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.

 

 

CSA Cooking

20180815_185929We’re about six weeks into the Potter Hill CSA and I wanted to check in on my fellow CSA members (and members of other CSAs elsewhere!). How are you using up your bounty each week? We’ve just entered my favorite month: August 15-September 15. (Yes, I’ve defined my own month.) Summer produce is still coming in hot, fall produce starts creeping in, and the days cool off a bit. This week I received tomatoes, zucchini, celery, Swiss chard, bok choy, lemon basil, parsley, beets, and 2 heads of baby lettuce.

I slow roasted some tomatoes (2 hours at 275F) for this gorgonzola lentil salad, which also used some red onion leftover from last week and parsley from this week. Tomatoes and lettuce went into this barbecue chicken salad (pictured above), which I made with my standard bleu cheese dressing instead of the goat cheese ranch because I had extra gorgonzola from the lentil salad to use up. I’m going to use the lemon basil on top of urad dal instead of the cilantro. The fate of the zucchini is either zucchini carbonara or succotash (or maybe I’ll buy more and make both!!). Last time we got celery I made my favorite stir fry, and I’ll probably just make it again because I think it is celery’s highest calling (and it is so far superior with intensely vegetal farm celery than it is with watery supermarket celery). The beets are destined for a labneh dip from DinnerAnd the greens are obviously going into another round of greens with eggs, garlic yogurt, and chili butter because how could I not?!

Don’t forget all of my weekly CSA recipes are under the Potter Hill tag.

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.

 

 

Barbecue chicken salad with tomatoes, peaches, and goat cheese ranch dressing.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Tomato, Peaches, and Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing - Vegetal Matters Christmas creep is by far the worst example, but I think the problem has gone way beyond just one holiday. It is more like seasonal creep now. It happens with businesses, beers, and food bloggers. The infamous hot pumpkin coffee beverage starts making its appearance at the end of August.  I went to a grocery store and a craft store labor day weekend and was bombarded with pumpkin beer and Halloween decor. And this doesn’t just happen this time of year. Sam Summer goes out on shelves in March. Recipes for asparagus and strawberries pop up everywhere in March and April, even though their seasons aren’t really in full swing until June. Tomato dishes are everywhere in July, but their peak season is August and September (and it even goes into October).

There is a push for always preparing for what is ahead, instead of enjoying what is here. A need to experience all the quintessential things that are supposed to happen in a season, instead of the reality. It is about to be October. I live in Massachusetts, and on Monday I went to the farm where I buy my produce and selected from summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, radishes, winter squashes, potatoes, kale, chard, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, leeks, onions and herbs. It is that wonderful time of seasonal transition, when both summer and winter crops are coming in. I still love my share of fall crops (though pumpkin does not get me nearly as twitterpated as everyone else), but my true favorites come from summer. The beauty in many fall and winter crops is they last a long time if stored properly. So I have many months to get in my butternut squash soup and beet salads, but in the meantime I’m going to ingest all the nightshades and stone fruit I can manage.

Last week I made barbecue chicken, but wanted a lighter meal for the leftovers. A few peaches from peach week were still in the fridge, and since I’ve already put peaches and tomatoes together, and peaches and chicken together, putting peaches, tomatoes, and chicken in one dish wasn’t much of a stretch.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Peaches, and Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

Serves 4.

This is easily scale-able. If you don’t eat chicken, chickpeas or cauliflower (a la buffalo cauliflower salad) would make an excellent substitution.

Salad

  • 2 chicken breasts with barbecue sauce (see note for substitutions), chopped
  • 12ish cups lettuce (I used a mix of lettuce and cabbage), enough to fill 4 dinner plates, from about 1/2 a head of cabbage and a small head of lettuce
  • 2 medium tomatoes (or a few handfuls cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 peaches

Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots or red onion
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ fresh ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley

If you have a food processor, set it up with the S blade (or use a blender). Turn it on and drop the garlic in from the top, processing until you don’t hear any more bits bouncing around. Add in the shallot, and process for 30 seconds. Add the goat cheese, buttermilk, salt, and pepper in and process until smooth. Without a food processor, whisk the garlic, shallot, goat cheese, buttermilk, salt, and pepper together. Then whisk in the parsley (don’t add the parsley into the food processor unless you want a very green dressing). Allow the dressing to sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or longer if you can.

Chop peaches and tomato into ½ inch pieces. Divide lettuce onto plates, then top each plate with a quarter of the tomatoes, peaches, and barbecue chicken (I like to warm it slightly). Serve with goat cheese ranch.

 

 

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 MattersI refuse to answer the question “How was your summer?” I’m still eating my way through it!!! More than ever I’m experiencing serious recipe FOMO. There are so many things I should be cooking with so much summer produce. Eggplant parm (standard and pizza) and cherry tomato sausage bakes and zucchini carbonara and plum cakes and peach cobblers. A chorizo and tomato salad which is the marriage of two of my absolute favorite ingredients that I pinned years ago and still haven’t cooked. I haven’t made ice cream yet this summer (But this peach derby ice cream has to be in my future. It just has to be.). But I need to take this one meal at a time. I had tomatoes in every meal that I cooked this week, so that counts for something.

Epic roast chicken salad (from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, pictured above with dry English cider). This is a perfect summer Sunday meal. It has a longer cooking time, but it is mostly hands off. The balance of ingredients is inspired. Crispy, chewy bread, fatty bacon and chicken skin, sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy green beans, meaty chicken and the acid and bite of vinegar and mustard. This is the dream salad I didn’t know I should dream about. And though the bread bits weren’t quite as good the next day, I still thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers. I added in extra cherry tomatoes and green beans, and still could have done with more.

Chickpea and cherry tomato curry (the recipe is in the booklet at the bottom, which has a bunch of other gems). The first time I made this curry was a revelation. Coconut and tomatoes?! But they add the perfect sweet and bright pop to a rich curry. I add in more tomatoes than called for, and always want even more than that. Just remember to start rice to serve it with before you make the curry…otherwise it leads to a late dinner.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal Matters

Sabih (from Jerusalem). Though this recipe has a lot of parts, it is really just an open faced sandwich with salad and sauce and everything came together quickly. I found the eggplant to be a bit oily after frying…maybe because I didn’t have it hot enough? Or have enough oil in the pan? The eggs were a weird texture to me among all the vegetables, but they did make it into a heartier meal.

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal Matters

Shrimp in green sauce. I was the sous chef to my mom on this one, but I did provide the recipe and then thoroughly enjoy the product. Super easy, and vibrant in color and taste. Served with tomato salad and corn on the cob, finished with blueberry cobbler. Thanks Mom!!!!!

Last Week I Cooked - Vegetal Matters

Breakfasts this week were and ode to tomatoes and eggs. An omelet with sautéed cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and goat cheese and skillet potatoes. (When making omelets for two, I prefer to use a big pan to make one giant omelette and then split it in half for eating.) Fried eggs with fried tomatoes on buttered toast. Scrambled eggs with goat cheese on toast with sautéed tomatoes (pictured above). Egg and salsa burritos. My one rule is the tomatoes should be cooked before paired with eggs, because I don’t like cold things stealing the heat from my eggs, and they are often too watery uncooked.

Not something I cooked, but hilarious: So you want to write a food blog (via Shutterbean). “Remember, you never want to confuse your readers. I find it helpful to always provide a photo of each individual ingredient, in case your fans forget what food looks like, as well as a candid photo of a baby (it doesn’t have to be yours) in a bathtub full of chia seeds. Isn’t he adorable?”