Oven-baked eggplants two ways

The other day I bought some eggplants at the farmers’ market. I love eggplants and one of my favorite way of cooking them is to roast them in the oven: when you cook them this way they get kind of a smoky flavor, which makes oven-baked eggplants the main character in any meal. As you will see I use the roasted eggplants in two way: one as a vegetarian entree and one as a pasta sauce.

Oven-baked eggplants twoways

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants
  • 1 spoon capers
  • 1 small onion
  • 5 dried tomatoes
  • 1 spoon tomato paste
  • salt

Directions

  1. I cut 2 eggplants in half lengthwise and then made some cuts in the flesh without slicing all the way through the peel. These helps cooking the eggplant evenly. Then I placed the eggplant sliced side up in an oven dish and seasoned them with salt, pepper, oregano and a lot of olive oil. I placed them in the oven preheated at 400F to roast for about 40 min to 1 hour depending on the size of the eggplants (mine were pretty big).
  2. In the mean time, I chopped up a couple of table spoons of capers a small onion and some dried tomatoes. I sauteed this mixture in olive oil for a couple of minutes and then added a table spoon of tomato paste. Seasoned with salt and added a bit of water so that the mixture could cook without burning.
  3. 10 minutes before eggplants were ready, I spread the mixture on the eggplants and then covered them with some aluminum foil. I put everything back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  4. Now as I anticipated I used the baked eggplants in two ways. One eggplant I ate like this as a vegetarian entree and out of the other I made a pasta sauce. For making the pasta sauce, all you have to do is put the flesh and seasoning of the eggplant (about 1 eggplant every 3 people) in a blender with a lot of olive oil and blend until you have a smooth cream. Use this cream as a sauce for some short pasta like rotini or penne. If you want you can add some basil, blak pepper and grated romano cheese.

Pasta with spicy roasted eggplants pesto

It is grilling season and I have been doing quite a bit of grilling lately. I even grilled pizza with great results. By the way I have to grill pizza again and take pics and write a post. It turned out so awesome I must share it with you guys!

Anyway another thing that I have been grilling a lot are eggplants. This last time I roasted half eggplants and marinated them in a spicy oil, chili flakes and caper marinate. We ate some at the barbecue dinner but were left with a couple, so I decided to transform them in a great sauce for my pasta. All I had to do was to blend them and add a couple of pine nuts: et voila’ a great sauce!

By the way this was my favorite recipe for July and I am sharing it on YBR: please stop by Nancy’s site and sign up with your best recipe! And don’t forget to check out the round up on the 31st and have a look at all the wonderful recipes posted for July!

Pasta with spicy roasted eggplants pesto

Pasta with spicy roasted eggplants pesto

Ingredients

Directions

For the roasted eggplants:

    1. Start by cutting the eggplants in half lengthwise and then score the pulp with diamond shaped cuts. Salt the eggplants and put them cut side down in a colander to drain some of their liquid. Let rest for about 30 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, warm up some oil and add in the chopped garlic with the anchovies the chili flakes and the oregano. Let it cook until the garlic is well roasted and the anchovies have dissolved in the oil. Put the oil in a shallow container that can hold the eggplants in a single layer.
    3. Squeeze the water from the eggplants and place them in the aromatic oil. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and then start grilling.
    4. You can roast the eggplants in the oven or on the grill. Just place the eggplants cut side down on the grill and let them cook until they become soft throughout (10-15 minutes). Take them off the grill and put them back in the container with the marinade.
    5. You can enjoy the eggplants hot, warm or cold and you can even preserve them in a jar covered in oil. Or you can use them for this great pasta sauce.

For the pasta

  1. Cook the pasta according to box instructions. I usually use fusilli or rotini because they can hold well a thick sauce. While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce by blending the eggplants with their marinade, the basil, and the tzatziki. If the sauce is too thick add a bit of water from the boiling pasta.
  2. When the pasta is ready drain it and dress it with the eggplant sauce. For a bit of crunch, toast a spoon or two of pine nuts and sprinkle them on top of the pasta.
  3. Enjoy!

Fusilli alla norma (with eggplants and ricotta salata)

The other day I was at Costco and I found ricotta salata. Ricotta salata is a cheese typical from sicily and is basically salted ricotta. fresh ricotta is salted so that it can be preserved for a longer time.

Of course I had to get some! And I had to cook it with some other typical sicilian ingredient like eggplant and create one of the most iconic sicilian dishes: pasta alla norma.

And of course I forgot to take pics until about half way through my meal, so sorry about the pics, but this pasta is so good I could not help myself!

I have just discovered Presto Pasta Night a great weekly event in which pasta from all over the blog sphere is shared with other bloggers and I decided there could not be a pasta event without me! So for my first participation I am sharing this pasta! Thanks to Simona of Briciole for hosting next week round-up

Fusilli alla norma (with eggplants and ricotta salata)

Fusilli alla norma (with eggplants and ricotta salata)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 oz pasta per person
  • 1 large or 2 small eggplants
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • pasta
  • basil
  • ricotta salata
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Start by cutting your eggplant in thin slices or in dices. Put the eggplant in a colander and salt them so that they can loose the vegetation water. Let them drain for about 30 minutes and then squeeze the eggplant, rinse them and pat them dry.
  2. Warm some oil in a pan and shallow fry the eggplants until perfectly cooked (about 5 minutes) then fish the eggplant out and place them on a dish lined with paper towels to remove the extra oil. In the same pan where you fried the eggplants, warm up the tomato sauce after about 5 minutes add the eggplants in the sauce and add a couple of shredded basil leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box. Choose short pasta such as penne, fusilli or rotini. Drain the pasta and dress with the sauce. Finally shave or grate ricotta salata on your pasta and serve hot.

Rabbit with eggplants recipe

One of my favorite summer dish is this family recipe for coniglio alla messinese (rabbit messina style). My great grand father was born in Sicily and when he moved back to my hometown in the North brought a couple of recipes with him and a love of eggplants that trickled down through my grandma to me.

So here is the recipe. It is meant to be made with rabbit and eaten lukewarm or even cold, but I won’t hold it against you if you prefer it hot or you decide to substitute rabbit with chicken. I know rabbit is not that common here and it might even be a bit scary to some, so if you need to, go ahead and substitute with chicken.

Rabbit with eggplants

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit cleaned and cut in 6 pieces (substitute with chicken)
  • 2 eggplants
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Start by dicing the eggplants. Place them in a colander and add salt. Let the eggplants loose their water for about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile start roasting the rabbit. In a pan warm up some oil with a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Cook them until brown and then add the rabbit pieces. Sear the rabbit on all sides and then add white wine. Let the wine evaporate. Season the rabbit with salt and pepper and cover with water. Let cook for about 40 minutes adding water whenever the water gets low. The water is key to keep the rabbit moist, but is not needed if you substitute with chicken.
  3. In a pan add a couple of spoons of oil and a garlic clove. When the garlic is browned add the diced celery and let it cook for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash the salt from the eggplants and add them to the celery. Cook on high heat until the eggplants are almost done. A minute before turning off the heat, pour the vinegar on the eggplants, let evaporate and turn off the heat.
  4. Combine the cooked rabbit with the eggplants and let them cool down. Serve the rabbit lukewarm or even cold (or hot if you cannot wait). It is delicious!

Lasagne with swordfish and eggplants

By now I should be exploring the temples in Angkor Wat: hope they are as magnificent as they say!!

What is it about lasagne that makes you want to eat them until your belly bursts? I don’t know but there is something about that layering of pasta and sauce that just makes me want to keep eating. I remember my mom cooking 2 big pans of lasagne for us when we were teenagers and we ate them all…. And there was only 3 of us!

Anyway here is a fish-y version of the traditional meat lasagne. It is much lighter than the traditional version of lasagne. So light that in fact you can eat it during a diet, of course you will have to portion control, which is not easy with lasagne, but limiting yourself to one medium serving would cost you less than 500 calories. Anyway, the lightness of this dish does not make it any less delicious than your traditional meat version.

You probably have noticed that I keep writing “lasagne” instead of the usual lasagna: it is not a mistake. Lasagna is the singular of lasagne and refers to the single pasta layer, so the whole dish is called lasagne not lasagna.

Lasagne with swordfish and eggplants

Lasagne with swordfish and eggplants

Ingredients

  • 5-6 sheets pasta
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 3-4 oz swordfish
  • lemon zest
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz. goat cheese for topping (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Start by slicing the swordfish into 1/2 inch thick slices. Cook the swordfish in a bit of hot olive oil. When the swordfish is seared on all sides add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Season with salt, pepper and lemon zest and let cook for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, slice your eggplant and place the slices in a single layer on an oven dish. Cook the eggplant in 400F oven until the eggplant is soft (about 10-15 minutes). When it’s ready take it out and set aside.
  3. If you use dry lasagne sheets, then you should blanch them in boiling water for 2-4 minutes to soften them up and make oven cooking faster. If you work with fresh pasta, you can skip blanching,
  4. In a pan assemble the lasagne. Start by pouring one or two spoons of sauce on the bottom of your pan, then start the layering. Place cover the sauce with pasta sheets, then layer some eggplant slices, the add the sauce. Again a layer of pasta, followed by eggplants, followed by eggplants. Keep layering until you run out of ingredients, trying to finish with one layer of pasta covered with just eggplants. I you are using it, crumble the goat cheese on top of the lasagne.
  5. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for about 20 minutes in a 375F oven,