 28 oz) can chopped tomatoes or tomato passata
a good glass of drinkable red wine
1 lamb or chicken stock cube
1 good handful of fresh basil, sliced roughly
1 tbsp sugar
5 large eggplants, sliced lengthways into 1/4 inch slices
2 x 7 oz balls mozzarella cheese, torn into chunks
8 oz good parmesan cheese, grated
6 oz mascarpone cheese

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or flameproof dish. Add the ground meat and brown over high heat, breaking up with a fork as you go. You may need to do this in batches. Once well browned, tip onto a plate and set aside.
Add more oil, the garlic and herbs to the pan and gently cook for 1 minute. Tip in the tomatoes and red wine and bring to a simmer, stirring up any meaty bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the ground meat to the pan, crumble in the stock cube and add the sugar and seasoning. Gently simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally, splashing in more water (or lamb/chicken broth, if you have some) to keep it saucy if you need to. If you have time to simmer for longer, go for it – the longer the better for great flavor and intensity. Now fish out the herb stalks and bay leaves.
Meanwhile, heat a griddle or frying pan. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil, then griddle in batches. You want each slice softened and slightly charred, so don’t have the heat too high or the eggplant will char before softening. Remove to a plate as you go.
Heat the oven to 350 F.
Set aside some of each cheese to go on top. In a large baking dish, spread a large spoonful of meat mixture over the base, then a layer of eggplant and season well. Spoon over more meat sauce then scatter over some fresh basil, mozzarella, parmesan and blobs of mascarpone cheese.
Add another layer of eggplant and some seasoning. Repeat, layering everything up and finish with a layer of meat sauce. Top with your reserved cheese and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is crisp and golden and the meat mixture is bubbling.






Soba noodles with miso and baby eggplant

Soba noodles with miso and baby eggplant


Another vegetarian, Asian influenced dish. I just love the combination of flavors and ease of creating.

Serves 4
9 oz soba noodles
3 tsp dashi granules
1 1/2 tbsp yellow miso paste
1 1/2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
6 baby eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch slices
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup cooked peas (if using frozen, boil them in water for 3 minutes and drain)
3 scallions (spring onions) sliced thinly on the diagonal
toasted sesame seeds for garnish.

Cook the noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water fr 5 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water.
Dissolve the dashi granules in 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Stir in the miso paste, soy sauce and mirin.
Heat half the oils in a large frying pan over high heat.
Cook the eggplant slices for 4 minutes, or until golden on both sides. Set aside and use the remaining oil to cook the second batch of eggplant.
Put the first batch of cooked eggplant slices back in the pan and  stir in the garlic and ginger, then the miso mixture and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened and the eggplant is cooked. Add the noodles and peas and cook for 2 minutes or until heated through.
Serve the noodles in shallow bowls and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.



Eggplant and buckwheat (soba) noodle salad

I just LOVE soba noodles and Asian flavors. I think I have some other recipes on this blog for soba noodle salads, but this is another variation and is a very quick meal to make

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 oz dried shitake mushrooms
3/4 lb buckwheat (soba) noodles
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp peanut oil
2 Japanese eggplants, cut into very thin strips
2 carrots, julienned
10 scallions, cut diagonally
6 fresh shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Soak the dried shitake mushrooms in 1/2 cup hot water for 10 minutes.
Drain, reserving the liquid.
Discard the woody stems and finely slice the caps.

Cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes or until tender.
Rinse under cold water, then toss with 1 tsp of the sesame oil.

Combine the tahini, light and dark soy sauces, honey, lemon juice, 2 tbsp of the reserved mushrom liquid and the remaining sesame oil in a food processor until smooth.

Heat 2 tbsp peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, turning often, for 4 to 5 minutes or until soft and golden.
Drain on paper towels.

Heat the remaining oil.
Add the carrots, scallions and fresh and dried mushrooms.
Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until just softened.
Remove from the heat and toss with the noodles, eggplant and dressing.

Garnish with the cilantro and sesame seeds

Braised Turkish chicken

So many interesting flavors going on here, and all in one pot! I love “one-pot cooking.

Serves 4

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 large free range chicken thighs
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 red pepper, sliced in rings
1 small eggplant, diced into 1 inch chunks
1 green chile, sliced, with seeds
Handful of fresh thyme, tied together with string
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (I roast my own as they are more pungent)
4 oz of spiced Turkish sausage, or chorizo, skinned and sliced in 3/4 inch pieces
2 oz fine bulgar wheat
6 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced
2 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
17 fl oz chicken stock
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses or tamarind paste
1 small cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Pre-heat the oven to 375 F

Heat the olive olive oil in a heavy based saucepan until almost smoking and season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and a splash of oil.

Put the thighs in the pan, skin side down and cook until the skin is nicely browned.

Lift them out and then add the onions, garlic, eggplant, chile, thyme, cumin and sausage for about 12 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Add the bulgar and dates, followed by the tomato puree and stir well.
Pour in the red wine vinegar, followed by the chicken stock, pomegranate molasses, cinnamon and star anise and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat off and nestle the thighs back in so that the flesh is under the liquid but the skin is still sticking out.
Put a lid on the pan and put it in the oven for 40 minutes.
When you take it out, remove the lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Serve with great bread.


Roasted vegetable couscous salad with harissa-style dressing

I am not a vegetarian but seem to have a lot of vegetarian recipes on this blog. I adore vegetarian food and always feel better when eating it, I just can’t do without the other stuff!

This is one of, if not the best vegetarian salads you can make.
Delia Smith is a genius in combining these vegetables, lettuces and grains into something you will remember for a long time.

Serve 4 as a main or 8 as a starter

For the roasted vegetables
1 small eggplant
2 medium zucchini
1lb cherry tomatoes, skinned, if you have the patience!
1 small red pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
1 small bulb fennel, chopped
1 large onion, sliced and cut into 1 inch squares
2 fat cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, torn so that they stay visible
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oz pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
1 heaped tbsp capers, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the couscous
10 oz medium couscous
18 fl oz vegetable stock, put on to boil. (If you are not vegetarian, it’s nice to use chicken stock)
4oz firm goat’s cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad
1 x 3oz packet mixed lettuce leaves (such as lettuce, cilantro leaves, flat leaf parsley, arugula, spring mix etc)

For the dressing
4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
1 rounded tsp cayenne pepper
2 level tbsp ground cumin (I use home roasted)
2 heaped tbsp tomato puree
4 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

To garnish
1 level tbsp black onion seeds

You will need a large shallow roasting tin for the vegetables

First, prepare the roasted vegetables;
Prepare the eggplant and zucchini ahead of time by cutting them into 1 inch dice, leaving their skins on. Then toss the dice in a level dessertspoon of salt and pack them into a colander with a plate on top and a heavy weight on top of the plate. Leave them on one side for a hour so that some of the bitter juices drain out (Put a bowl underneath to catch the liquid)
After that, squeeze out any juices left and dry the dice thoroughly in a clean cloth.

Preheat the oven to 475 F
Now arrange the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, pepper, fennel and onions in the roasting tin, sprinkle with the crushed garlic, basil and olive oil, toss everything around in the olive oil to get a good coating and season well with salt and pepper.
Place the tin on the highest shelf in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are toasted brown at the edges. When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and stir in the chopped olives and the capers then remove them to a plate to cool.

When you’re ready to assemble the salad, first place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl, then pour the boiling stock over it, add some salt and pepper, stir it with a fork then leave on one side for 5 minutes, by which time it will have absorbed all the stock and softened.
Meanwhile cut the cheese into sugar-cube sized pieces.
Make up the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl, then pour into a serving pitcher.

To serve this wonderful salad, place the couscous in a large, wide salad bowl, (a clear bowl is lovely so you can see the layers, see the picture)
Gently fork in the cubes of cheese along with the roasted vegetables.
Next arrange the salad leaves on top and just before serving, drizzle a little of the dressing over the top followed by a sprinkling of onion seeds and hand the rest of the dressing around separately.

Note – Onion seeds look gorgeous on this salad, but beware, they can get stuck in your teeth which can make you look like you have a mouth full of fillings!


Grilled vegetable stack

Being on vacation for two weeks in Sonoma County gives me a chance to try all the local produce and what with this weather topping 99F several times, the grill is being used a lot.
I saved this recipe from another blog and the addition of hummus is lovely. You can flavor the hummus with chipotle sauce (not too much) for a smokey hint, or fresh basil and garlic or even some sun dried tomato. It also provides a “glue” for the vegetables to sit on so they don’t slide off the mushroom.

1 large red onion, peeled, trimmed and sliced into 6 slices
2 large red bell peppers, cored, sliced into three pieces
2 large yellow peppers, cored, sliced into 3 pieces
1 large zucchini, halved, sliced lengthways to make 6 pieces
1 large yellow squash, halved, sliced lengthways, to make 6 pieces
1 medium – large eggplant, trimmed, sliced into 6 pieces
6 large portobello mushroom caps, stemmed, gills removed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 tsp each of dried thyme, dill and parsley
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Lemon hummus recipe below
For serving
fresh chopped chives

In a large bowl combine the onion, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and portobello mushrooms.
In a small glass bowl combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, dill and parsley.
Pour the marinade over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Gently toss to coat.
Cover and marinate for 1 hour.
Heat the grill to medium – high heat

Place the vegetables in a grill basket (or spread them out on a large sheet of foil)
Place on the hot grill, cover and cook until they are tender crisp, about 20 to 25 minutes, depending upon the size of your grill.

Remove the vegetable basket/foil with vegetables to a large platter and set aside.

To serve, create a vegetable stack.
Place the portobello mushroom cap on a serving plate and layer it with a spoonful of lemon or other flavored hummus. Add the eggplant, peppers, zucchini and onion. Top with a dab more hummus, if desired and sprinkle with the fresh chopped chives.
Repeat for the remaining 5 servings


This is so easy to make at home. (If you don’t want to, then buy a good brand and add extra lemon juice, garlic or other flavorings to make it taste less commercial.)

1 x 14 oz can chilled chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), drained. Reserve the liquid
Juice and zest of one large fresh lemon
2 tbsp sesame tahini or almond butter
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
Pinch of sea salt to taste
4 tbsp good olive oil

Combine the chilled chickpeas, lemon juice, lemon zest, tahini, garlic and sea salt in a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine.
Turn on the processor and pour in the olive oil and a dash of the reserved liquid and process until creamy smooth.

Scoop into a serving bowl. Cover and chill until serving.
Serve this lemony hummus layered in the grilled vegetable stacks (recipe above) or as a protein-rich condiment to your favorite grilled dishes