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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Bruce’s beautiful broccoli dish

You may not have known but I am married to not only a wonderful composer, but a wonderful cook. Because he’s such a brilliant orchestrator of his own music, that attention to detail works wonders with his food preparations too. He just knows how to combine flavors, textures, tweak, and make all his food look and taste stunning.
This recipe he makes up, so I have had to stand over him and catch the ingredients as he throws them into the bowl, then measure them and give them back to him to re-throw. It has taken several times to get it right and he continues to tweak the recipe but to me, there is no better dish using broccoli out there.

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Serves 2, but can easily be augmented

4 Cipollini onions
1 large head of broccoli
1/2 cup whole cashews or slivered blanched almonds
3 cloves garlic or granulated garlic to taste
Dried chili pepper flakes
1/3 cup smoked sun-dried tomatoes (the smoked ones are preferable if you can find them)
1/2 cup good olive oil
salt and pepper

First, fill a large pot of salted water and bring to the boil. This is for the broccoli and onions.
Peel and quarter the onions. Chop the garlic if using real garlic. Cut the broccoli into florets and cut the stems into 1/4 inch slices.

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Lightly toast the nuts, then put these into a large bowl. Add the chopped garlic or 4 to 5 shakes of granulated garlic, 4 big pinches of salt and 2 good pinches of dried chili pepper.
Julienne the sun dried tomatoes and add them to the bowl.

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When the water is boiling, add the broccoli and onions and cook for 3 minutes only. (Please use a timer for this) Drain and add to the bowl with the nuts and sun dried tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, toss together and season very well. It can take a good whack of salt but taste as you season to check.

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Bruce’s beautiful broccoli dish

Serves 2, but can easily be augmented

4 Cipollini onions
1 large head of broccoli
1/2 cup whole cashews or slivered blanched almonds
3 cloves garlic or granulated garlic to taste
Dried chili pepper flakes
1/3 cup smoked sun-dried tomatoes (the smoked ones are preferable if you can find them)
1/2 cup good olive oil
salt and pepper

First, fill a large pot of salted water and bring to the boil. This is for the broccoli and onions.

Peel and quarter the onions. Chop the garlic if using real garlic. Cut the broccoli into florets and cut the stems into 1/4 inch slices.
Lightly toast the nuts, then put these into a large bowl. Add the chopped garlic or 4 to 5 shakes of granulated garlic, 4 big pinches of salt and 2 good pinches of dried chili pepper.
Julienne the sun dried tomatoes and add them to the bowl.

When the water is boiling, add the broccoli and onions and cook for 3 minutes only. (Please use a timer for this) Drain and add to the bowl with the nuts and sun dried tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, toss together and season very well. It can take a good whack of salt but taste as you season to check.

Watermelon Tomato Salad with Cumin and Fennel

Another vegan, dairy-free beauty of a salad (from Food 52) for those hot summer days. If you like, you can add crumbles Greek feta cheese or even sliced Kalamata olives to have some variety, of course it would become vegetarian.

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Serves 6

6 cups cubed (1/2-inch cubes) watermelon
2 heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp sugar
Salt
1/4 cup sliced mint
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chile powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional – Greek feta cheese, crumbled
halved pitted Kalamata olives

Puree 2 cups of the watermelon in a blender and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining watermelon and tomato and toss with the sugar, a large pinch of salt, the mint, and lime juice.

Set a large saute pan over medium heat and add enough oil to thinly coat the base of the pan. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the cumin, fennel, and ginger, and toast for 30 seconds. Add the turmeric and chile powder, then 1/2 cup watermelon juice, and the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer. Add salt or sugar as desired, and cook for 1 minute.

Pour the sauce over the watermelon and tomatoes and gently fold together. Divide among 6 shallow bowls, and serve.

Roasted tomatoes with goat cheese polenta and garlic spinach

This recipe is from the blog “Pinch of Yum” and is absolutely delicious. We are trying to eat less meat and you wouldn’t miss it with this.

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Serves: 4

3 cups cherry tomatoes (or small tomatoes – tricolor or heirloom are super pretty!)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic
3 cups spinach
3 cups water or vegetable broth
1 cup loose polenta (I used Bob’s Red Mill, also available on Amazon)
4 oz goat cheese
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Wash the tomatoes, place on a baking sheet, and pat dry. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast for 10 minutes, gently turn the tomatoes, and repeat until the tomatoes are browned, about 30 minutes. You can turn the heat up to 450 at the end to get more browning action.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy pan. Add the garlic and saute gently until fragrant, but do not brown – browned garlic tastes bitter and gross. When the garlic is smelling incredible, add the spinach and turn off the heat. You should be able to just keep stirring the spinach around for a minute and it will wilt and reduce in size. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.

In the same pan, bring the water/vegetable broth to a bowl. Add the polenta and whisk until smooth. Simmer for 15 minutes or so until the polenta has thickened. Add the goat cheese and the salt and stir until smooth. Taste and adjust as necessary. Serve the polenta immediately with the tomatoes and the spinach.

* The polenta thickens and hardens as it starts cooling – but for this recipe, I liked the polenta soft, so if you need to loosen it up a bit, just add some water or milk and whisk until smooth.

Giada’s easy cheesy risotto cake

This is a very easy and tasty recipe and perfect for those summer get-togethers.

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Serves 6 to 8

Butter, for greasing the pan.
Rice
2 cups Marinara or tomato-basil sauce
1 cup Arborio rice

Bechamel Sauce
3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

To assemble
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil.

For the rice:
Bring the marinara sauce and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
For the bechamel sauce:
Melt the butter in a 1 quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and grated nutmeg.

For assembly:
Mix together the bechamel sauce, rice mixture, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and the prosciutto and peas in a medium bowl. Slowly mix in the eggs, salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into the prepared spring form pan and cover with foil. Place in a shallow roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Preheat the broiler. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese and the breadcrumbs. Broil just enough to melt the cheese and create a crispy crust, about 3 minutes/
Cool for 15 minutes.
Loosen the risotto from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the edge. Remove the sides of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

Zucchini Parmesan

This is a simple layered casserole with three elements: roasted zucchini, a really good homemade tomato sauce and Parmesan.
Roasting, rather than frying the zucchini, allows you to cut down on olive oil and time.
Thanks to Martha Rose Shulman

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6 servings

For the tomato sauce:
2 to 2½ lbs fresh ripe tomatoes
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
2 good sprigs fresh basil
1 & 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

For the zucchini Parmesan:
2 to 2¼ lbs zucchini
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ to 1 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
¾ to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

If you have a food mill, quarter tomatoes. If not, peel, seed and chop them. (See step 5.)

To make the tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and basil sprigs. Increase the heat to medium-high.

When the tomatoes are bubbling briskly, stir and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and are beginning to stick to pan, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on consistency. Remove the basil sprigs; taste and adjust seasoning.
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment. Trim the ends off the zucchini and cut in half crosswise, then into lengthwise slices, about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange the zucchini slices on baking sheets in one layer and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Roast for 12 minutes, until lightly browned and easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees.

If using a food mill, put the sauce through a medium blade. If not, pulse the sauce in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until just coarsely puréed. Stir in the chopped basil.

To assemble the dish, oil a 2-quart gratin with olive oil. Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of dish. Arrange a third of the zucchini in an even layer over the tomato sauce. Spoon a third of the remaining sauce over zucchini and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Repeat with 2 more layers, ending with 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Drizzle on the remaining tablespoon olive oil.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and browned on the top and edges. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Stuffed roast peppers with goat cheese, chorizo, rice, tomato, zucchini and orange

This started out as a vegetarian recipe and still can, if you eliminate the chorizo. I happen to think it adds a layer of flavor  that raises the bar. If you don’t like goat cheese they work really well with feta cheese too.

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This recipe serves 2 but can easily be doubled

1¾oz wholegrain long-grain rice
1 red and 1 yellow pepper
olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
8oz Spanish chorizo, diced very small or crumbled.
1 courgette, diced
2½oz cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin ( roast my cumin before grinding it)
1 tsp ground coriander
¾oz toasted flaked almonds
½ orange, zest only, finely grated
3 heaped tbsp roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley (or cilantro)
3½oz mild goats’ cheese, rind removed and cheese cut into chunks (or feta cheese, but make it the Greek one)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F
Cook the rice in a pan of boiling water for 25 minutes, or until just tender, then drain.
Meanwhile, cut the peppers in half from top to bottom and discard the seeds. Place, open-side up, on a baking tray (cut a sliver from the base if necessary to help them sit flat). Bake for 15 minutes.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a frying pan and over medium heat, fry the chorizo for 5 minutes, then add the onion and courgette over a medium heat, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, cumin and coriander and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Tip into a large heatproof bowl and stir in the almonds and orange zest.

Add the rice and parsley and season with a little salt and lots of pepper. Mix together.

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture. Dot with the cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the peppers are softened and the filling is piping hot.