Baked Eggplant

May 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

Eggplant is such a great vegetable to grow in your garden.  The plants are easy to grow (like a squash) and they give you eggplants all summer long.  It is best to plant eggplants in the shade and to water them in the morning, to prevent mold from growing on the leaves.  If you aren’t growing your own eggplants this summer, pick up some from your local farmers’ market.  Make sure you allow an extra hour to salt your eggplants, before cooking them.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggplants (about 4 lbs.), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
  • coarse salt
  • olive oil
  • 12 oz. spinach, chopped
  • 12 oz. package of Yves veggie ground round
  • 1 package whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1  1/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 32 0z. jar spaghetti sauce (or your own homemade sauce)
  • 1  8 oz. ball of fresh-water packed mozzarella, drained and sliced

Directions:

1.  Slice eggplants length wise.  Place the eggplant on a paper towel, in a single layer, and sprinkle generously with coarse salt.  Let sit for 1 hour.  After an hour, rinse off the salt, and dry thoroughly.

2.  Set oven to broil.   position oven rack 6 inches from the broiler.  Place the eggplant on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Brush both sides of the  eggplant with olive oil.  Broil the eggplant for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Repeat this process until all of the eggplant has been cooked.

3.  While the eggplant is cooling, sweat the chopped onions in a saute pan with about 1 tbsp. olive oil.  When onions are translucent, add the veggie ground round and cook until browned.  Let cool to room temperature.

4.  While onion mixture is cooling, mix ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, chopped spinach, and eggs in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the cooled veggie ground round and onion mixture.  Mix until combined.

5.  Spread part of the spaghetti sauce onto a 15x10x2 baking dish (you want to cover the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of sauce).

6.  Put a single layer of the broiled eggplant onto the sauce at the bottom of the pan.  Make sure the eggplant covers the whole pan.  Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the single layer of eggplants.  Repeat this step with two more layers of eggplant and the ricotta mixture.  After you are done you should have a layer of eggplant (on the bottom), ricotta, eggplant, ricotta, eggplant, and ricotta (on the top).

7.  Top the ricotta mixture with the rest of the spaghetti sauce.  Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

8.  Put foil over the baking dish and place it in the oven for 40 minutes.  Once heated all the way through, uncover the eggplant and bake until the mozzarella cheese is golden (about another 15- 20 minutes).  While the eggplant is baking, cook the whole wheat spaghetti according to the directions on its packaging.

Baba Ganoush

March 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

I love baba ganoush — it is the perfect topping on some crispy bread for a nice appetizer or as a light and flavorful dip for crisps.  It also makes a great dinner side.  NOTE: this dish tastes best immediately after preparation.

Ingredients:

–  2 medium sized eggplants

–  4-6 garlic cloves

–  4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

– salt

I like to use Trader Joe’s organic mayonnaise.  They also have a nice vegan mayonnaise, if you prefer.

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

STEP 2: Wrap each eggplant in a generously sized piece of foil.  Make sure the the ‘top’ part of the wrapped eggplant is the one where the edges meet so that the bottom has no openings for liquid to leak out.

STEP 3: Place the wrapped eggplants in the preheated oven. (I was so excited about the eggplants that the picture turned out blurry. :-))

STEP 4: Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes.  You will know the eggplants are done when they are soft and mushy when you press them with a fork.

STEP 5: When eggplants are done, take them out of oven and let them cool for a few minutes.  Once the eggplants are cool, peel off the skin using a paring knife.  (If the skin does not come off easily, this indicates the eggplants are not completely done yet.)

STEP 6: Once eggplants are peeled, cut them into 1″ pieces and put into bowl.

STEP 7: Add minced garlic, salt, and mayonnaise.  Mix together using a fork and mashing up the mixture as much as possible.  Mix into a nice mushy consistency.

STEP 8: Serve and enjoy!

WeHo Farmer’s Market Finds

March 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

I recently moved from Marina del Rey to West Hollywood, so I was a little nervous and excited to visit my new West Hollywood Sunday farmers market (located on Melrose Place & Croft).  Would the selection be as great as it was at the Main St. market in Santa Monica?  Would the veggies be as fresh?  The wait was making me very excited!

Alas, Sunday morning I walked on over to the market — it was small with far fewer vendors than the Main St. one, but the selection was great!  I could not be happier.  The fact that it was small only made it easier to get in and out very quickly without wading through the typical crowd in Santa Monica.

Here are my finds from this week’s market trip:

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