Saturday, May 26, 2012

Honeyed eggplant with goat cheese

I love eggplant but for a long time I wouldn't buy them simply because of how large they are and how poorly they keep. Most recipes that call for eggplant make an enormous amount of food if you want to use it up. I wondered how stripped down I could serve eggplant, and this recipe is the result. Using one normal-sized eggplant makes a good meal for three.

1 eggplant
2 tbsp honey
3 oz goat cheese
7-8 thin slices of whole-grain bread

1) Preheat the oven to 400°. Then cut the eggplant into 7 or 8 slices, around 3/4-inches thick each. Place into 9x13 baking pan.

2) Drizzle the honey over the eggplant, then top with goat cheese. Bake for 30-32 minutes until cheese is browned and eggplant is soft.

3) While the eggplant is baking, slice the bread (a little thinner than what you see here, actually, about 1/4-inch thick) and double-toast them, so they're crunchy but not burnt. You'll end up with something akin to a crunchy cracker but with more stability.

4) Spatula the rounds onto the toast circles and they're ready to eat! Best served warm, of course.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Watermelon mango smoothie

We were first introduced to watermelon agua fresca (which is simply watermelon liquified in a blender) at Gordito's in Greenwood. I, of course, had to experiment with different variations, and I really like this one: the addition of the mango gives it a smoothie consistency.

3 cups watermelon cubes (1/4 of a personal watermelon)
1/3 cup mango cubes (about 1/2 a mango)
1/2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
6 ice cubes

1) Blend. Serves two.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Butternut squash with salted pinto beans

Years ago, I ate a butternut squash soup that I liked so much I researched how to make a similar one from scratch. The key: roasting the squash with apples and onion in the oven first, before blending. Eventually, I decided I liked it even better if I skipped making it into soup and just ate it roasted. When serving it as a full meal instead of just a side dish, I recently started adding a layer of salted mashed pinto beans mixed with bacon pieces as a contrasting element. It's a nice blend sweet and savory, refreshing and hearty.

2 pounds butternut squash, chunked
2 medium granny smith apples, peeled and chunked
1/2 of a large sweet onion, chunked
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup Irish cheddar cheese
1 15 oz can pinto beans
1/2 cup crumbled bacon
salt to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 450°. In a 9x13-inch glass pan, add the squash, apples, and onion. Drizzle the olive oil over the chunks evenly. Sprinkle the tarragon, thyme, salt, and pepper evenly, then stir.

2) You'll bake the dish 35 minutes total. At 20 minutes, stir once. At 30 minutes, stir again and add the Irish cheddar on top. Bake 5 additional minutes and it will be ready.

3) While the squash is cooking, open the can of pinto beans, pour off most of the salty liquid, and – without rinsing the beans – pour the rest of the can's contents into a pot. Gently mash the beans with a fork to break the skins and let in some of the liquid. Warm over medium heat, adding the bacon and stirring gently. Taste and salt additionally if needed.

4) When both components are finished, spoon some of the beans onto a plate and top with squash mixture. Serves 4.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spicy tilapia salad

I mentioned in my post on tomato coulis that I was finding it a good substitute for pasta sauce, sandwich spread, and burrito ingredient. This newest use was unique enough to deserve its own post: a version of tuna salad for those who are bored with tuna salad.

8 oz frozen tilapia fillets (2 average sized pouches)
6 tbsp tomato coulis
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp diced red cabbage

1) Thaw and thoroughly cook the fish fillets.

2) Mix together the fish, coulis, mayonnaise, salt, and cabbage. Woah, that was easy.

3) You can use this in any fashion you'd normally eat tuna salad; I love a warm open-faced sandwich.

4) For a casserole-style dish, mix in hot whole-wheat pasta and shredded Irish cheddar. It's like comfort food, but with a little more heat and tang to it.