I Will Tell You a Story

Sunday was a 25 hour fast.  It is the second most serious fast day in Judaism.  Usually, we break the fast on an omelet with cheese.  When I asked my husband, what he felt like having, he asked if I would mind making spaghetti pie.  It sounded so right to me.  I make it without meat so it is not a heavy dish.  I was planning on using light cheeses and a plain filling.  Sounds good.

I put up the water for the noodles, cooked them, and went to drain them.  I drained them right into the soapy water.  Klutzy me.

While the pasta was cooking, I made a filling of eggplant, onion and tomatoes from the garden.  I stayed away from seasoning since we were looking for more to the bland side.  As it turned out, the tomato flavor is strong when it is a “real” tomato, just picked and ripe.  I had the filling for the spaghetti pie but no crust.  On another day, I would have very likely cooked more spaghetti but, I was grumpy, tired and hot but not hungry.  I was not in the mood to cook it again and I found a way to blame it on the good husband who wasn’t even in the room.  How do we do that?  Maybe, you don’t.  I did.

Bottom line, my filling became the main course.  We took some leftovers out of the refrigerator.  I had potato salad, Oriental spaghetti salad and a yummy egg salad.  A little bit of this and a little bit of that made for the right meal to break our fast.  That is making the best of what one has.

We had the same kind of happening on Saturday, our Sabbath.  At the last-minute, two more guests joined us for dinner.  I usually cook tons of food for the Sabbath but this week, because of the fast that began Saturday evening as the Sabbath ended, I cut way back and made just enough.  It is truly amazing, whatever food, there was, seemed to expand so that everyone had plenty to eat.  Honestly, I can’t figure it out.

I also had to feed the extra guests before the fast.  Keep in mind, we do not cook food on the Sabbath, so it had to be something ready to eat.  I don’t panic when these things happen but before a fast, I have to admit, I was concerned.  We all had to fill ourselves to get through the next 25  hours with food or drink.  Again, we had enough and I think everyone was full.

I do want to share this eggplant dish with you.  The tomato was the dominant flavor of the dish.

The Dish That Wasn’t

1/2 eggplant cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 large tomato, chopped

1/4 cup chopped cheddar

Heat olive oil in large skillet.

Put eggplant and chopped onion in skillet and keep gently mixing them around.  The eggplant browns quickly.

When onion is translucent and eggplant, slightly brown(about 6 minutes), add the chopped tomato and cheddar cheese and cook for an additional 2 minutes until tomato is hot  and cheese is melted.  If  you would like the tomato to really permeate the other ingredients, cook for another then minutes.

You could fill a taco or tortilla with this.  You could use it as a filling in a spaghetti pit.  You could use it in a sandwich.  You could use it as a sauce for rice, pasta or meat.  Feel free to spice it up.  I would have if we weren’t purposely keeping it bland….it really wasn’t.

 

As you can see, the photo, is not clear.  This is still in the skillet.  I apologize but I think, at least, this gives you an idea of what it looks like.

Eggplant Polenta Parmesan

This is the story of a lonely eggplant and 6 unhappy polenta slices who both wanted to meet a new friend.  They came to me to find out if I could help.  Each had a long story to tell about how they ended up so sad and lonely and yes, each has had a difficult life.

Ellie the Eggplant was not favored by the “Vegetable Eaters” who wanted carrots, corn, broccoli, squash and peas.  They walked by Ellie without even a glance.  Ellie sat in the store, hoping someone would come along before she went bad and take her to a real home.  She hated the cold aisles in the food store, lined up with food that called people and people came.  She watched the cauliflower depart followed by the zucchini and onions. She waved goodbye to her friends and put on a smile so they would not know, just how sad she was.

As she sat on her shelf, the polenta found itself in a home, a home where they enjoyed eating polenta with cheese but did not have any good ideas how else to make her into a meal.  She dreamed of finding a friend and working herself through the digestive system with the new-found friend.  Casey, her owner looked for recipes and actually  had a lot of them written on pieces of paper that were piling up.  Casey really did like polenta but was very busy and just could not find time to decide which recipe she should cook.  So the six slices, sat in the cold refrigerator wanting to catch up with their brothers who already had found friends to move on with.

Casey was shopping and saw Ellie sitting in a bin, looking longingly at the customers who ignored Ellie.  Casey saw tears rolling down her purple skin and took pity on Ellie.  She placed Ellie in her basket with two zucchini, one butternut squash, a bag of onions and some beautiful red tomatoes.  The eggplant thought to herself, one of these is going to become my friend.

Unfortunately, that evening, Casey did not use either the polenta nor the eggplant but each were happy to visit in the refrigerator and life was calm and happy.  The next day, excitement reigned.  The eggplant was removed from the refrigerator and was peeled and sliced.  Ellie was happy but she wanted her new friend there, also.  She begged Casey who went along with her and concocted a recipe where the polenta and eggplant could stay together.  There was rejoicing in the house.

Eggplant Polenta Parmesan

Ingredients

1 eggplant

6 slices of polenta

1 small onion, sliced thin

1/2 jar of Marinara sauce

1/4 cup Parmesan

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Season according to you likes.  I did not think it needed any.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a large skillet with oil and turn heat on to medium.

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch pieces and place in skillet.

Cook each side until slightly browned and partially cooked.

While eggplant is cooking, slice onions and polenta.  Polenta should be 1/4 inch thickness.

Remove eggplant and put on paper towels to drain.  Mine almost had no oil.

Add onions to skillet and cook for 4 minutes or until translucent.  Remove and place in a separate pile with the eggplant.

Brown polenta lightly on both sides, adding another spray of olive oil to skillet first.

Using a 19 inch baking pan, pour 3/4 cup of marinara sauce into baking pan, to cover bottom.  Place polenta slices to cover the bottom.    Place an eggplant slice on top of each piece of polenta.  Top with sliced onions and Mozzarella.

Pour remaining sauce over top of casserole and sprinkle Parmesan on the very top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 2o minutes until thoroughly heated and cheese melted.

Take a bite and be happy.

This is linked to Friday Food         Foodie Friday

Mideastern Roast Eggplant

The more I make eggplant, the more I realize, how I like it when it is crispy or dry.  I don’t enjoy wet eggplant or at least, not very much.  The logical decision was  to roast it, at a high temperature.  All you need to do is peel it, season it and put in the oven.

Mideastern Roast Eggplant

Ingredients

1 – 2 eggplants, peeled and sliced

Mideastern Seasoning

Spray Olive Oil

Procedure

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheet.  Place eggplant slices on sheet.

Bake for about 20 minutes.

Eggplant

Image via Wikipedia

Topped Baked Eggplant

I have been doing in an inordinate amount of cooking with eggplant, this season.  I discovered just how much I like it after thinking, I did not like it.  In truth, I don’t think, I would enjoy it, as part of a stew, soft and mushy.  I like when it is crisp and sets up other flavors to show their best side.

This was a Martha Stewart recipe but I ended up changing it, quite a bit.  Martha’s recipe can be found here.   I don’t enjoy mint in vegetable dishes.  I love mint chocolate chip ice cream and that is where mint, should stay, in my opinion.  I tried one time to include mint in a meat dish and that was the last time, I used it in anything than desserts.

Brownies with a mint filling are delicious.  Mint chocolates are great.  Gum with mint flavoring is the best.  Mint has its place, yes indeed.

After many years in education, I have learned that elementary school kids, at least boys, do not like mint in their cookies or cakes.  I also discovered that peanut butter is liked by only fifty percent of the guys.  Marshmallow does better, coconut much worse.  It is interesting to realize that their palates may not be  fully developed.

Topped Baked Eggplant

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplants (1 1/2 pounds total), cut into 1-inch rounds
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 ounces  feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced small
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoons red-wine vinegar, plus more if desired

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place parchment paper on baking sheet.  I used a cookie sheet.  A pizza pan would have worked, as well.

Arrange eggplant rounds in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Bake until undersides are browned .

 Roast until undersides are browned and eggplant is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon oil, feta cheese, onion, green pepper, tomatoes, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired. 

Transfer eggplant to a serving platter. Top each round with a spoonful of tomato mixture and serve.

I would have liked this better topped with mozzarella and cooked in the oven, for a few minutes, pizza style.  I love feta cheese but not so much, in this case.  Cheddar would have worked as would Tomato Basil Jack cheese.  This is a recipe, I would like to work on and change a bit.  Needless to say, you most likely will enjoy it Martha’s way.  It certainly caught my eye.

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant

Image via Wikipedia

I hate to admit that I have had this eggplant for almost two weeks and it looks a little worse for its rest.  I planned to make it two weeks ago and it didn’t happen.  This week, I took it seriously and made sure, it happened, but I wanted to put it off.  I took out all the other ingredients before I brought forth the eggplant.  I was fighting hard.  I looked at everything and thought, I could make lasagna or stuffed shells.  I could make a spaghetti pie. Finally, I straightened my back and greeted my eggplant.

The question is why did I procrastinate making it.  I think it is a subliminal thing.  I think eggplant, and my inner being says, “Ugh.”  It is true, I don’t like gushy eggplant but I really do like it breaded and baked or in this case, fried and baked.  So, why do I still push away the eggplant and choose something else to make?  If I had an answer, I would share it with you.

I must also share, this was one of the best dishes, we have had recently and we have been eating very well.  It was a good week, perhaps because, all meals were dairy and if I put a little effort into a dairy meal, it is usually delicious.  These were.  If I made dairy meals, all the time, we would be happy foodies and a lot heavier in weight.

This recipe was really easy unless you don’t like the breading and frying.  I don’t like it for health reasons but I don’t mind doing it.  This went quickly.  It is a straight forward recipe and I was done before I knew it.

Easy Eggplant Parmesan

(Kosher Food @ About.com)  (I made some changes to the recipe.)

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup crumbs, I made from Rice Chex  (use Panko crumbs – that would work beautifully)

  • 1/2 cup oil  (add if you need more…..I started with less and added a tablespoon when it was getting dry)

  • 12 ounces  spaghetti sauce

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1/3 pound  Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Procedure

1. Peel eggplant. Cut eggplant into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.

2. Dip each slice of eggplant into eggs and then crumbs.

3. Saute breaded eggplant slices until brown on both sides.

4. Preheat oven to 350° F .

5. In a baking dish, spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses.

6. Bake, uncovered, at 350° F  for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.Next time, I think, I will skip the frying and go right to the baking.  We don’t need all that fat.  I have made other recipes without the frying and they were fine.

Pasta Combo

I selected this recipe without reading it.  I had a picture in my mind as to what was to be done and what the ingredients would be.  I was close except for a key ingredient or may be two.  This, Mr. Food recipe had no ricotta and frankly, I think it needs it.

I just saw what my problem is.  I barely glanced at the recipe but I read the description and I see, I misread baked ziti to be lasagna.  No, the words are not similar.  This was all in my head.  I was thinking of what a great combination lasagna and eggplant parmesan were but that was not close to what was written.  I am leaving the original title and will add my changes.

Baked Macaroni and Eggplant Neapolitan is like eggplant parmigiana and baked ziti all rolled into one. Every mouthful is pure delight!

Baked Macaroni and Eggplant Neapolitan

Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ziti pasta (Penne)
  • Vegetable oil for frying (olive oil)
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 16 ounces Ricotta, divided
  • 2 cups  shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Procedure

Cook pasta according to package direction; drain.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Cook eggplant, a few slices at a time, until well browned on each side, adding more oil as needed. Drain eggplant on a paper towel-lined platter and cover to keep warm.  (I did this about an hour before, I actually put it together. It is time-consuming.  I also was able to squeeze out more oil, when the time had passed.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large baking dish with cooking  spray.

Here is where I did everything differently.  This is how I layered it.  Under this is what Mr. Food wrote.  I hope this will not confuse you.          

1.  I put about a cup of Marinara on the bottom of the dish.

2.  I covered this with half of the pasta.

3.  Next layer was one half of the Ricotta cheese.  Use a utensil to smooth it out or drop it in balls on the pasta.

4. Cover with Marinara sauce and half the eggplant.

5.  Sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the Ricotta and then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on top of that.

6.  Now, repeat, pasta, Ricotta, Eggplant, Marinara, Cheese.  Note eggplant, comes before sauce, in this half. 

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  (I basically layered it like lasagna.)

Mr Food speaks:

Layer half the ziti mixture in the prepared baking dish then 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, half the eggplant, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; repeat layers. Top with reserved 1 cup spaghetti  sauce the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, and remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until heated through.  (Mine was too brown at 30  minutes so it would be good to check it, before that time.

This was delicious.  The eggplant was a nice bite in the middle.  The Ricotta was the binding ingredient.  It was soft and inclusive.  My husband made it clear, he hoped to see it, on our table, again.

LINKED -

Sugar and Dot’s What I Whipped Up Wednesday
Lady Behind the Curtain’s Cast Party Wednesday
Daily Organized Chaos’ Foodie Wednesday
Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

These Chicks Cooked
Wow Me Wednesday

Pennywise Platter