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Image.NeapolitanStuffedEggplantTomato

Neapolitan Stuffed Eggplant

In Appetizers / Starters, Vegetables On August 12, 2017 0 Comments

I’ve been making this eggplant recipe since I was 9 years old and living in Campania!

My Nonna (grandmother) used day-old bread and eggplant pulp – diced and fried. She then mixed the breadcrumbs, fried eggplant pulp, eggs, Pecorino-Romano cheese and other basic ingredients. This became the stuffing which was placed back into the shells and deep-fried.

Wondering how the eggplant is stuffed and baked? Read on… it’s worth it! No restaurant serves Neapolitan Stuffed Eggplant.

Prep time: 30 minutes (for frying & cooling) & 30 minutes (for baking)
Makes: 12 servings (leftovers store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days)

Ingredients:
6 Japanese eggplant (small eggplant)
1.5 tablespoons salt
1 quart safflower or sunflower oil
1 day-old Italian bread or French baguette (outer skins cut & discarded) & crumbled with hands
6 large eggs, beaten
1 to 1-1/3 cups grated sharp, imported Pecorino-Romano cheese
6 large basil leaves, finely chopped
Dash grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Garnish for the Non-Baked Version (in photograph below):
5 to 7 cherry tomatoes or home grown San Marzano tomatoes
5 to 6 fresh basil leaf sprigs, for garnish

Garnish for the Traditional, Baked Version with Tomatoes (in above photograph):
One 32-ounce can diced San Marzano tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, sliced into 3 to 4 pieces
5 to 6 fresh basil leaf sprigs, for garnish

Cut the Eggplant:
1. Rinse and pat dry the eggplant with paper towels.

2. Remove and discard top end with leaf/stem.

3. Vertically cut the eggplant in half.

4. Take one cut half, insert pointed tip of sharp knife 1/8-inch inside eggplant shell.

5. Using knife tip, cut around the pulp until it comes out in one piece – this may take a little practice.

6. Cut pulp vertically into 1/2-inch strips. Cut strips into 1/2-inch cubes.

7. Set eggplant cubes aside in a colander.

8. Repeat cutting procedure with remaining eggplant. Set aside in colander.

Salt & Fry the Eggplant:
1. Sprinkle the salt all over eggplant cubes in colander & gently toss with hands; let eggplant drain in colander set over a bowl for 20 minutes.

2. After 20 minutes, using cooks’ plastic gloves, take a handful of eggplant cubes and squeeze out the bitter juices over a sink; set eggplant cubes aside in a bowl.

3. Repeat squeezing out the bitter juices with remaining eggplant cubes.

4. Pour the sunflower or safflower oil into a 12-inch frying skillet (preferably stainless steel, as this heats up quickly).

5. Heat the oil.

6. When oil is hot but does not smoke, test one eggplant cube by gently lowering it into oil. If it begins to sizzle, the oil is ready.

7. Fry the eggplant cubes in 2 to 3 batches – eggplant cubes should turn golden brown (not dark brown).

8. Transfer fried eggplant batch to a paper towel-lined platter.

9. After transferring first batch, cover it with paper towels & lay the second batch over them. Repeat with third batch.

10. When eggplant is fried, let it cool so that it is warm to the touch – about 10 to 15 minutes.

11. Save the oil and skillet for frying the stuffed eggplant later.

Prepare Stuffing:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Place the crumbled bread & the fried eggplant cubes in a 12-cup mixing bowl; set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, using a whisk or a fork, beat the eggs with 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese.

4. Gently stir the egg-cheese mixture into the breadcrumbs & eggplant in bowl.

5. Add the chopped basil leaves, dash nutmeg & black pepper.

6. Taste some of the stuffing & check it for cheese level. If needed, add remaining 1/3 cup cheese & a little salt.

Stuff the Eggplant Shells:
1. Divide the stuffing into 12 portions – you may be able to do this visually.

2. Place a portion of the stuffing inside eggplant shell, gently patting it down. It should look a little rounded on top. Set the stuffed eggplant shell, face up, on a platter.

3. Meanwhile, stuff the remaining eggplant shells, setting them aside on the platter.

Fry the Eggplant:
1. Reheat the oil in skillet. When oil is hot but does not smoke, gently and carefully lower one stuffed eggplant, face down, into oil. Repeat with a few more stuffed eggplants until they fit comfortably in skillet (about 5 pieces).

2. Fry the eggplant for about 3 minutes; check underside with a spatula. If eggplant is not golden brown, fry it for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, checking occasionally.

3. When eggplants look golden brown on bottom, using 2 large forks or 1 fork and a spatula, gently turn them over; fry the shell side for 3 to 4 minutes.

4. At this point, you can serve the stuffed eggplant without baking it – it will be drier than the traditional, baked version:

For this Non-Baked Version, transfer stuffed eggplant to a platter and garnish with fresh tomatoes & basil sprigs:
Image.NeapolitanStuffedEggplant

For the Traditional Baked Version with Tomatoes (featured in photograph at the top of this page):
1. In a 16X9-inch Pyrex baking dish, spread out half of the canned, diced tomatoes.

2. Sprinkle olive oil over tomatoes, followed by salt and garlic.

3. Lay the stuffed eggplant over the tomato mixture in Pyrex dish.

4. Evenly spread the remaining diced tomatoes over stuffed eggplant in Pyrex dish. Add a dash of salt.

5. Cover the eggplant tightly with aluminum foil & bake on a rack set in center of oven for 30 minutes.

6. After 30 minutes, transfer the Pyrex dish with eggplant to a rack or trivet on kitchen counter.

7. Let the stuffed eggplant cool down for about 10 minutes.

8. You can serve this Neapolitan Stuffed Eggplant as an appetizer (by itself) or as lunch/dinner, accompanied by a green salad on the side.
Buon Appetito!

Italian Wine Pairings: Greco di Tufo (white wine) or Aglianico (red wine). Both wines are from the area of Naples in the region of Campania, Italy.

Text & Photographs ©2017 Nancy DeLucia Real

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Grilled Eggplant & Tomatoes

In Appetizers / Starters, Vegetables On July 18, 2016 0 Comments

With work and summer weather, I don’t feel like heating up the kitchen. But I still prefer eating delicious and healthy vegetables at home.

So here’s what I’ve been makin’ in minutes – grilled eggplant! Serve Grilled Eggplant & Tomatoes as an appetizer or side dish. It tastes so good!

Prep time: 16 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant, tips cut off and discarded & flesh cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
olive oil (for brushing eggplant slices)
Salt (for lightly sprinkling over eggplant slices)
8 to 10 cherry tomatoes
Fresh rosemary leaves, to taste

Directions:
1. Line an 18 X 12 baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Place some olive oil in a small bowl.

3. With a basting brush, coat the lined baking sheet lightly with oil; set aside.

4. Place the eggplant slices on the oil-coated baking sheet.

5. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt.

6. Transfer the baking sheet with eggplant slices to an oven rack positioned 6 inches from oven’s top broiler element (this is the electric conduit at top of oven that turns red when control knobs are set on “broil”).

7. Broil the eggplant slices for about 7 to 8 minutes per side or until they turn golden brown.

8. Using oven mitts, transfer baking sheet with eggplant slices to a counter.

9. Turn the eggplant slices over. Repeat oil coating and salting directions.

10. Return baking sheet with eggplant to oven rack. Broil eggplant slices for 7 to 8 minutes or until they are golden brown.

11. Transfer baking sheet with eggplant to a counter.

12. Gently transfer eggplant slices to a serving platter.

13. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them intermittently on top of and around eggplant slices.

14. Lightly sprinkle olive oil over eggplant and tomatoes.

15. Remove rosemary leaves (they are spiky) from stems; garnish eggplant and tomatoes with rosemary leaves.

16.Serve immediately or cover until ready to serve.
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Image.TurkishMoussaka

Eggplant-Turkey Moussaka

In Holidays, Meats, Soups and Stews, Vegetables On November 23, 2014 0 Comments

Moussaka is an eggplant dish from Greece and Turkey. In Greece, it is layered with ground lamb and served hot. In Turkey, the eggplant is stewed with lamb and served warm or at room temperature.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m making eggplant moussaka from Turkey. It contains ground meat of the same name – lol! For those of you who are vegetarian, simply omit the ground turkey. Bon appetit!

Prep time: 1 hour
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:
1 medium eggplant
1 large tomato
extra virgin olive oil (to brush eggplant and tomato)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing the moussaka)
1/2 pound dark ground, organic turkey meat (or lamb)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium brown or white onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes® (canned)
1 cup tomato purée
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Dash freshly-ground nutmeg

Grill the Eggplant & Tomato:
1. Line a 12 X 18-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil; brush foil with olive oil and set aside.

2. Cut off and discard top and bottom of eggplant.

3. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick slices and place the on foil-lined baking sheet (previously oiled).

4. Cut the tomato in half and place it (cut-side up) alongside eggplant slices on baking sheet.

5. Brush the eggplant and tomato with olive oil; lightly sprinkle each with salt.

6. Place the baking sheet on a rack positioned 6 to 7 inches away from top broiler element inside oven.

7. Grill the tomato and eggplant for approximately 8 minutes or until eggplant has turned golden brown.

8. When eggplant has turned golden brown, wearing oven mitts, transfer the baking sheet to a counter.

9. Transfer the tomato pieces to a bowl to cool.

10. Turn the eggplant slices over; brush them with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.

11. Grill the eggplant slices (on other side) for 6 to 8 minutes or until they have turned golden brown.

12. After eggplant is done, set the baking sheet to a counter; transfer eggplant slices to a plate to cool. Set aside.

Prepare the Moussaka:
1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch skillet.

2. When the oil is hot (do not let it smoke), add the ground turkey (or lamb).

3. On medium-high heat, stir-fry the meat, constantly breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

4. Add the garlic, onion and chopped peppers.

5. Cook the mixture on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.

6. When onion is translucent, stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato purée.

7. Cook the moussaka for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato sauce has thickened.

8. After 4 to 5 minutes, stir in the vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

9. Cook the moussaka for 5 to 6 minutes longer. Taste and adjust seasonings.

10. Serve moussaka alongside one or more recipes from this website:
Hummus Heat with Pitas and Vegetables (see recipe index – Appetizers/Starters);
Persian Cucumber Salad (see recipe index – Salads);
Butternut Squash Risotto (see recipe index – Pastas, Rice & Legumes).

Text & Photograph © 2014 Nancy DeLucia Real

Nancy's Eggplant Caponata

Nancy’s Eggplant Caponata

In Appetizers / Starters, Vegetables On June 27, 2012 0 Comments

Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes®

In The Kitchen Buzzz’s kitchens, we use Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes® because of their natural, sweet flavor, minus the salty, acidy aftertaste.

Active prep time: 20 minutes
Inactive prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
2 large eggplants, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons salt (to remove bitter juices of eggplant)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, stem removed, seeds discarded and flesh cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium brown or white onion, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
One 15-ounce can Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomatoes®, blended, strained (pulp discarded and tomato juice reserved)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (brown variety)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup black or green, pitted olives, rinsed, drained and sliced
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Using a knife and working on a cutting board, trim and discard the eggplant tips.

2. Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch slices. Cut slices into 3/4-inch pieces.

3. Place eggplant in a colander set over a large bowl. Sprinkle the eggplant with 2 tablespoons salt. Using hands, toss the eggplant and salt; set aside 20 minutes for bitter juices to drain).

4. After 20 minutes, and using plastic gloves, place about 2/3 cup eggplant pieces in between hands. Press hands together over sink, allowing eggplant juices to escape. Set the pressed eggplant aside in a large bowl.

5. Meanwhile, in an 8-quart stockpot, heat the oil on medium-high setting. Stir in the eggplant. With a wooden spoon, sauté eggplant on high setting, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes or until it is light golden brown. If high heat browns eggplant too quickly, lower it to medium-high.

6. Stir in the bell pepper, celery and onion pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, on medium-high setting for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is translucent.

7. Add the reserved tomato juice, Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomatoes®, balsamic vinegar and sugar; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, on medium-high setting.

8. After 5 minutes, stir in the capers and olive slices; cook an additional 2 minutes. 

9. After 2 minutes, taste the caponata and, if needed, adjust salt level. Stir in the black pepper.

Enjoy Eggplant Caponata as an appetizer with fresh Italian bread or toasts.

To serve with Italian toasts, called “bruschette” – arrange Eggplant Caponata atop bruschette and serve immediately.

Red wine pairing: Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Text and Photographs ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real.

Stewed Okra

Stewed Okra

In Soups and Stews, Vegetables On September 11, 2010 0 Comments

A few weeks ago, at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market I heard someone ask, “How do you make okra?” This recipe is a wonderful response to that question. While all the vegetables marry well in the stewing, the sauce is the best part and should be picked up with some good Italian bread.

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh okra, tops cut off and discarded
2 Japanese eggplants, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pasilla pepper, stem and seeds discarded and flesh cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds discarded and flesh cut into thin strips
1 medium brown onion, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup vegetable broth
1 pound cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a 4-quart stockpot. Add the okra, eggplant, pasilla and bell pepper strips and stir fry on high heat, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the onion and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes.

3. Stir in the vegetable broth and cook on medium-high heat, 1 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve with fresh Italian bread or steamed rice.

Note: This is a vegan recipe.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real