Archive for the 'eggplant' Category

19
Oct
11

brunch, zumba, roasted root veggies

This carnivorous journey has proven quite interesting. I went from spending three years in meaty fear to fully embracing everything from the gamey lamb to the more mainstream meat trifecta of chicken, turkey, and beef. I then recalled my commitment to health, and so I downsized the red meat in my life and welcomed more lean proteins. Then, out of nowhere, I went all lady-balls-to-the-wall and had my very first duck bun! I’m almost ready to conquer ham, and I’m thinking a croque monsieur is the way to do it.

I’ve accomplished what I intended to do, which is to fully convert to a meat eater, enzymes to break down animal protein and all. I also cared to prove myself a worthy meat adversary, so that socially I prove more desirable as people who knew me as a veggie can get off on my unabashed consumption. And get off they do. You’re welcome, friends.

As a result, I no longer feel as if I have something to prove, meat-wise. And, so, I’ve decided that I prefer cooking mostly vegetarian at home, but I will continue to order meat when I’m out. Well hi there, happy medium. I knew I’d find you somewhere.

I’ve been making an awesome veggie-filled brunch on the weekends, and it’s always some variation of whatever veggies I have on hand and a poached egg. Last week, I made a particularly lovely one:

Ingredients:

veggies and a poached egg

1 egg
splash of white distilled vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 eggplant, chopped
2 c broccoli florets, chopped
2 c baby spinach
salt and pepper, to taste
Sriracha, to taste

You start by filling a small saucepan with water, and bring it to a simmer. Add a splash of vinegar, and drop the egg in the water. Cook for 3 minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon to dry on paper towels.

Meanwhile, cook garlic in a nonstick skillet with cooking spray for a couple of minutes. Add broccoli, and cook for about 5 minutes until slightly tender. Add eggplant and more cooking spray, and cook until they begin to brown along with the broccoli. Add spinach, and cook until wilted, another 5 minutes or so. Serve under the egg, and top with Sriracha. It’s been my go-to weekend brunch for nearly a year, and I’ve yet to tire of it.

On the sweaty front, I just discovered zumba. I know I’m a little late to the party (ha! pun intended), but I sure am glad I showed up fashionably late. I find myself enjoying monotonous cardio less and less (running, I’m referring to you), and so it was refreshing to go to a Latin-infused dance class for a change. It’s well documented that I’ve tried nearly every type of exercise know to man, but I will always return to dance. And zumba is, like, really challenging! It’s super fast and complex, and the instructor will not slow down regardless of the class’s comprehension. I’m a lifelong dancer and show-off, so I was made for that.

I came home all Starvles the Clown after my class last night, and I was in the mood for lots of veggies. I decided to make ratatouille, and I found this great recipe courtesy of Weight Watchers.

ratatouille atop tofu shirataki noodles

Ingredients:
¾ lb eggplant, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 c portabella mushrooms, sliced (my addition)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c water
14 ½ oz canned diced tomatoes2 tbsp basil
¼ tsp black pepper
4 tsp Parmesan (my addition)

You start by putting the eggplant in a colander in the sink, and covering it in3/4 tsp salt. Let stand 20 minutes, and then rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, and add the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook one minute, and stir. Add water, reduce heat, and simmer, covered for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil, pepper, and remaining ¼ tsp salt. Simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minutes.

I sometimes watch Hungry Girl, and she constantly raves about Tofu Shirataki noodles. They are cheap, a good pasta substitute, and just 40 calories a bag, so I had to give them a try.

You start by draining and rinsing the noodles, and then microwave them for one minute. Pat them dry, because they are far too moist to consume at first. I added salt and pepper to the then dry noodles, and served them underneath the ratatouille. It was just about the healthiest thing I ever did make, and it was really tasty. Totes making it again.

Last week, I made this incredible Roasted Root Jumble that I stole from the adorbs Aarti Sequeira:

Aarti Party

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander (I used cinnamon)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 large lemon, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 lb butternut squash, chopped (my addition)
cooked polenta, sliced (my addition)

The original recipe didn’t call for butternut squash, but I added it in for funsies. You start by pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the oil, cumin and cinnamon in a bowl, and then add ½ tsp of salt and a fair amount of black pepper. Lay the vegetables on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil and cover them in the oil. Toss to coat. Bake for 30 minutes, then add feta and bake for 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, I cut the polenta into slices and pan fried in a skillet over medium-high heat. I cooked until they blackened a bit, and then served them underneath the jumble. I don’t want to overstate this, but it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever consumed, save for a blackened salmon taco I had in Austin once. The roasted lemon is incredible, and I was able to quash my desire to add hot sauce by squeezing lots of flavor out of the lemons. That, in itself, is a massive accomplishment since I am a Sriracha obsessive. See below:

roasted root jumble with feta

25
Apr
11

grilled ratatouille, seared tuna, lentil Israeli salad, stuffed peppers.

It’s happened again. I’ve allowed so much time to lapse between posts that I’m no longer confident with all the spice I’ve been eating and the sweat I’ve been doing. And I’ve been consuming massive amounts of spice and sweating TONS, my friends. Remember that Physique 57 I spoke of not too long ago? I’m now in the intermediate class and going about four times a week. I’m also severely limiting carbs from my repertoire, cutting out processed anything, and moving towards a more protein-focused regimen. If that’s not progress, then I’m not sure what is? Aside from in-flight wifi. No one can deny the absurdity/brilliance of that. Remember when we had to fly without facebook? Shudder.

I could try and condense a month’s worth of meals into one post, but I choose to feature only the most colorful of what’s been sustaining me. I made this great Grilled Ratatouille Salad with Feta that I found on Epicurious. It came about when I was thinking of making ratatouille, and then instantly self voting against it due to the pasta.

grilled ratatouille salad

Ingredients:

1 12-14 oz. eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into strips
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
2 tbsp fresh basil, slivered
2 tbsp garlic flavored olive oil (I used garlic mixed with olive oil)
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
2/3 c feta cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

This recipe is meant to be made on the barbecue, but I have neither a workable outdoor space (hello, bustling Avenue A? Don’t mind the charcoal) nor a barbecue (nevermind, Avenue A. Go on about your day), so I used my version of the indoor grill with my Panini Press. That thing is a sweatandspicy legend, right? It’s been along for this more than two year ride, and it still has shotgun.

Anyways, you start by drizzling the vegetables with olive oil, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Since I made my olive oil garlic-infused, I started by mincing 2-3 cloves of garlic and letting them soak in the oil while the Panini Press heated up and I chopped all the vegetables. Grill for about 10-15 minutes, or until the veggies look all blackened and delicious, and then remove from grill. Drizzle with vinegar, sprinkle cheese and basil, and eat. It was ridiculously easy, delicious, and colorful. Winner.

Next, I made a Seared Tuna with Green Onion-Wasabi Sauce, also courtesy of Epi. Trader Joe’s is always good for $4 frozen Ahi tuna steaks, so it was actually a pretty cheap meal, too.

Seared Tuna with Green Onion Wasabi Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 c of water
3 tbsp wasabi powder (I used crushed peas)
1/3 c soy sauce
3 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp dry sherry (I used sherry vinegar)
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tsp minced fresh ginger
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 6-oz ahi tuna steaks (I used two)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced into matchstick-sized strips

You start by whisking water with the wasabi powder, which I made by putting a handful of wasabi peas into a plastic bag and taking a hammer to them on the floor. Such a good stress reliever, and it made the perfect crunchy consistency. Then, whisk in soy sauce, 2 tbsp peanut oil, Sherry, sesame oil and ginger. Stir in onions, and set aside.

Sprinkle tuna with salt and pepper, heat skillet with 1 tbsp peanut oil over high heat, and sear tuna for about 3 minutes a side. Spoon cucumber on a plate, top with tuna, and spoon sauce on top. The recipe called for radish sprouts also, but Trader Joe’s had nothing of the sort, so I left them out. I served alongside sugar-snap peas, and it was so delicious. Highly recommended, if only for the fact that I got to hammer wasabi peas. Delightful.

I was getting relatively close to introducing meat back into my diet, but I had a temporary setback with some unwilling bacon grease consumption and a subsequent bout of food poisoning. It wasn’t pretty, and so I’ve decided to steer clear of meat and limit even the pescetarian side of me for a bit. It really was jarring when I went an entire day in which I consumed just one slice of toast (ah, so sorry Passover!) and about a 1/2 cup of yogurt. A little breaksie is necessary.

While I was midway between my cardio routine (30-45 minutes of a combo of interval treadmill running, elliptical or the bike) and my Physique-ing, I invented and devoured this little salad earlier today:

lentil "Israeli" salad

Ingredients:

1/2 c yellow lentils
1/4 c grape tomatoes, sliced
1 mini-cucumber, sliced
1 c arugula
1/8 c feta, crumbled
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cumin

I was inspired when I dug some long-forgotten lentils from my freezer immediately after the cardio side of my workout. I had been craving this chopped Israeli salad I get from this place, but I’m conserving the slight remainder of my monies for my sister’s visit this coming weekend. Armed with a bag of newly bought groceries, I decided to make my own take on the salad with lentils rather than chickpeas.

I started by boiling one cup of lentils in 2 1/2 cups of water, and then simmering for 5-10 minutes. I then chopped the tomatoes and cucumbers, and laid them atop my bed of arugula. Once the lentils were done, I drained in my handy Giada colander (shameless plug for my girl) and added about half to the top of the salad. I seasoned with cumin, salt and pepper, and then topped the whole salad with the feta, olive oil and vinegar. Easy and delicious, just like I like it.

After my salad, I headed to Phyqisue for some more body sculpting. I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time in those studios doing moves like the one you see below, and it’s all in the hopes that I’ll get somewhere near Kelly Ripa-ripped. I mean, that’s the goal. It’s her preferred workout and they taunt you with press pieces all over the place that she swears by it. Any day now, I guess.

Staying with the whole originality thing, I made my own version of a stuffed bell pepper for dinner.

Physique

Ingredients:

3 large green bell peppers
1 c black eyed peas, pre-cooked
2 ears of corn, grilled and sliced off the cob
1/2 c grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 c feta, 3/4 mixed in and 1/4 on top
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, to finish
1/4 c dried cranberries to top (not pictured)

First, I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees. I started by cutting the tops off the peppers and gutting the insides, removing the ribs and seeds. I par-boiled the peppers in water for about 5 minutes, and then I removed them to drain with their “business ends” in the air.

Meanwhile, I spent about 15 minutes grilling the corn on all sides with my Panini Press. Once that was done, I stood an ear up on a bowl and sliced the kernels right off. I learned that little trick from Rachael Ray, and it really does make it to where no kernels fly across the kitchen. Easy clean-up, my friends. I’m a fan.

I combined the onions, tomatoes, peas, corn and feta in a bowl. I mixed those ingredients together, and then added the salt, pepper, and cayenne. I filled each pepper with the mixture, and then topped with more feta. I put them on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet and popped them in the oven for 30 minutes. I removed, cut one in half, and served with a squeeze of lemon juice for added flavoring. About midway through, I realized some dried cranberries would be a welcome addition to the party, so I added those as well. They know how to get the party started. Anyways, they were really good and pretty, in a Georgia O’Keefe kind of way:

stuffed bell pepper with black eyed peas, onions, tomatoes, corn and feta

26
Feb
10

veggie pizza with truffle oil and parmesan.

The weather has been all kinds of Bipolar lately. One minute it’s all “Aren’t I gorgeous? Check out my bright blue skies. How’s about some Sun? Done. Mild temps? You got it, baby,” and the next moment it turns all, “You want cold? I’ll give you cold. I’ll give you freezing, bitch. How’s 17 degrees? Wait, wait, I’m not done. How’s about two feet of snow? Want flurries for days?” And you’re left with cracked and bleeding knuckles and what can only be described as mild irritation.

Last weekend was one of the highs. I got to the point where I left the coat at home and wore loafers without socks to shop a little. Admittedly, I jumped the gun just a little on the lack of coverage, but damn was it a nice preview of what’s to come. I’ve started to feel like a hamster on a wheel at the gym every day, so it was fucking delightful to run outside. On Saturday, I went back to my track and ran two miles, and then I ran another couple of miles alongside FDR. Running alongside traffic is really underrated. I did the same thing on Sunday, except this time I did the track, the path along FDR, and then ran through the streets. I mean, danger? Never heard of it.

I just watched “Into the Wild” last night, and it actually changed my life. Like, I’m obsessed with this Emile Hirsch and (most) everything his character stands for, but that movie is also such a love letter to nature. Emile spends 3/4 of the movie looking all athletic and tanned and doing all kinds of risky outdoorsy activities, and I think that’s when I connected with him most. Of course, he gets all miserably Jesus on the Cross-like once he gets to Alaska. That’s not really of interest to me. Anyways, I was so ready to start running, hiking, paddling, etc.  As if on cue, the weather hit one of her lows yesterday.  We got like two feet of snow overnight and shitloads of snow ALL damn day. Who, me? Bitter? Never.

On the spicy side, I made the most delicious veggie pizza earlier this week. My friend introduced me to Chelsea Market, which I’m almost ashamed to say I had never checked out in my three years in NYC. It’s MECCA. The place is filled with fresh food markets, Italian specialty stores, delicious bakeries, etc. Also, it’s dirt cheap. I bought an entire week’s worth of groceries for $18.95! Suck it, Whole Foods. Anyways, my pizza was made of:

Ingredients:

Veggie pizza

whole wheat pizza dough

1 small Japanese eggplant, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced

tomatoes on the vine, sliced

cremini mushrooms, sliced

mozzarella, sliced

fresh basil

fresh thyme

olive oil

truffle oil

I started with some store bought dough, which you can get at Trader Joe’s for $0.99. You have to let it sit at room temp for about 20 minutes, so in that time I sliced up all my veggies and preheated the oven to 425 degrees. I rolled out my dough and put it in my little pizza pan sans oil. Risky, I know. I then laid all my veggies atop each other and sprinkled the whole thing with thyme. I drizzled both oils on top, and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. I added the basil at the last 5 minutes so it wouldn’t wilt, and it came out all kinds of delicious.

I’m not sure how attractive it came out, but see below for the first piece I ate…which was followed by two more pieces. I served it with a little Parmesan cheese on top and doused it in red pepper flakes. So good! See below:

Veggie pizza with truffle oil and parmesan




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