Friday, September 13, 2013

Italian Burrito

I know what you are thinking..."That is the worst name."  Italian Burrito.  It doesn't sound, exactly, fancy.  I spent some time (about 3 minutes) pondering the best name for this.  Then, I stopped spending time pondering the name and ended up with Italian Burrito.

The only reason that I am fretting is...this is one of my favorite things I have had in a while.  And the name definitely belittles how amazing this is.

Let me paint you a picture (©mametown).  This is a wrap filled with Israeli couscous (i.e. pasta), sautéed eggplant, garlicky kale, roasted bell peppers, topped with a little shredded mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, and grated parmesan.  It you want a meal that is healthy but also not really, this is the meal for you.

Warning.  I made the marinara from tomatoes I grew and roasted the peppers from our CSA.  I have been shoveling so many raw tomatoes in my face over the course of the summer that I am now forced to cook them.  The eggplant and kale came in our CSA this week too.  So did the garlic.

Scot has a saying that I don't think I have shared yet on foodforscot.  If something is really good, he says it is a "knock out home run."  He says that but not as a joke.  He has said it long before he became a dad, but now all the pieces are starting to fit together.

Ok, well, he actually didn't call this dish a knock out, home run.  But that is because I ruined it.  I made this one night that Scot was working late.  I made it and ate it after baby bed time.  And THEN Scot came home and I made him one.  I always try to let Scot form his own opinion on a meal before giving him my opinion because he is a people pleaser and heavily influenced by my superb taste buds.  This time, though, I was scarfing it down when he walked in and I said something like, "OMG, this is the best thing ever."  In other words, knock out home run.

Italian Burrito
by foodforscot

1 eggplant (I used Rosa Bianca)
1 cup Israeli couscous
1 bunch kale (I used Tuscano kale), washed, de-stemmed, and torn into pieces
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1 cup marinara
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan
olive oil
4 whole wheat burrito tortillas

Prepare all the separate burrito fillings.

First, slice the eggplant and lay out in a single layer on a kitchen towel. Sprinkle each slice with salt and let sit for 15 minutes or longer. Turn each slice over and salt the other side. Let sit for 15 minutes or longer, on the new side. Once the eggplant slices have released some water, use another kitchen towel to pat dry and wipe excess salt off.

In the meantime, combine the couscous with 2 cups of water and a dash of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, remove lid, and let simmer until all the water has evaporated and couscous is tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Dice eggplant into cubes and sauté in olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the same pan over medium high heat, add some olive oil and the kale. Sauté for a few minutes until the kale has slightly wilted. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until the kale reaches desired cooked down-ness.

Assemble the burrito. Warm the tortilla over a gas burner, in the microwave, or in the oven so that is pliable. Top with couscous, kale, eggplant, and roasted peppers. Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese, spoon on some marinara, and sprinkle with parmesan. Wrap it up burrito style.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 45 hr., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  10/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort: 3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer Veggie Tacos

Our last two weeks of CSA (see below) have been beautiful.  So bountiful that we buy almost nothing from the grocery store.  Is this a problem?  No.  Is this amazing?  Yes.  Veggies all the time!!!

And a first....potatoes!  Potatoes are like a vegetarians guilty pleasure.  Potatoes warm my soul.  I have said that before when I have made potato soup, but it is so true.  I am sure that potatoes are one of the most like-able foods in the Universe.

But I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new potatoes from our share.  Red potatoes or yukon gold.  Picked young and small, they are such a treat!  They have not been provided as part of our share since they are not easy to come by.  But I have picked through the bulk potatoes for sale to get all the small ones on my own.  New potatoes or fully developed, they are still so good.

I have fond memories of digging for potatoes in the summer on the farm.  Gene would run some machinery through the potato plants to loosen up the dirt.  Then we would sit on the warm, dry ground and dig to find all the potatoes.  My knees would be stained with dirt.  My fingers nails were so dirty that only a couple hours swimming in the lake would make them clean again.  It was always fun to see how much each plant produced.  Sometime you would hit the jackpot.  And then there was always the chance that you would accidentally touch the soft, mushy, quartered seed potato.

When my potatoes arrived in my share, I was inspired to make some veggie tacos with potatoes!  The earthy potato was a great substitute for a meat or bean filling.  (Protein, Shmotein)

I have made a version of these veggie tacos twice with my Week 11 and 12 produce.  The taco above is a filling roasted potato, golden beets, and zucchini topped with a slaw.  

This version is a filling of potatoes, eggplants, and corn topped with a tomato pico and queso fresco.

I have included a recipe below that is general for any root veggie filling with a variety of options for toppings.  You could also do many other toppings that I did not list like:  sour cream, other cheeses, avocado, guacamole, other salsas, etc.  

Week 11:  Oat bread, herbs, eggs, assorted tomatoes, nectarines, plums, peaches (not part of CSA), sliced tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sungold tomatoes, salad mix, golden beets, cabbage, new potatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, green bell peppers, sweet yellow pepper, kale, collards, sweet corn

Week 12:  apples, plums, eggs, yogurt, 20 lbs of tomatoes, maple oat bread (not part of CSA), escarole, kale, eggplant, wax beans, two heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, sweet corn, green peppers, yellow peppers, 5 slicing tomatoes, thai eggplant.

Summer Veggie Tacos
by foodforscot

For filling:
2-3 cups diced summer root veggies (new potatoes, golden beets, carrots, turnips, etc.)
1-2 summer veggies (zucchini, eggplant (salt, let sit, and pat dry), green peppers, yellow summer squash, etc.) or ears of corn
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of cumin
½ tsp of chili powder
butter/olive oil

For toppings (choose as many or as few as you’d like):
Tomato pico de gallo (recipe below)
Cabbage slaw (recipe below)
Queso fresco (or cotija)

For tacos:
12 corn tortillas
lime wedges

For filling: There are a few ways you can prepare the filling, depending on whether or not you want to turn on the oven. One option is toss the root veggies, spices, olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes. Then, add diced summer veggies to the baking sheet. Bake another 15-25 minutes or until the root veggies are tender and everything is golden. This method is easier, but hotter.

Option two is to only use the stove top and grill. For this method, you will want to blanch the root veggies. To do that, place them in a medium pot or sauce pan. Cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until root veggies are tender. Drain and set aside. Using a cast iron fry pan, add some oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and spices and brown (5-10 minutes, stir occasionally). All the summer veggies can be sliced, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Grill summer veggies over medium-high heat until softened and blackened (3-5 minutes per side). Corn can be blackened directly on the grill and then cut the kernels off the cob. Once root veggies are browned, add summer veggies and cook together for a few minutes before serving. This method is more work, a little less hot, and a little tastier.

For toppings: prepare your choice of toppings. Crumble cheeses.

For tacos: On the grill or directly over a gas burner, cook the corn tortillas until soft, pliable, and slightly charred. Top with filling, your choice of toppings and serve with a lime wedge.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Tomato Pico de Gallo

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ of a red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cabbage Slaw

½ head of cabbage, finely shredded
1 green pepper, seeded and finely sliced
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 green hot pepper, seeded and finely minced
juice of 1 lime
1-2 tsp of white wine vinegar
1-2 tsp of olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning. This tastes better if it is made several hours in advance (or up to a few days).

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste) : 7/10
Scot (taste):  7/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Summer Pasta Puttanesca

Scot and I celebrated our 5 year anniv. yesterday.  I got nostalgic today and started looking through old photos and at all our wedding photos.  I thought I'd write a post in honor of Scot!  I don't think I have done that yet.  

Scot is pretty cool.  If you know him, you already have your mind made up on "who Scot is".  But, no one knows the Scot, who I know.  Obvious, maybe.  But some people grew up with Scot and they might think of him as this crazy, social, friends-with-everyone Scot.  Maybe you went to college with him, and you think of him as a funny, friendly, go-with-the-flow, soccer-playing Scot.  Maybe you are related to Scot and think of him as a Goofy-loving, car-liner-upper, Vikings fan Scot.  Maybe you went to grad school with Scot and think of him as a mountain-loving, sports-playing, fluid dynamicist Scot.  We all have so many versions of ourselves.  No one necessarily knows "the real" anyone...I am not saying I know "the real" Scot.  I just know my Scot.  

My Scot changes.  He is not the same Scot I met in the math tutoring center.  Or the same Scot I went to graduate school with.  Or the same Scot I married 5 years ago.  Or the same Scot I learned to golf, ice skate, hike, climb, bike, ski, cross country ski from.  Or even the same Scot who sat with me for over 3 days as our baby decided to slowly, but surely, make his way out of my body.  I mean, not that he had something else to do.  Still, a different Scot.  

But really, how do we define and write about a person like Scot.  He isn't just a guy who loves chocolate.  He isn't just a guy who seriously reads and looks at maps for fun.  He isn't just a guy who can solve any problem regardless of the subject.  

So who is my Scot?  He is the definition of passionate.  He has no medium.  He is on or off.  Black or white.  He can only live in the present.  Rarely interested in the past or future.  He has his own timescale.  One where everything important to him gets the time it deserves.  He is adaptable, but not instantly.  His emotions are strong and encompassing.  He has never not "given it his all".  This means he loves deeply, hurts deeply, and lives fully.  People love Scot.  All types of people.  Which may be most important of all.  

He is a great partner for me.  I think I can definitely do another 5 years.  So that's good.  

When we got married, we had a wedding.  Wedding planning isn't really Scot's thing.  It is more like the opposite of his thing.  If we were to get married NOW, wowzers, would we have a different wedding than the one we had.  But the one we had was the one we had.  Not the one we WOULD have.  So, it was perfect for that.  AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.  During our ceremony, we promised to do a flower exchange each year on our anniv.  It is really just another thing for Scot to have to remember.  He is supposed to give me a single flower and I am supposed to put it in a vase.  Not exactly fair, but it is ok.  Here is the first five years and two non-positive years of this tradition.  

Year -1:  Engagement.  One week after we got Copper.  (Engagements are weird.)

Year 0 - At Snow Mountain Ranch, Wedding day.  

Year 1 - In Boulder, eating the ice cream we had at our wedding.  Celebrated in Denver.

Year 2 - In Boston.  Celebrated in Little Italy.

Year 3 - In Fairfield, CT.  Celebrated in NYC.

Year 4 - In Boulder, CO.  Celebrated at Flagstaff House, where we ate for our engagement.

Year 5 - In Fairfield, CT.  Celebrated at home with Pasta Puttanesca and Peach Pie.  

Each year, we have done something totally different.  You'll notice we didn't even have the vase because we weren't home two of the annivs.  This year, we ate up the day with various forms of productivity, put baby to bed, and then made dinner and dessert.  Dinner was Summer Pasta Puttanesca.  It is a tomato sauce made with 1.5 lbs of cherry or grape tomatoes.  Since I hoard those, I had plenty.  The sauce is a chunky tomato sauce with olives and capers.  The recipe calls for a short cut pasta, but if I buy pasta, I really like the fresh pasta at Whole Foods.  It only comes in linguine, so that is what I used.  A delicious summer pasta.  

For dessert, I made peach pie.  I have been thinking about peach pie for about 3 weeks.  I am pretty sure that is normal.  Scot gets mad when I make large quantities of dessert because he doesn't like to waste food and also can't not eat leftover dessert.  But I couldn't take it anymore, I needed to make peach pie.  I often do not like pies.  I don't like pie filling that is thick and jelly like.  And I think for a long time, that is the only kind of pies I knew.  Therefore, I needed to make peach pie to see if I liked peach pie.  Everyone else does!

Turns out, I like peach pie.  My compromise was that I found and purchased a 6 inch pie pan.  And I made a mini pie.  The pic below has a mini pie, a paring knife (mini), and a pint of ice cream (mini).  Once a year, I do make a pie.  In the late summer, early fall, I usually make an apple pie.  Warm apple pie with ice cream is definitely in my top 3 favorite desserts.  But I have always made my crust with all butter.  I can't do shortening.  I can't.  Except I did here.  I was curious.  The universal opinion on pie crusts is that half butter/half shortening gives the best flakey texture with all the buttery flavor.  I had to try it.  It is true.  The shortening contributes a much better texture than an all butter crust.

To make a six inch pie, you will need to halve the recipe for a regular 8 or 9 inch pie crust.  For the filling, you will need 2/3 times a regular pie filling.  For my pie, I used Cook's Illustrated pie crust (half of a recipe similar to this, but the one they published in the most recent mag is a little different...).  And Smitten Kitchen's peach pie filling (2/3rds this recipe).  Cook's Illustrated filling was too high maintenance and Smitten's crust was all butter.  Also, a lattice crust seems to be the crust of choice for peach pies, but I assembled this in the 10 minutes I had after I finished dinner, while Scot served up and set the table.  

Summer Pasta Puttanesca
from Cook’s Illustrated

tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
garlic cloves, minced
tablespoon anchovy paste
teaspoon red pepper flakes
teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 
pounds grape or cherry tomatoes
pound campanelle
cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped coarse
tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced
cup minced fresh parsley

Combine oil, garlic, anchovy paste, pepper flakes, and oregano in bowl. Process tomatoes in blender until finely chopped but not pureed, 15 to 45 seconds. Transfer to fine-mesh strainer set in large bowl and let drain for 5 minutes, occasionally pressing gently on solids with rubber spatula to extract liquid (this should yield about 3/4 cup). Reserve tomato liquid in bowl and tomato pulp in strainer.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add campanelle and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain campanelle and return it to pot.

While campanelle is cooking, cook garlic-anchovy mixture in 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant but not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato liquid and simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato pulp, olives, and capers; cook until just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in parsley.

Pour sauce over campanelle and toss to combine, adding reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

(Servings: 4, Prep time: 20 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy) 

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  4/5

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Camping Menu and Meal Ideas

We went camping last week.  We camped at Saranac Lake, NY.  It was peaceful, quiet, and all around relaxing.  Where we live is extremely loud but I never realize until we leave (which hasn't been often lately).  The campsites are accessed by boat only, so we motor boated all of our stuff to our site.  In the above photo, we are all taking a trip to see other parts of the lake.

I wanted to share our camping menu.  I am always looking for good camping recipes.  This trip, we had the luxury of a cooler and basically unlimited space since we didn't have to carry anything.  So here are some ideas for car camping, dump camping, or even boat camping!

I apologize in advance, I did not do a good job photographing the meals.  I don't have photos of everything, but I will provide a menu below with all the details.  Also, the meals are all vegetarian and gluten free.  Vegetarian camping meals are not easy to come by on the internet.  Looking for vegetarian camping recipes?  Look here!  Keyword search.

One dinner was what I called "Camping Nachos", picture above.  It was tortilla chips topped with a warm bean, corn, and red pepper mixture and melted cheese.  Then we added on salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and an avocado at the table.  Super good!  A take on the "walking taco".

Our breakfasts included:  breakfast tacos, blueberry and banana pancakes, and the last morning was going to be oatmeal but we had to leave early that morning to catch a flight, so we never made the oatmeals.  The pancakes were vegan and gluten free, which was convenient for camping since we didn't have to worry about things spoiling.

The last night we had a succotash over quinoa and tomato, cucumber salad.  Not that this horrible photo does much convincing, it was delicious.

One of the tasty lunch items we had was Texas Caviar with tortilla chips (Texas Caviar is pictures above in the plastic container).  My friend made it in advance it was a perfect, easy camping snack, lunch item.

Everything else is listed below with links to recipes when appropriate.  Also, most of the ingredients are in season right now, which made everything extra delicious!


Day 1
Dinner - Camping Nachos (recipe below)

Day 2
Breakfast - Breakfast Tacos - scrambled eggs wrapped in a tortilla topped with salsa, queso fresco, cilantro, and avocado.
Lunch - herbed goat cheese and crackers, fruit, and nuts.
Dinner - Potato Boats - pre-baked potatoes, mixed with veggies and cheese, and cooked in a foil packet on the fire.
              - Corn on the cob with compound butter (salted butter, cilantro, lime, garlic, chipotles in adobo)

Day 3
Breakfast - Blueberry and Banana Pancakes (added 1/4 cup of veg. oil to this recipe)
Lunch - Texas Caviar (prepared in advance) and Chips, leftover
Dinner - Succotash over Quinoa (recipe below) and Cucumber Tomato Salad

Day 4
Breakfast - oatmeal

For our full Camping Menu and instructions:  click here.

Camping Nachos
by foodforscot

1 medium onion, chopped
1 can of pinto beans
2 cans of black beans
2 T of pureed chipotles in adobo
2 ears of corn, shucked
2 red peppers
1 lb of Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 bunch of cilantro
1 container of salsa
3 avocados
1 small container of sour cream
salt and pepper

In a large pot or cast iron sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the onion in some olive oil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and chipotles in adobo. Cook until warmed through. Over the fire, using long tongs or some other device, char the corn and red peppers to get some smoky blackened flavor. Once charred, cut kernels off the cob and roughly chop the peppers. Add to the beans. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. (If you are lazy, skip the charring step.)

On a large cast iron skillet, lay out some chips. Top with bean mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Put on hot coals until cheese is melted. Repeat in batches until all bean mixture is used up.

Serve nachos on plates with fresh cilantro, salsa, half of an avocado, and sour cream.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 1 hr., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  7/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  3/5

Succotash Over Quinoa
by foodforscot

1 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small eggplant, chopped
1 lb frozen lima beans
4 ears of corn, shucked and de-kernelled
thyme, minced
¼ cup sour cream
parsley, minced
1 cup quinoa, cooked

In a large pot, sauté onion in a combination of 2 T butter and 1 T olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and eggplant, cook until softened. Add frozen lima beans and corn and cook until warmed through. Season with salt, pepper, a chopped thyme. Cook for 5 minutes. Add sour cream and parsley, cook for 5 minutes. Serve over quinoa.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 10 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Found my Week 9 CSA photo:

Week 9 : Golden plums, blueberries, blackberries, green beans (none are part of CSA), garlic, kale, escarole, tomatoes (!), salad greens, eggplant (Asian and Rosa Bianca), cucumber, sweet peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, hot peppers.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Warm Grilled Eggplant Salad

Week 10 - Herbs (basil, chives), peaches, white plums, assorted cherry tomatoes, yellow tomato,  (none of that is part of our CSA), 4 tomatoes!, red potatoes, salad greens, Rosa Bianca eggplant, Asian eggplant, green peppers, hot peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, dandelion greens, corn, Swiss chard.
I lost my week 9 photo.  But it was good stuff.  Similar to week 10.  We are there.  The peak of summer produce.  The pinnacle of all that is good.  We are FEASTING!!!

Can you believe this?  Four of these babies came with our CSA.  I bought the rest.  I did an ok job controlling myself.  We had another 5 or 6 from our garden that we ate this week.  Plus several handfuls of cherry tomatoes to supplement.  I thought I might save some of our tomatoes for winter in some form, but I am not at a point yet where I feel overwhelmed by tomatoes.  I feel happy about tomatoes.  I want more!  

This salad was so delicious.  It is very simple.  Some grilled veggies, tossed with some salad greens and a lemon, herb vinaigrette.  I wanted to pair it with something with a bright flavor, acidic flavor, but I also thought something cheesy would be good.  I made some stuffed tomatoes.  Mine where just stuffed with goat cheese, a little panko bread crumbs, parm, basil, and chives.  I cut a very small hole in the top of each tomato (and then ate the hole), then stuffed the cheese filling in.  I baked for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Might be better to just throw them on the grill to avoid the oven.  It has been cold and rainy here so it wasn't a big deal for us.  

We are equally obsessed with eggplant as we are with tomatoes.  Our eggplants in our garden are doing well.  We will probably have at least ten.  We have been getting three or so in our CSA each week.  So good.  These Rosa Bianca globe shaped eggplants are amazing.  Maybe I will make some Baba Ganoush to freeze for Birk once he is ready to explore non-milk calories.  I very much appreciate the milk-only diet.  Meal prep is pretty easy.  Wish we could ride out that phase a little longer.  

Warm Grilled Eggplant Salad
by foodforscot

1 eggplant (I used Rosa Bianca)
1 summer squash
1 green pepper
1 big bag of salad greens
quarter of a medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 handful of basil, rolled and thinly sliced
10 chives, minced
½ tsp of Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juice
1 tsp of red wine vinegar
olive oil

Slice the eggplant to make 1/4th of an inch thick rounds. Place in a colander (or lay out on a kitchen towel) and sprinkle generously with salt. Mix (or turn) to evenly coat the eggplant with the salt. Let sit for at least 30 minute (up to an hour or so) to release the water out of the eggplant.

Prepare the dressing: In a medium bowl, combine basil, chives, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly add in olive oil. Add more salt, pepper, and oil, to taste. Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium high.

Slice the summer squash and quarter (and core and seed) the green pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Once eggplant is done, pat dry with a kitchen towel. Season with pepper. Drizzle olive oil over everything.

Right before grilling, turn off the flame, brush the grill with olive oil. Turn the flame back on. Grill eggplant, squash, and green peppers until soft with nice grill marks. Remove from grill and chop into bite sized pieces.

In a large bowl, toss together salad greens, red onions, grilled veggies, and lemon/herb dressing. Salad is best served warm and immediately.

(Servings: 3, Prep time: 30 min., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  8/10
Scot (taste):  8/10
Effort:  2/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eggplant and Tomato Grilled Pizza

One of my favorite preparations of the most popular summer veggies (including:  cucumbers, zucchini, and eggplant) is to remove some of the moisture by salting them.  Salt seems to be a fear for many people.  It is one of the many unfortunate consequences of our wacky food system.  Salt is not only essential to give pretty much any ingredient flavor, but it is an amazing tool.

First, salt is fine.  Since many people are used to processed foods, convenience foods, and fast foods...salt has become this evil thing to avoid.  If you grew up eating packaged foods, you definitely didn't need to add salt to anything you were cooking.  When I would microwave my Hungry Man, I never pulled out the salt shaker to perfect the seasoning.  As a result, when cooking real food, I have talked to countless people who either skip the salt completely, or they feel very uncomfortable adding salt to their food.  Or they cringe watching me or someone else season a dish with salt.  The consequence of this fear of salt?  People think they hate "fill in the blank" ingredient.  Common culprits:  mushrooms, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, beans, beets, squash, eggplant, and probably most veggies.

Now, there are lots of reasons people might not like a certain ingredient.  Most likely it is because the time they tried it, it was cooked poorly.  And it is very likely it wasn't seasoned properly.  Other options:  it wasn't in season, wasn't ripe, was mass produced and had no flavor, etc.  There is a small chance your palette isn't ready for that flavor yet.  Like why we don't feed babies bitter dark greens as their very first solid food.  It is hard to know exactly the reason why you might not like a particular ingredient, which is why you should always give ingredients a second chance (what I mean by that is..a 20th chance).

With the majority of veggies, whole grains, know all the healthy need to season them.  With some salt. If I were to answer the question, is salt good for me?  My answer would be "yes!"  Aside from all the fancy nutritional explanations of why we need salt...sodium blah blah, electrolytes ya ok.  My reasoning is: it makes healthy food taste good.  Take a bitter vegetable of your choice:  kale, swiss chard, broccoli, brussels sprouts, whatever.  Roast it with and without salt.  Which one are you most likely going to go through the trouble of preparing and eating again?  The salted one!  More info on salt here.  The CDC, FDA, WHO all have articles on SODIUM.  Don't read those.  They assume you eat Hohos and McDonalds everyday.

Sorry.  I have watched two documentaries in the past two days on food.  One made me cry.  Like happy cry, but still.  Ok, I will tell you what made me cry:  "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead".  Phil stole my heart.

Back to this pizza.  What a perfect summer meal.  I made Pioneer Women's Tomato and Eggplant Pizza a few years ago.  That was my first time putting eggplant on pizza.  This recipe is very similar, but adapted for the middle of the summer.  A few summers ago I also posted on how to grill pizza.

I have made this twice in the past two weeks.  It is my favorite thing right now.  The toppings pair really well with the grilled, charred-ness of the pizza.

Eggplant and Tomato Grilled Pizza
by foodforscot

1 Japanese eggplant
1 bunch of kale, washed, stemmed and roughly chopped
half a pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 whole wheat pizza dough (room temp, mine is from a Brooklyn pizza restaurant)
fresh mozzarella (1 ball), thinly sliced
parmesan cheese, grated
olive oil

Slice the eggplant to make 1/8th of an inch thick rounds. Place in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Mix to evenly coat the eggplant with the salt. Let sit for at least 30 minute (up to an hour or so) in the sink to release the water out of the eggplant.

In the meantime, prep the pizza toppings. In a skillet, sauté the kale in some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. You can do all of this on the grill or inside on the stove. Next, lay the eggplant out on a kitchen towel. Pat dry (a lot of the salt should come off too). In a hot pan with olive oil or on the grill, sauté/grill each piece of eggplant until golden brown on each side. Do not season. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same skillet over medium high heat, add some olive oil and sauté the halved cherry tomatoes until soften and slightly charred. Remove from pan and set aside.

Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Divide the dough in half. You will want to make two small pizzas, instead of one large one. It is much easier to deal with small pizzas when grilling. I like to roll the dough out on parchment paper. Once the dough is rolled out, I pre cook it on the grill before topping it. Place the dough on the grill with the parchment paper still attached to the top. Then, peel the parchment paper off. Cook for a few minutes until dough is not raw. Flip and cook the other side a few minutes. Remove from the grill, place on a plate or cutting board. Turn heat down to medium low.

Top the pizzas (everything is divided evenly among the two pizzas). First, layer on the sliced mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with minced garlic. Top with kale, eggplant, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with grated parmesan. Place back on the grill and cook for 5-10 more minutes until cheese is melty and crust is crispy. Watch the bottom of the crust, you don’t want to burn it!!!

(Servings: 3-4, Prep time: 1 hr., Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Intermediate)

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  10/10
Scot (taste):  9/10
Effort:  3/5
Dishwashing Effort:  2/5

Friday, July 26, 2013

CSA Meals - Part 2

Week 5 - chives, pickling cucumbers, greenhouse tomatoes (all not part of CSA), red lettuce, escarole, curly kale, swiss chard, cabbage, radishes, hukuri salad turps, garlic scapes, zucchini, cauliflower.  
Week 6 - garlic, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, pickling cucumbers (not part of CSA), red lettuce, stir fry mix, fennel, broccoli, broccoli rabe, kale, chives (not part of CSA)
Week 7 - pickling cucumbers (not part of CSA), stir fry mix, kale, japanese eggplant, italian flat beans, bok choy, scallions, zucchini, globe zucchini, cucumbers, yellow summer squash, collards, cabbage, cherries and tomatoes (neither part of CSA)

Week 8 - 10 lbs of peaches, blueberries, apricots, field tomatoes, hot pepper (all not part of CSA), cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, yellow summer squash, green beans, cabbage, red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, collards. 
Another edition of CSA meal ideas.  We have been enjoying our veggies so so much.  I thought I would share how we have been eating them up.  We get GOOD stuff in our CSA and when I go to the market to pick it up, I always end up buying even more.  They don't grow any tree/bush fruit at the farm.  But they bring in fruits from nearby farms (starting now-ish).  This is dangerous.  So are the quarts of heavy cream from a local dairy farm.  But especially lately, I have been adding more veggies that didn't make the CSA that week.  

We are currently in what is known as...the best produce season ever.  I have been refraining from talking about my one true love: the summer tomato.  I planted 10 tomato plants in our tiny plot of land (in addition to carrots, kale, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, cucumbers, red peppers, habanero peppers, eggplant, pickling cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, etc.)  We have like 1 mm^2 of yard space.  So, not everything is happy.  Not to mention, Copper has been very busy killing THREE groundhogs, who have been nibbling where they shouldn't be nibbling.  The first groundhog death was sad for me.  But once I saw a bite out of a cuke...I let nature take it's course...

Anyway, although some of the garden hasn't survived our non-ideal growing conditions (and of course, we can definitely blame our novice gardening skillz), the cream of the crop is our tomatoes.  I care for them nearly equivalently to how I care for Birk.  I check them every day.  I have been tying those babies up.  I have been NOT watering them because it rains too much.  I have been petting them.  I cannnnnnnnot wait for the bumper crop (just learned that phrase).  We are currently enjoying the cherry tomatoes, but in a matter of days, or maybe one week, we will be in the swing of it.  

Alright, that is enough.  Here are some of the ways we have been enjoying the local produce.  Hope it gives you some inspiration for your meals.  

Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese Salad - lettuce, beet greens, pecans, radishes, and roasted beets in a balsamic vinaigrette.

Bok Choy and Garlic Scape Pad Thai - your typical pad thai, but add the veggies.  I added bok choy and another dark green. Instead of scallions, I used garlic scapes.  Some tofu, as usual for pad thai.  I used this recipe, roughly.

Kale, Black Bean, and Corn Taquitos with Guacamole - sautéed kale, black beans, and corn mixed with cilantro and goat cheese, wrapped up in a corn tortilla.  Baked at 400 until crispy.  Served with guac.

Buffalo Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Sauce - Roast some cauliflower and toss with wing sauce.  For the dipping sauce, I mixed full fat greek yogurt with a crumbled blue cheese.  My favorite variety of blue cheese is the soft, creamy kind.  I try to find either a goat's milk blue cheese or a mild brie hybrid.  Jk, I just wanted to sound like an a-hole.  No, actually I am serious, that is the kind of blue cheese that I like.

Pesto and Summer Veggie Cheese Raviolis Salad - Based off of this recipe.  I tossed good quality (you know, not the bad quality kind) little mini cheese ravioli with grape tomatoes, cooked greens, sautéed zucchini, and pesto.  Great hot or room temp.

A Simple Slaw - Cabbage is not the most exciting vegetable out there.  But it is good.  You have to have slaw at least once a summer.  I don't like creamy slaws or creamy salads.  This was just thinly sliced cabbage, salad turnips, cucumber, green onions tossed in some apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I added some raw escarole.  Don't do that.

Cauliflower, Black Bean, and Avocado Waffle - We made some whole grain waffles.  Scot's special, secret recipe (yeah, I just don't know what it is).  Then we topped them with roasted cauliflower, black beans cooked in chipotles in adobo, shredded mont. jack, avocado and a fried egg.  This only uses cauliflower so WHATEVER.

Apple, Chickpea, Almond Salad - yum.  This was some lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrots, chickpeas, diced apple, and chopped almonds tossed in a sweet honey and mustard vinaigrette.

Zucchini, Leek, Broccoli Rabe Fritters with a Cucumber Tzatziki Sauce - Take that! If you haven't made fritters it.  Shred the veggies (or finally chop), add some flour, egg, salt and pepper until fritter like consistency.  Fry up in some olive oil.  These fritters had zucchini, leeks, and broccoli rabe (any dark green would be fine).  Tzatziki is a cucumber yogurt suace.  You dice up the cucumber, salt it (liberally) and let is release some of its liquid in a colander for 30  min. - a few hours.  Dry the cucumbers in a kitchen towel (it removes some of the salt too).  Toss with green yogurt and season with pepper.  I added the fennel tops to the sauce too.  I congratulated myself on this dish.    

Tempeh and Veggie Stir-fry - If you don't know what to do with a veggie...stir fry ti up!  This was broccoli, red onion, carrots, stiry fry greens (probably like bok choy type things), and tempeh over brown rice.  The sauce was some weird thing I threw together:  mango habanero jelly, fish sauce, sriracha, ... probably more things.  It was good!  Sweet and spicy.

Fried Zucchini Sandwiches with Cucumber, Tomato Salad -  We got these beautiful globe zucchinis.  I breaded and fried them for a sandwich.  Also topped with lettuce, sliced tomato, thinly sliced red onion and a honey, mustard sauce (dijon, honey, sour cream).  When I lived at home, I ate cucumber, tomato salads daily when my dad's garden was taking off.  It is simply sliced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion tossed in red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper.  It is what summer is all about.

Kimchi - The best use of cabbage?  Kimchi.  If you aren't familiar it is a Korean condiment similar to sauerkraut...but Korean.  It is spicy and sour and lasts forever in the fridge.  You are supposed to eat fermented things if you want to be healthy.  So think about that.  My little sister helped me make a gigantic batch of kimchi.  I used this recipe.  I am going to make sauerkraut next using this recipe.  Don't think you like these types of condiments?  Try making them.  They are totally different than the store bought stuff.  A friend back in Boulder gifted me some of her homemade sauerkraut, which I used up instantly (like for this pizza).  So good.

Salad with Grilled Halloumi Cheese - salad is diced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, blanched green beans, lettuce, green onions, with a honey mustard vinaigrette.