Roasted Eggplant, Cherry Tomato, and Garlic Pizza with Olives and Savory

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I feel the same way every year, but this is really just the best time to eat. Perfect tomatoes, beautiful eggplant, vibrant lettuce and greens, sweet corn, tender berries, juicy melon, tart stone fruit and so many other bountiful vegetables are at their peak. My kitchen has been a very happy place this week as I try to cook as much as possible.

As it is apparent from this recipe, eggplant and tomatoes are my absolute favorites. I have a big list of recipes that I have to make for it to truly feel like summer, and eggplant pizza is always on there. I’ve made many iterations (two great versions are in that link), but I especially love this one with the sauce replaced with juicy, tangy, and sweet cherry tomatoes plus the briny contrast of olives.

My Potter Hill share this week was eggplant, beets, savory, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, and coriander. I used one of the eggplant and some onions in a noodle dish with coconut broth from Dinner (my perennial favorite). There was no cilantro left at the grocery store when I went shopping, so I just subbed the coriander from the share in (it was going into a spice paste) and it worked great. I made lamb meatballs with the last onion and paired them with a yogurt dill sauce and a cucumber and tomato salad (from, you guessed it, Dinner). If you’ve craving cooler weather you could use the beets and any leftover carrots from last week in roasted root vegetable bowls. Lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers could all go into this Greek-inspired salad I made last summer.

Roasted Eggplant, Cherry Tomato, and Garlic Pizza with Olives and Savory

This is my go-to pizza dough recipe, and I usually sub half of the white flour for wheat. It is a very wet pizza dough which I spread it on a Silpat on a baking sheet and cook it on the lowest oven rack. If this is your first time making pizza dough, I suggest this recipe for a slightly easier to work with dough. I often use pizza making as a chance to use up any random cheese I have in the fridge, so feel free to try others than I listed here.

Serves 4

  • 1 pizza dough, storebought or homemade (see note)
  • 10 ounces eggplant (1 small), chopped
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic (do not remove the paper)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces kalamata olives, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons minced savory
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400F. Place the cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake for another 10 until the eggplant is soft and the cherry tomatoes have shriveled a bit. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Turn the oven up as high as it will go (mine goes to 550F).

While the tomatoes, etc. are roasting spread your dough on a baking sheet (I like to use a Silpat, or you could use parchment paper).

Peel the garlic cloves and chop. Build your pizza starting with the roasted cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and garlic, then the olives and savory, topped with the mozzarella and goat cheese.

Place your pizza in the oven on the bottom rack and cook for 10 minutes. The top should have nicely charred bits and the bottom should be crisp. Remove from the pan and place on a cutting board. (If you are using a Silpat you will need to peel it off before cutting. I just tuck one end under and pull it to the other side. It helps to have someone else hold the pizza put.) Cut and serve with red pepper flakes.

Athena Bowls

IMG_6979 (3)When I came home with my CSA share I laid the mountain of vegetables out on my kitchen table and started pulling out cookbooks. I was paralyzed with dinner indecision, but after much perusing I saw a recipe in Plenty  for “mixed grill” with parsley oil, that was essentially grilled eggplant and zucchini with a parsley sauce. I loved the idea but knew that I didn’t have quite enough vegetables for dinner and lunch leftovers. That recipe reminded me of my favorite root vegetable bowls with parsley sauce, which combine starchy vegetables and chickpeas to make a bright meal. Plus there was feta in those bowls, which paired with eggplant screams “Greek!”

This all led to the happy invention of what could be called Greek burrito bowls, but that sounded weird, and since there was no exact Greek dish I was turning into a bowl, it needed a whole new name. And thus we have Athena Bowls! Greek inspired, summery, filling, and vegetarian (easily vegan). Perfect for August, when the humidity breaks enough that turning on the oven is a thinkable act.

My full Potter Hill share this week was eggplant, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, shishitos, broccoli leaves, fresh onions, cucumbers, lettuce, thai basil and scallions. I’ve been eating the tomatoes and cucumbers in the morning over yogurt with Alison Roman’s savory granola from Dining In and it is heaven. The scallions went into a slaw for fish tacos, and the lettuce is went into BLTs tonight (first of the summer!!) with some charred shishitos and aioli alongside. If you need basil ideas I posted a bunch last week.

Athena Bowls

Inspired by The Mediterrenean Dish

Roasted Vegetables

  • ¾ lb eggplant, chopped into 3/4″ pieces
  • ½ lb cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz onion (1 small onion), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Lemon Rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 oz onion (1 small onion), diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups of water, plus water for soaking
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Parsley Sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup parsley leaves and soft stems
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For serving

  • 6 ounces full fat feta, crumbled
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (from one 15.5 ounce can, rinsed and drained)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and onion on a baking sheet with the olive oil and salt. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss. Roast for another 15-20 minutes, until the eggplant is completely soft with some charred bits.

While the oven is preheating cover the rice in water and let soak for at least 15 minutes, then drain. In a small saucepan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes (the onion should star to become translucent). Add in the rice and stir to coat. Add the 1 1/2 cups of water, cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and let sit for 10.

Turn on a food processor with an S blade and drop in the garlic cloves. Let them process until you can no longer hear them bouncing around, then turn it off and scrape down the sides. Add the parsley and salt and process until minced. Turn on the food processor and stream in the olive oil and lemon juice until it is a uniform sauce. Alternatively, mince the garlic and parsley, then stir in olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

To serve prepare bowls with rice, chickpeas, roasted vegetables, feta, and parsley sauce.

 

 

Done is better than perfect

20180808_190615Sunday night I was surrounded by cookbooks, making a list of all the dishes I HAVE to cook this month. It is peak harvest in New England, and every year at this time I constantly feel like I am missing opportunities to eat the best, freshest produce in the all ways I’ve been dreaming of since December. Everything I love ripens at once – raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, greens, and every herb you can imagine.

I’ve joked before about taking the month off just to cook and eat, but this year I took real action and took a day off from work later this month with no plans other than to cook. But I can’t take every day off (and also, I like my job), so I’ve also tried to be more realistic about what I can accomplish on a weeknight.

This is surely not a new revelation. But I am an obsessive cook who takes immense pride in making things from scratch. When I have people over for tacos, I make the tortillas. I went on a camping trip and fried Scotch eggs to bring with us. This is not meant to be boastful, but just to help you to understand the level of crazy I generally operate on. There are many nights when I’ve taken on more than I can chew, and I stare at the mess of an unfinished cooking project around me at 10pm and wonder “HOW DID I GET HERE?”

So when I see a recipe with three sub-recipes like these pambazos, I see myself making enchilada sauce, refried beans, and pickled onions, and THEN frying eggplant to make the sandwiches. I do have some idea of my capacity for cooking projects on a weeknight, so I think I will have to wait for a Sunday. But then there are only four measly Sundays in August, and way more than four elaborate meals I want to cook. Which means that this will get pushed on to my list for next year, when the same thing will happen again, and then five years from now I will finally make this sandwich and wonder “How did it take me so long to do this????????”

But no. Instead, I looked at this recipe, and added refried beans and enchilada sauce to the shopping list. I pickled the onions last night while I was waiting for Will to get home from the grocery store with ingredients I needed to finish yesterday’s dinner. I relaxed after work by sitting in the AC, writing, and drinking a Miller High Life. Then I meandered into the kitchen around 6:00pm, fried up the eggplant, snacked on a few pieces as I made them, and put together these beast sandwiches that hold everything I love between two slices of bread and then are coated with enchilada sauce. Would this sandwich have been better if I had made the refried beans and enchilada sauce myself? Maybe. But as they say, a sandwich in the hand is worth two in the bush. Or something like that.

Roasted Summer Vegetables

20180802_122021Admittedly I had another plan for a recipe to share this week, but it ended up being only ok, and I am not in the business of peddling mediocre recipes. This is what I made on Monday night when I came home with my CSA (I get mine early for recipe writing). I had no plan for dinner, but knew it needed to involve a lot of vegetables. I took stock of leftovers from the weekend, which included some naan, tzatziki, hummus, and olives. I still had a zucchini and summer squash from last week’s CSA, plus this week’s eggplant, tomatoes, onions and savory. I chopped everything up, tossed it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and threw it in the oven. The result is the cruel truth that so many summer vegetables are really better roasted, when you would rather change a tire on the side of the highway in the pouring rain than turn on the oven.

But summer vegetables like this are so, so good. The tomato adds a bit of acidity, and provide enough moisture to make a bit of a sauce. Eggplant, when properly and thoroughly cooked, becomes meaty and velvety. The onion becomes a bit caramelized, and summer squash adds a freshness you only get at this point in the year. If you don’t have savory, you could try another hearty herb like rosemary or thyme, or finish the dish after cooking with a soft herb like basil or parsley.

The rest of my share this week was cucumbers, perpetual spinach, kale, basil, new potatoes, lettuce, and pea tendrils. I used the perpetual spinach, kale, and cucumbers in some easy noodles with peanut sauce from the freezer (I cooked the greens, but left the cucumber raw). The potatoes and onions are going into a Thai yellow curry from Simple Thai Food tomorrow night. I also get an egg share, and for tighter mornings, I hard-boil eggs and eat them with everything.

Roasted Summer Vegetables

Serves 6

I’m outlining my basic method, but you could easily mix up the vegetables you include here. For six servings, I fill two baking sheets with 1/2-1″ between pieces for thorough browning. The photo shows naan with a layer of hummus topped with the roasted vegetables.

  • 3 small eggplant
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 medium onions (I used fresh onions)
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped savory
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F. Chop all of the vegetables into 1″ pieces. Toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped savory. Spread across 2 baking sheets, with about 1″ of space between the pieces. They should be able to roast and brown, not just steam. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven, toss the vegetables, and return them to the oven on opposite shelves. Roast for another 10-15 minutes. In my oven the pan that starts on the bottom is always done first, while the other pan usually requires an extra 5 minutes to achieve the same level of browning.

Serve with hummus and pita or naan, in a sandwich, on pizza/pasta/polenta, or all by its glorious self.

 

 

Eating in August

20160726_174607The best month of the year for eating is finally here. It feels like I’ve waited much more than 10 months for tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers from the garden and nearby farms. Here are a few recipes I hold off on making all year, because they are truly their best right now.

Tomato salad. There are hundreds of ways you can go about this. The classic version my mom always made was just chopped tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Dress and toss the salad a few minutes before eating, so the tomatoes can release some juices and create a dressing with the olive oil. You can of course add cucumbers, red onion, peppers, mozzarella, feta, balsamic….I could eat a version of this salad every day of tomato season.

BLTs. There is a reason people make this sandwich again and again. It is the perfect intersection of salty fat, mild acid, and crispness. And with so few ingredients, freshness and quality are everything. Now is the time!!

Sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake. I’ve raved about this before…and will continue to do so forever more. So simple, SO GOOD.

Eggplant parmesan pizza with crispy capers. While this can’t quite top a traditional eggplant parm, it gets damn close. The crispy capers are a brilliant addition of crunchy saltiness.

Roasted eggplant and za’atar pizza. If eggplant parm isn’t your thing, then give this pizza a shot. The creamy tahini base does wonders for herby eggplant and cheese.

Roasted corn, zucchini, and black bean enchiladas. This dish is a bit more involved, but makes a ton of food that you can easily reheat with a salad, freeze, or share. It is a main and vegetable in one and can easily stand on its own if you are too tired to make other things.

The tomato crostata, tomato jam, and tomato curry from The Yellow House’s most excellent tomato diary (which comes along with some wonderfully provoking thoughts on the local food movement).

If you haven’t eaten pasta with fresh pesto before the end of summer, then I will go so far as to say you haven’t really had a summer. if you have a food processor, then dig it out, otherwise a knife and a little time will do you just fine.

Baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella. A delightful one dish meal.

Fish fragrant eggplant. After I read Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper last year, I dreamt of this dish for months. It is delightfully spicy and sour, plus makes excellent use of eggplant’s sauce absorbing powers.

Peach and tomato salad. Not the tomato salad I grew up eating, but one I’ve very happily added to the rotation.

It is National Farmer’s Market Week, a time of wonderful abundance, the perfect time to support farmers, and eat the most delectable vegetables.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersLast Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Spaghetti-stuffed roasted peppers. This was the least favorite meal of the week, but it was a good thing to work up from. There were a bunch of peppers to be used and all the other ingredients were on hand so it happened. I made a few modifications….I cooked the peppers as in this recipe because it was way easier, and used orzo because I had half a box in the cabinet and small pasta was going to be far easier to fit into my little peppers. I also topped them with a bit of mozzarella and parmesan because then needed a bit more something. Not the worst thing I’ve ever made (though I need to think on what that might have been), but not a stand out.

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Chorizo tomato salad. My favorite sausage maker started selling a chorizo-style sausage so I had to buy some and make this salad again before the end of tomato season. This time served with whipped feta on the toast instead of goat cheese. It doesn’t translate as well to leftovers, but still an awesome whole-meal salad.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Thai-style cabbage slaw. Did you know Laura of The First Mess is writing a cookbook?! It doesn’t come out until 2017 but I’m so excited. When Laura put out a call for recipe testers I actually ran to a computer to email her and was lucky enough to get a handful of recipes to provide feedback on. This is one of them, and it was crunchy, bright, and herbaceous with elements of sweet and sour.

Sticky teriyaki eggplant with herbed coconut cashew rice. While I can’t give out the slaw recipe, this is one Laura already published that is delightful. Along with the slaw it made a great vegetable-packed meal. I don’t have a grill so I broiled the eggplant for 8 minutes on high, flipping halfway through. My one change would be to make more sauce (probably double it) so there is some leftover for drizzling over the cooked eggplant and rice.

Thai slaw and eggplant summer rolls (pictures at top). I was heading out of town for an extra long weekend (which is why my normal Sunday post is on a Tuesday), so no real dinner was planned for Thursday night. I had a serving left of the Thai slaw, plus some more cabbage and a few pieces of the teriyaki eggplant. Summer roll wrappers were tucked away in the cabinet, and peanut sauce was in the freezer (I’ll post that recipe someday, I promise). I added more shredded cabbage to the slaw to stretch it a bit (and the filling would have been too wet otherwise), chopped up the eggplant, and made my rolls with some of the extra basil from the weeks recipes. It morphed scant servings into a way more fun meal.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Whipped feta is the cheese obsession du jour around here. This slightly messy but delicious breakfast that has been making regular appearances. A piece of toast slathered with whipped feta, topped with fried tomatoes and a fried egg.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersDan dan noodles (from Every Grain of Rice). A trip to an awesome Sichuanese restaurant renewed my desire for all things Sichuan (which started after I read Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper). The dish was not entirely authentic as I haven’t been able to get my hands on the pickled vegetables called for, and I used tahini instead of Chinese sesame paste…but it still made for some awesome noodles. There are two recipes in the book for dan dan noodles, one with beef and one with pork. I mostly followed the beef recipe but used pork. Weirdly neither of the recipes in Every Grain of Rice call for greens, but the photo has greens in the bowl and I’ve been served dan dan noodles with greens, so I stir fried some tat soi and added it in with the noodles and sauce.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Burnt eggplant and Israeli couscous soup. Tomato eggplant soup is perfect for the changing of the seasons when summer produce is still coming in but the air is nippy. I loved the couscous and bits of eggplant in this soup, but it was a process with lots of parts. A great alternative is this Smitten Kitchen Roasted Eggplant Soup, which is really as easy as putting all the ingredients on a baking sheet, roasting, then blending with stock. I don’t think the goat cheese topping is necessary (and I just about never turn down goat cheese), but I like the consistent soup texture. It is really ugly soup, but very lovable.

Roasted broccoli with romanesco. The broccoli from the farm up the hill from me is more broccolini-like, so I couldn’t make steaks like these but desperately wanted to make this sauce. I cheated and used a pre-roasted red pepper and a chili instead of the Asian long red chili and it still made for a spicy, savory sauce that I slathered all over the broccoli and enjoyed with gusto.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Roasted chicken thighs with green peaches and summer herbs. I would have never guessed peaches, chicken, herbs and ginger would pair together so magically. I don’t make enough things that are as easy as tossing everything together and sticking the pan in the oven. Couscous seemed like a fittingly easy side to serve under the chicken. I used a little bit more than a pound of chicken thighs, but still used 2 peaches (and would have liked even more if there was room).

Summer squash pasta with green goddess dressing. I was so excited to squeeze this dish in with what could very well be my last fresh zucchini of the season. I was also excited to actually have some anchovies in the fridge to add to the dressing, which I  haven’t had the past times I’ve made it (and opening a can for one anchovy seems silly). I halved the recipe though, and didn’t think it would really matter that much to put a whole anchovy in….whoops. It was a little fishy. Next time I’ll just use the capers.

BBQ bean burritos with peach salsa. Can you tell I bought a big box of peaches this week? I like the spicy sweet balance of these burritos which are a little more fun than my usual beans and vegetables. This time I upped the chipotle and left out the sugar and molasses to make for spicy smokey beans without the sweetness.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Peach cornmeal upside-down cake. As mentioned, this cake came out of the pan like a dream. Next time I will really squish the peaches in so every cake bite gets some. I added in a little dried lavender since I had it, but I couldn’t taste it and don’t think it’s necessary. This is really best within the first couple days, so plan to share.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal MattersBarbecued chicken. I had a craving for traditional, sticky, barbecue chicken. I used a whole chicken that I broke down for grilling. The sauce was nicely sticky but not overly sweet and the chicken was nice and tender. Everything I wanted.

Cabbage salad with apples and ginger dressing. I made a bare bones version of this with just the cabbage and apples, but I do like adding in dried cranberries when I have them. Some version of this will be making many more appearances through apple season.

Last Week I Cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Spicy polenta breakfast bowl. Why do I always forget about polenta? I go months without eating it and then become obsessed for a little bit before letting it get pushed into the back of the cabinet again. I didn’t make the sweet potatoes and used salsa I made and thought about how I should make polenta for breakfast more often.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersNow Will no longer asks what is for dinner, but instead asks what version of eggplant and tomatoes we are going to eat. The season for my favorite vegetables is almost over, but the list of recipes to try them in is never ending.

Spicy fried chicken sandwich. Last weekend was full of vegetables, and I started the week with a craving for fried chicken. I only brined the chicken for about an hour after work, and it was still plenty flavorful. The lettuce was replaced with cabbage, and I used a lot less oil to fry them. I had no trouble with sticking, but they did take longer to be fully cooked through.

Peach and tomato salad. I wanted this to be a sweet counterpoint to the spicy chicken sandwiches so I left out the chili flakes. Under any other circumstances keep them in though, because the bit of spice in this salad may be my favorite part.

Eggplant parmesan pizza with crispy capers (pictured above). There is no question that this was the best thing I made this week. I did the 9 hour version of the dough and left it on the counter for the day. I returned from work almost two hours later than normal cursing myself for planning pizza, but it came together quickly and was worth every step. Admittedly I didn’t make my own tomato sauce so that sped up the process. Eggplant pizza on its own may not seem that exciting, but the crisp capers add a briney saltiness and the garlic oil at the end takes it over the top.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersSummer tomato lentils. As a huge surprise to everyone I added some eggplant to this dish. I roasted chopped regular sized tomatoes and eggplant with some za’atar and added them to the cooked lentils and dressing. All was served over some kale tossed in the same dressing and left to sit for a bit.

Pasta with eggplant and tomato. Inviting over dinner guests without an actual dinner plan and not going grocery shopping made for an excellent opportunity to try a simple recipe that had been on my list all summer. It’s hard to go wrong with fried eggplant, fresh tomato sauce and basil. I used parmigiano reggiano instead of the salted ricotta and was very happy.

Tuscan kale. I want to make this recipe exactly as written, but this time around just used it as inspiration. I sauteed half an onion, then added a lot of kale to the pan with 3 cloves of minced garlic, and covered the pan. After a few minutes I stirred everything up and replaced the cover, then salted before serving.

Last Week I Cooked…

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersRoasted eggplant and summer squash salad with tangy miso dressing. I think I would eat a rock if it was coated with miso dressing. I would not have thought to put such a dressing on these vegetables, and I liked this for steering me otherwise, but this Smitten Kitchen miso dressing is still my favorite (I think it was the scallions in this one that made for a rough texture I didn’t like as much). I didn’t have any quinoa, so I made this with barley but I think most any grain would work.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Deborah Madison’s ribboned cucumber salad with chile & roasted peanuts. I think next time I would salt the cucumbers to draw some moisture out so the dressing wouldn’t be as watered down (maybe my cucumbers were especially watery), but I love cucumbers thinly sliced with a zingy dressing.

Roasted corn and zucchini enchiladas. A summer favorite, that is less work than you think.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Fuchsia Dunlop’s fish fragrant eggplant from Every Grain of Rice. I love eggplant too much to provide an objective view of this recipe. If you love eggplant too, it is your duty to make this before the end of eggplant season. It does contain some obscure ingredients, but once you have them they become indispensable.

Along with the fish fragrant eggplant we had some tatsoi simply sautéed with ginger and garlic, brown rice, and a cucumber salad dressed with a 1:1 mix of garlic chili sauce and soy sauce.

Crispy peach cobbler. Dessert?! You betcha. I threw about a cup of raspberries in with the peaches (because I stopped at the farm stand to buy corn and they had PYO fall raspberries and I couldn’t resist) and DAMN this was good. I halved the recipe to make a single 9″ x 9″ pan and it was perfect for 4. I also used the reduced sugar Deb suggested, so 150g total. It also was a good reminder that I should always make crisps/cobblers instead of pies, because they take a tiny fraction of the effort and I like the output so much better.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersMediterranean potato salad. Mustardy shallot dressing, potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Comes together quickly, travels well, and an excellent summer version of potato salad. My only change would be to add more hard-boiled eggs next time, or perhaps chop them smaller so they are more evenly distributed.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersSweet cherry tomato and sausage bake. This is how cherry tomatoes were destined to be cooked. It is their highest calling. I’m always amazed by the ease of preparation with this recipe and the incredible output. The tomato/sausage ratio as written is off to me, I used almost the amount of cherry tomatoes called for, and only 4 sausages for 2 people (but I also REALLY LIKE these tomatoes). Serve with the best loaf of crusty bread you can find. If you’re not into sausages leave them out, the tomatoes are the star. If you are into sausages, I’ve use this baking method regularly because it makes for uniformly cooked sausages with no monitoring. Cherry tomato days are numbered, act quickly.

Gazpacho. While the cherry tomatoes and sausages baked I blended up a batch of gazpacho. It comes together in minutes if you have a food processor, but does benefit from a resting period for the flavors to develop.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Breakfasts this week were various combinations of kale, eggs, tomatoes, and toast. Sometimes scrambled with goat cheese.

Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters I spent minimal time out in the world today, and still saw Oktoberfest beer and Halloween decorations for sale. COOL YOUR JETS retail, it is still August, which means we aren’t done with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, humidity, weddings, dining outside, or beach days yet.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Eggplant Pasta. I admittedly set myself up for disaster with this one. I didn’t peel the eggplant so those pieces were more bitter, and I didn’t use a mandolin to slice it. The strips need to be incredibly thin for this dish to work with such a short cooking time. I cooked it for way longer than 10 seconds, but they still weren’t pasta texture. So know, this dish needs some skill and equipment to execute properly (and even then, I’m still skeptical of the short cooking time). I’m curious what this is like when executed properly, but next time I’ll just make Alton’s eggplant parm, which is one of my favorite foods.

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad (pictured above). Paired with the eggplant noodles, and as much as the eggplant didn’t work, this dish did and it was entirely unplanned. I’ve been slowly reading through The Art of Simple Food to soak up its wisdom, and turned to the salad chapter for inspiration. I wouldn’t have put green beans and cherry tomatoes together, but as usual Alice was right. Easy red wine vinegar and shallot vinaigrette, and enough of a departure from my usual tomato salad. This one will forever be in my late summer rotation.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Chard and feta quesadillas. A dinner disappointment is necessarily followed by a sure success. I cooked down a lot of chard (probably 8 large leaves, stems removed and chopped), and then cooled it a bit and squeezed out excess liquid. Flour tortillas filled with mild cheddar, feta, and the chard made for a fail-safe delicious meal paired with a tomato and cucumber salad.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Skillet greens & beans with anchovy breadcrumbs. I would have eaten the entire pot of this if possible. This is a dish that is a flash to put together and everything I want in a meal. Filling beans, vegetal greens, and anchovy umami. I even burned the croutons for this (by bread wasn’t at crumb level) and it was still amazing. Last time I made it with dried beans that I cooked, which did hold their integrity much better, but I still liked that the canned beans I used this time broke down more to mix with the dressing. I used mature red Russian kale chopped, and cannellini beans, but will continue adapting it with what I have around for future versions. Even if you don’t think anchovies are your thing, give them a chance. They shine here.

This was a busy and earlier week at work, so my breakfasts were mostly fruit and granola eaten during morning meetings. But I made up for it this weekend with a perennial favorite (made with chard this go around), and then skillet potatoes with a goat cheese, zucchini, and cherry tomato omelette.

Besides a tiny batch of strawberry thyme honey jam, I haven’t done any canning this summer. But that all changed this week, because determined to make up for lost time I made tomato jam two nights in a row, followed by a double batch of dilly beans (I used the recipe from the book, which uses white vinegar, cayenne pepper and no peppercorns, but I may add those in next time). Still on my list: ketchup, roasted corn salsa, peach salsa and lots of tomatoes.

Last week I cooked…

20150726_195049Spicy fried chicken sandwich. We had this for dinner on Will’s actual birthday. It was the first fried chicken sandwich I’ve ever made, and I see no reason to ever seek out another recipe. The chicken was spicy, crispy and tender, and the yogurt sauce/slaw was just the right creamy, crunchy contrast. For me this was a perfect balance of spiciness, enough to feel it and warrant spicy in the name, but not so much that it kept you from actually tasting everything. I suppose if your spice tolerance is low you will want to find another recipe, but I’ll be sticking with this one.

Lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini. Redemption after a weekend of barbecue and fried chicken. I love the onion salad on top of the creamy legumes. Paired with the tomato salad below.

Tomato salad with pomegranate molasses (from Persiana). I added in some cucumbers and cherry peppers from my garden instead of the Turkish peppers, but loved this simple but new take on a tomato salad. The dressing is super potent, so used sparingly.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersOttolenghi’s black pepper tofu. This has been on my to cook list for too long. The addition of butter is inspired (but really didn’t we all love rice with butter as kids?). The amount of pepper seems ridiculous, but the butter mellows it nicely. I halved the recipe to use a single block of tofu (which usually come in 14 oz portions on the US).

Spicy roasted bok choy. Paired with black pepper tofu. I think my red pepper flakes are especially potent, because this was super spicy, which wasn’t exactly what I was looking for to go with the pepper tofu. I mostly was excited about the ease of preparation and the fact that I didn’t also need to cook this on the stove.

Peach and corn coleslaw. #Summer. This slaw is sweet and a little sour and just the perfect summer salad. I used regular peaches, less cabbage, plus a cucumber.

Grilled eggplant and chickpea salad with pomegranate molasses. I guess pom molasses is the special ingredient of the week here. I made this for a picnic (to eat on Boston Common while seeing King Lear) and it was perfect. I roasted the eggplant since I don’t have a grill, along with green peppers and an onion,  For the picnic I also make a tomato and cucumber salad with balsamic vinegar and the zucchini cornbread again, and my friends brought couscous salad for the best summer salad compilation ever.

Blueberry pie with yogurt. If you ask me, the best way to enjoy leftover pie is for breakfast. Just take a couple big dollops of yogurt, and top with a small slice of pie and some fresh fruit if you have it. Really this is the same concept of those dessert yogurt cups, but 1,000x better.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Not something I cooked, but I went to Brattle Book Shop in Downtown Boston and the cookbook section was incredible. I’m embarrassed to be a born and raised Bay Stater/book store enthusiast and not have know about this place until this weekend. We walked away with Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, Clementine in the Kitchen, and Moose Mousse.

Last week I cooked…

This week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersGreek chopped salad. This is the salad I wait all winter to eat. Garden tomatoes, cucumbers, and oregano, with a pepper, olives, feta, chickpeas, and a simple dressing. Recipe forthcoming.

Herbed summer squash pasta bake (pictured above). I was debating between this and pasta with fried zucchini salad which I made last summer. The baked pasta was good, but was a bit too heavy for me. I’m glad I tried it, but the fried zucchini one is the one I’ll come back to every summer (just beware frying the zucchini takes a while, but it is worth every minute).

Grilled cumin-lime zucchini quesadillas. I liked that these called for fresh mozzarella (because I happened to have some), but I think it is too wet a cheese for ideal quesadilla making. But still, I liked the fun flavor combination to make vegetable quesadillas a little more interesting.

Kohlrabi salad. Kohlrabi is one of those vegetables that is so hot right now, and I’ve seen it in many a farmer’s market and blog but somehow it hadn’t made it to my table. Once again embracing farm stand impulse purchases I bought some last week without a cooking plan and was guided by Ottolenghi. My main problem was with some of the kohlrabi, which seemed to have been grown too long because they were super fibrous. The bits that were good are what I assume all kohlrabi is supposed to be like, nice and crunchy with a mouthfeel similar to celeriac, but tasting just like cabbage.  I threw a little cucumber in too, and loved the creamy dressing and crunchy veg topped with slightly sour sumac (plus the color contrast was excellent).

Fish-fragrant eggplant and Sichuanese chopped celery with beef. I’ve been waiting to make this eggplant recipe since I read Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper and I think I’ll probably make it once a week for the rest of eggplant season. It was incredible and brought out the absolute best qualities of eggplant – luscious texture and awesome flavor absorption. I even substituted water for the chicken stock as I was making this on the fly, and it was still everything I hoped for. And my undying love for eggplant shouldn’t overshadow the celery dish, which was crunchy, spicy, slightly sour and rounded out with just a little fat from the beef.

Bánh mì breakfast sandwiches. I made these while I was preparing for a special dinner party (more on that later). Simple ingredients, minimal effort, but such high return. The salty-fatty-spicy-sour-herbal flavor combo is just unbeatable.