Tag Archives: herbs

Eggplant Panini with summer tomato and herb dipping sauce…a little late

This recipe is awfully late, but a few things have delayed blogging these days. But alas, I am sitting here reflecting on our summer garden, which may have been small, but she was mighty…well at least in the eggplant department. Also, not in the true sense of productivity, but rather, we felt passionately productive when we could harvest any bounty from our 4×4 urban, shady plot…for which I am grateful.  We plucked a red strawberry here and there, some jalapenos, and plenty of summer herbs.  Things just seem to taste different when you grow them yourself, and I seem to handle them with much more care in the kitchen.  I let our Japanese eggplants sit on the vine, went and visited them just about every day, and all the while thought about how I could best prepare those beautiful fruit.  I needed them to be the stars. I had a flash feeling of myself embodying one of those horrible beauty pageant stage mothers, trying to best display her eggplant babies for their big show.  Not quite, but you know what I mean.  So, I came up with this beautiful eggplant Parmesan panini with a summer tomato and herb dip.  This dish just screamed summer, and my oh my was that eggplant tender. She also won in the beauty category as well. 

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Eggplant Panini with summer tomato and herb dipping sauce…

sandwich:

sliced cracked wheat bread

garlic

olive oil

1 Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced

organic breadcrumbs (Trader Joe’s has a nice consistency) or make your own

ground parmesan cheese

fresh mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper

1 tbs ground flaxseed and ¼ cup water (substitute for egg)

Combine ground flax seed and water, stir and let sit. 

Combine organic breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and spread on a plate. 

Then in a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Begin dipping eggplant slices into water/flaxseed mixture, then into breadcrumb mixture, and then into frying pan.  Cook until crispy and then flip and repeat. 

Lightly toast slices of bread in a panini press (or in a pan with a heatproof, weighted, pan on top to flatten the bread). Rub a garlic clove onto the bread, giving it a bit of flavor.  Then assemble bread, eggplant, cheese, and some fresh herbs.  Place back into the panini press until bread is crispy and cheese is melted. 

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tomato sauce:

tomatoes

fresh parsley

fresh basil

salt and pepper

If you have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden, slice in half, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Oven roast until just wilted and most of their water has been evaporated.  Then in a food processor puree, add salt, pepper, and herbs.  Blend until smooth in consistency. 

If you do not have garden tomatoes you can use a can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes.

 


Serve along side sandwich for dipping. 

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Simple summer salad with a harissa vinaigrette…

Everything about life has been on vacation mode until this week.  We have been slow to rise, late to bed, seeing the world, tasting the world, beach time, pool time, splash time, snuggle time, books, and baking.  Recently we have been spending a lot of time in our new garden, tending to our seedlings, but mostly just watering and staring at our plants.  We have been pruning our herb garden in hopes of bigger, thicker bushes…and I am hoping “green thumbing” runs in the blood. My father is a plant whisperer.  I have many memories of walking through my hometown woods with my father as a kid. He pointed to plants and gave me both their botanical and common names, taught me how to identify poison oak in all four seasons, and explained the differences between lichen and moss.  We have beautiful oak trees dripping in Spanish Moss (which is neither a moss nor a lichen) of an almost earthy teal if that makes any sense, and a salty fog that feels like home in those woods.  So…I am hoping that gardening, like cooking, and be heritable.  Happy bleated father’s day dad, I love you so.

This salad is dressed with the herbs from our garden, and I will hopefully make it again with our own peppers and cucumbers.  It is super easy to make and tastes like summer.  I might add this tastes super with a cold, Mexican beer out of the bottle.

I apologize for the quick phone photos!

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Simple summer salad with a harissa dressing…

Salad

1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (or 1 can of black beans, rinsed)

two ears corn, grilled and kernels removed (or Trader Joes sells a nice frozen roasted corn)

2 cups dry quinoa, cooked and tossed

1 cup toasted pepitas

2 vine ripened tomatoes, diced

1 large red pepper, diced

two small cucumbers, diced

handful of fresh cilantro, minced

handful of fresh parsley, minced

cumin, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients together.

dressing

equal parts olive oil and lime juice, amount will vary, just go little by little.

Harissa (homemade or bought) or harissa powder (you can also use a mixture of Cayenne Pepper and chili powder if you don’t have easy access to harissa)

Salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together adjusting the spices as you like, and pour over salad, and toss. 

Serve salad with some crumbled queso fresco over the top.

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


FoodNotes…

This marinated feta is actually a Greek spin on an Eastern European pub snack. It generates some nice memories of my travels through that area.  I remember being in the Czech Republic, snacking on some spicy marinated cheeses while sipping on a cool pilsner. Those flavors have such a nice balance, creamy vs. bright…with some effervescence to wash everything down.  Marinated feta cheese can go quite the distance when entertaining.  It looks and makes people feel special.  I like to serve this marinated feta with olives, marinated mushrooms, and maybe some hummus and pita as an appetizer for when we have company.  It is also great over pasta with some roasted seasonable vegetables or on salads.

Marinated feta cheese…

First, find a container that you like and think is pretty, and consider the size.

Measure olive oil into about 3/4 the volume of the container. The cheese will displace some of the volume.

Then over VERY low heat, warm the olive oil and add any dried herbs that you love, some thinly sliced garlic, and peppercorns. The goal is to cook the garlic ever so slightly, and let the flavor infuse into the oil. This only takes minutes.  Then set aside to cool.   While cooling, cube feta and place in your container.  Then, pour the olive oil over the cheese once cooled.  Keep refrigerated.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Fried egg and herb salad on crispy flatbread…

Crispy flatbread is the new black. I am convinced. It is so versatile, so chic, and just screams delicious.  You can doll it up with seasonal herbs, eat it plain or with a little hummus, make crispy pizzettes, or top it with a lovely, summer salad. It has been incredibly hot and humid here, and nothing sounds better than a crisp, cold, crunchy salad, especially with cucumbers and fresh herbs straight from the garden.  If you feel so inspired, and the grill is going, brush the grill with a little oil and throw the flatbread directly on the grill.  I also grill the tomatoes as well with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Fried egg and herb salad on crispy flatbread…

flatbread:

1 ¾ cup flour

1 tbs fresh tarragon, minced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking powder

½ cup water

1/3 cup olive oil

fleur de sel (for a topping, if you are feeling fancy), Kosher salt is lovely too

cracked pepper

Oven at 450. Mix together dry ingredients and herbs.  Then add wet. Mix until dough forms into a ball. Break dough into 3-4 parts. Roll each flat.  Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with fleur de sel, cracked pepper and fresh herbs. Place on a heavy baking sheet and then in the oven, or you can use a preheated pizza stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes until crispy. Or, you can just throw the rolled dough straight onto the grill.

salad:

couple hand fulls of baby greens

some chopped radicchio and endive

1 small cucumber cut on bias (peeled if from the store)

fresh chives

1 egg per salad

4-5 roasted garlic cloves

olive oil, enough to lightly coat the salad

salt and pepper

wedge of summer tomato with each salad (raw or grilled)

To roast garlic, cover cloves in olive oil, and wrap in foil, broil until browned and soft. Mix together olive oil and roasted garlic cloves in the bottom of a large bowl. Making sure to smash the garlic until mostly incorporated into oil. Add salt and pepper.  Toss together baby greens, radicchio, endive, and fresh herbs on top of oil and garlic until leaves are evenly coated. Fry egg, over-easy/medium in olive oil. Top flatbread with salad and egg on top.

Cook together, toast to each other, and enjoy!