We are in eggplant season, and I wanted to share an easy recipe I adapted a long while ago from Giada DeLaurentiis. As usual, I use whatever I have handy in my pantry, fridge and what I believe my taste buds will prefer.
It’s easy to make, and the leftovers keep very well.
PASTA WITH EGGPLANT PUREE
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes
½ pint of cherry tomatoes or 2 small tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup of walnuts, toasted
½ bag of whole-wheat penne pasta
2 tbs Olive Oil
½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped finely – optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- While the oven is heating, place walnuts on a baking sheet with lined with parchment paper. Toast in the oven until you get a first whiff of walnut smell, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool on a separate plate.
- Line the baking sheet with new parchment paper. Place the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic on baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread them evenly on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes.
- While we wait for the vegetables to cool of a bit, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to the same pot where you cooked it.
- While the pasta is cooking, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor and puree to form a chunky paste.
- Transfer the pureed vegetables to the pot with the pasta, add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time until the pasta is saucy. Add the walnuts and chopped parsley, if using, and toss again.
I am a fan of Italian flavors… and this recipe fits very well with the flavors of autumn. We do not have autumn here in Puerto Rico, but pumpkin is a favorite of mine and I wanted to do something that would highlight the flavor and nutrition of the pumpkin. Plus, I still had some pumpkin seeds in my fridge I wanted to use up…
1 ½ cups of pumpkin, peeled and cubed
4 tbs quick cooking polenta
½ cup of water
½ cup of milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted – as garnish
- First we steam the pumpkin… place in a steamer for about 10-15 minutes to cook thoroughly. After the pumpkin is done, mash it well and place it in a colander lined with a coffee filter or a paper towel and let the moisture of the pumpkin drain out a bit. This can be done well in advance before moving on to the rest of the steps.
- Then we make the polenta… I heat the water, milk and salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the polenta while stirring to avoid getting lumps. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue stirring until the desired consistency, which is like a smooth cream of wheat. I’ll be honest; I follow the instructions on the polenta package I buy. If the instructions on your package are different, follow the instructions on your package, but what I do is to replace ½ the water the recipe calls for milk – makes a creamier polenta, in my opinion.
- When the polenta reached the desired consistency, add the drained pumpkin puree, the grated cheese and season with pepper. Stir well for the cheese to melt and the pumpkin to combine well with the polenta cream.
- Serve warm and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds.
Great vegetarian alternative for Thanksgiving lunch or dinner… don’t you think?
With my stove out of commission for a few weeks, I resorted to my trusted friend the rice cooker to help me out in the kitchen.
This is a dish I used to order a lot as accompaniment when I used to eat at La Parrilla Argentina, a “fast food” joint found here in PR in mall food courts. Never been to Argentina, it’s still in my to-travel list, but apparently this is a popular side dish too. The name is “french” but that’s the way the named it at La Parrilla, I guess because it uses parsley and garlic.
It’s easy to make, delicious and you don’t need to occupy a stove range when making it. I usually set the rice cooker and then go off to take a shower, meditate, and do other stuff without having to tend to the food itself. Rice cookers are the best invention ever…
1 cup of whole grain, brown Texmati rice (I use the measure in my rice cooker… so I am not completely sure if my “cup” is the same size as yours)
1 tbs sofrito or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ cup minced flat leaf Italian parsley
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Measure rice and wash well.
- Place in the rice cooker and fill with rice with about ¼ more than the rice cooker lines say. Brown Texmati rice needs a bit more water than regular white rice.
- Add the sofrito, salt and olive oil to taste. Mix it all in a bit. I usually pour about 1 tsp to 2 tsp of oil. I learned to do this by “eyeballing” it. Cover and turn the rice cooker on.
- In my rice cooker, when the chime goes off, I still need to let it rest for about 10-15 more minutes to make sure the steam finish cooking the rice. After this time has passed, fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the parsley and the parmesan cheese.
- Let the flavors meld for about 5-10 minutes more and serve.
I had this rice with a tomato and avocado salad and french fries. YUM!!
Hey guys… KarmaFree Cooking has been getting some exposure on the web.
My friend Silka, from Siembra 3 Vidas CSA Farm is featuring in her blog a series of interviews with the supporters of the CSA project. An interview about me was featured last August 24. I know the text is in Spanish, but I promise to edit this post with the translation into English.
Click here to read the full interview…
In my CSA box we’ve been receiving many eggplants and zucchini… why not combine them both in one of my favorite applications? A SANDWICH!!!
Super simple, super tasty and travels really well…
GRILLED EGGPLANT AND ZUCCHINI SANDWICH
1 small Japanese or Italian eggplant
1 small zucchini or summer squash
2 oz of goat cheese, at room temperature works best
A handful of arugula lettuce – washed well and pat dry
Extra virgin Olive oil
Sea salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
1 whole-wheat whole grain demi baguette
- Preheat your grill – I use my George Foreman grill for this…
- Slice the eggplant and the zucchini in ¼ inch slices. Brush with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place on the grill for about 4-5 minutes to cook and get pretty grill marks.
- In the meantime, slice the baguette in top and bottom halves and toast in a toaster oven. Slather both sides of bread with goat cheese. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper to season cheese.
- Remove the eggplant and zucchini slices from grill and let cool down a bit. Place on bottom half of bread. Add lettuce on top of grilled veggies. Season lettuce with a bit of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Top with top half of bread.
Simple, yet very tasty and nutritious. You could add some tomatoes or even some roasted red peppers or roasted piquillo peppers too.