Grilled Eggplant

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Hey, everyone! How are you?

Are you loving summer as much as I am right now?

This summer has been glorious food-wise and I have been taking HUGE advantage of the town’s farmer’s market each weekend. It not only serves as a good study break (T-minus 3 weeks until the big RD exam!), but also a great source of meal inspiration throughout the week.

I walked away this past weekend with a bunch of beets, a ginormous head of romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, my beloved whole wheat sourdough bread…

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…and probably the most beautiful eggplant that I have ever seen in my life. It was screaming “BUY ME”, so I grabbed it and decided right then and there that I was going to grill it (the farmer who was bagging up my purchases agreed with me).

So that’s what I did.

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I sliced up the most beautiful eggplant ever into thick rings (about ¾ of an inch thick) and then laid the slices in a colander and salted them with some kosher salt (about 1½ teaspoons for a medium-sized eggplant). This helps bring out the excess liquid in the eggplant and it also helps draw out the bitterness that eggplants are known for. After letting the eggplant sit for about 45 minutes, I gently rinsed off the salt and patted the eggplant dry. This method can be used not only for grilled eggplant, but eggplant that you are going to pan-saute, fry, or roast!

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Then I sprinkled on some olive oil, some more kosher salt, ground black pepper, and some fresh thyme leaves (totally optional).

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Yummy!

All that was left was to pop these babies on a hot grill and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes per side.

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Just what grilled eggplant should be – charred and smoky on the outside and soft on the inside! And no bitter taste, so this is a great veggie side dish to serve to your more veggie-adverse family members.

They were delicious as a side for grilled steak and absolutely amazing as the star in this sandwich I whipped up with the leftovers (more on that later this week!).

Hope you are having a great week, kiddos!

Your eggplant lovin’ friend,

C

Grilled Eggplant

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1 medium-sized eggplant

1 tablespoon olive oil

1½ + 1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Leaves from 3-4 springs of thyme (optional)

 

Steps:

1. Slice the eggplant into ¾-inch slices (approximately 8-10 slices per eggplant). Lay the slices in a colander in a sink (or over a bowl) and salt the slices with 1½ teaspoons of kosher salt. Set the eggplant slices aside for 45 minutes to draw out the excess liquid and bitterness. Rinse the eggplant to remove the salt and pat it dry.

2. Coat the eggplant slices with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, the black pepper, and the thyme leaves. Place the slices on a pre-heated grill (I heat my gas grill on medium-high heat) and cook the slices for 4-5 minutes per side or until they become slightly charred and have good grill marks.

Serve the eggplant alongside your favorite main dishes or use as an addition to sandwiches, salads, or pasta!

 

Nutritional Information (1 serving):

66 calories • 8.5gm carbohydrates •ŸŸ 4gm fiber •Ÿ 1.5gm protein Ÿ• 3.5gm fat Ÿ• 0.5gm saturated fat Ÿ• 480mg sodium Ÿ• 0mg cholesterol •Ÿ 0.5mg iron Ÿ• 17mg calcium

Weekend Eating

I ate a lot this weekend.

Well, I normally eat a lot on the weekends, but this weekend was different… somehow.

I think what separated this weekend from the other 51 was that many meals I chose were seasonal and very fall-like. Nothing like celebrating the season with some good food (and good company!).

 

The weekend started with an amazing lunch during my tour of the urban gardens in the Bronx.

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Roasted chicken, sautéed spinach, rice pilaf studded with beans, peas, and corn, and a barley salad full of butternut squash, red bell pepper, and scallions. Delicious, nutritious, and warm – the perfect warm-up break during a soggy day touring through gardens.

Despite my filling lunch, I cannot be in NYC without getting a pretzel.

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No matter what, before I leave, I need to have a pretzel… extra salt, please!

 

Sunday mornings in my house means one thing – a big breakfast. Waffles or pancakes are on the menu, usually studded with chocolate chips. But, in deference to the season, we decided to dive into the world of pumpkin breakfast items.

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These are Smitten Kitchen’s pumpkin waffles. Pumpkin perfection (plus they make the house smell like pumpkin bread)!

I adorned my waffles with the two things that I love to pair with pumpkin – chocolate and almonds.

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Yum!

The best fuel for a morning full of church and a trip to the farmer’s market.

 

My weekend of chowing down culminated in the farm-fresh salads my family made for lunch. We laid out a bunch of salad ingredients and let everyone create their own.

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Mine took a salad niçoise turn… salad greens, tuna, soft-ish boiled eggs, cucumber, and tomatoes. So it’s salad niçoise minus the green beans, olives, capers, and anchovies. Similar? Ehh, maybe not. But it was still a perfect lunch!

 

It was a great weekend full of fall foods, sweet and savory. Now it’s back to reality… PB&J for lunch, anyone?

Your still in a food coma friend,

C

You Say ToMAYto, I Say ToMAHto

Actually, I say toMAYto but that is beside the point. So summer also seems like a time where I TOTALLY slack off on the blogging duties. To my defense, I really didn’t cook this summer – I tried to entice my sister and dad into trying the awesome lentil sloppy joes (featured here), but they were not having it. The one meal (which is all about tomatoes) that I did orchestrate was a success though! And here is a post about it… six weeks later.

We have a teeny-tiny farmer’s market in my hometown; it is comprised of approximately two farmers, a sweet lady selling organic honey, a man with jam (and jelly), a person selling pickles, an awesome baker (whose crumb cake is more crumb than cake – to die for), and the crown jewel – the guys in a truck making fresh mozzarella (and it’s always still warm!!). It totally inspires my inner foodie. My mother had to restrain me from marching into each tent and declaring that I wish to buy their entire stock… okay, that might be a little over dramatic, but when I go I need to buy everything.

This buying trip featured gorgeous basil, fresh mozzarella, and beautiful, ruby-red tomatoes. So I decided that I was going to cook and it was going to be Italian night paying homage to the great tomato. The menu of greatness consisted of homemade pizza with tomato-mozzarella salad on the side. And beer. Needless to say, I was super excited.

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Dinner prep started with making the pizza dough (find my foolproof recipe here) and making pesto. I have to say that I go off of a Food Network recipe for my pesto, but I make a few key changes. For the best pesto in the world, you need:

5 cups of fresh, washed basil

¾ cup of good olive oil

6 garlic cloves (leave out a couple cloves if raw garlic isn’t your thing)

1 cup fresh grated parmesan

½ cup walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Throw everything (but the olive oil) into a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped really small. Then put the food processor on and drizzle the olive oil into the mixture until the pesto is smooth. Taste (because you don’t want to serve bad pesto, right?). My mom divides up the pesto into plastic containers and stashes them in the freezer – then dinner is always at her fingertips! I want to try this by freezing pesto in ice cube trays and then placing the cubes into big plastic bags – perfect for frantic grad school nights.

Back to pizza-ville – I decided that I was going to make three different pizzas. Traditional cheese for my more-picky sister, traditional cheese with onion, and pesto. The first two types of pizza are easy to prepare. Take the risen focaccia dough and spread it into a greased cookie sheet. I let it rest for 15 minutes in the pan, so that the dough can rise a bit more. I then put on sauce (leaving a 1” border on the edges) and heaps of mozzarella cheese. The onion pizza is identical except I place thinly sliced onion on top of the mozzarella.

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Here is the plain pizza in all its brown, cheesy awesomeness.

The pesto pizza proved to be the challenge. I hate that pesto turns brown when heat is added to it. But pizza needs to be baked. To get around this issue, I decided to let the focaccia bake halfway before putting on a generous slather of pesto and mounds of cheese. And it worked! No brown anywhere on my pie! It was a food engineering success.

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Look Mom, no brown pesto!

Needless to say, everything was devoured (including my mom’s beautiful tomato-mozzarella salad – it was super yummy!).

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It was a farmer’s market bounty dinner that encompassed all the food ideals I learned in Italy. First, use fresh, local, and seasonal products. Second, use them the same day you bought them. Third, share your bounty with family and friends. My dinner wasn’t just about the tomato (or the pesto, mozzarella, or pizza), it was about all of the connections we made around the dinner table. It was the perfect meal indeed.

Your philosophical tomato lover,

C

Perfect Pesto

  • Servings: 2cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

5 cups of fresh, washed basil

¾ cup of good olive oil

6 garlic cloves (leave out a couple cloves if raw garlic isn’t your thing)

1 cup fresh grated parmesan

½ cup walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

Throw everything (but the olive oil) into a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped really small. Then put the food processor on and drizzle the olive oil into the mixture until the pesto is smooth. Taste (because you don’t want to serve bad pesto, right?). My mom divides up the pesto into plastic containers and stashes them in the freezer – then dinner is always at her fingertips! I want to try this by freezing pesto in ice cube trays and then placing the cubes into big plastic bags – perfect for frantic grad school nights.