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.

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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