comfort food

Eggplant Involtini

Italian food is definitely on my top 5 for favorite cuisines. It is fresh, full of amazing flavor and, to me, the ultimate comfort food. Involtini is one of my favorite dishes. It is quite versatile, which I love. You can change the flavors in the filling or change out what you use for your "wrapper." Whether it be zucchini, squash or eggplant (chicken and veal is also used). This version uses Good Culture plain cottage cheese instead of ricotta. It is high in protein and adds a really lovely texture. I love all the layers of flavors the different vegetables add. Feel free to play with flavors and see what you create!

LLXME1394.JPG

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-large eggplant
  • 2-5.3 oz cups Good Culture plain cottage cheese
  • 1 small-medium zucchini
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cups crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 T fresh rosemary
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • zest from half a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch slices

 

Preheat the oven to 475. Peel the eggplant and cut (or use a mandolin) to slice into 1/4 inch slices lengthwise. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 15 minutes until the eggplant has released some of the water. Pat with a paper towel and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until brown and soft.

IMG_0707.JPG
IMG_0708.jpg

Shred or cut zucchini into matchsticks. Thinly slice the mushrooms and mince the garlic (reserving one clove) and rosemary.  In a skillet at medium head, add 1 T avocado oil. Add garlic and rosemary and stir until fragrant. Add zucchini and stir to coat. After the zucchini becomes soft, add mushrooms and salt to taste. Add the red wine vinegar. Cook until zucchini and mushrooms are tender and most of the water is cooked off. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat. In a large bowl combine cottage cheese, sliced artichoke hearts, remaining garlic, veggie mixture, lemon zest, oregano, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until combines, taste and adjust seasoning.

In a baking dish, drizzle 1-2 T of olive oil and several spoonfuls of pasta sauce. Spread around with a spoon. One at a time, place a slice of eggplant on a cutting board. Add a large spoonful filling to the end closest to you. Roll and place in a baking dish. Continue until all the filling is used. 

IMG_E0710.JPG
IMG_E0712.JPG

Smother the rolls in pasta sauce and top with mozzarella slices and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes until heated through. Turn the broiler on and broil for 3-5 minutes, keeping a close watch as not to burn. This will make the top golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit 10-15 minutes. Serve with a green salad and sourdough garlic bread. 

IMG_E0713.JPG

Punjabi Bharta

I love Indian food. I honestly could eat it every single day. I particularly love Punjabi food. Punjab is the northern region of India and happens to be where my husband grew up. He normally does the Indian cooking in our house, but lately I have been feeling super inspired. The last time we visited India I would spend hours in the kitchen with my Auntie watching her work her magic. It was an experience I can't quite put into words. She had a sixth sense when it came to seasoning dishes without even needing to taste them and could roll out a roti with her bare hands in a matter of seconds. 

Bharta is one of my husband's all-time favorite dishes. Bharta means eggplant in Punjabi. This dish is nurturing, smoky and delicious. Indian food is designed to have an ease on the digestive track. I stuck to tradition with this recipe as I feel like it is perfect the way it is. Traditionally served over white Basmati rice, topped with ghee and with a side or yogurt or next to a roti or naan. 

Ingredients:

IMG_0964.JPG
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/3 c frozen peas
  • 3 T ghee
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander, cumin seed, curry powder and smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp each turmeric, fennel seed and ajwain (caraway seed)
  • 1/4 tsp  each ground cardamom and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water

First step is to "smoke" or roast the eggplant. I do this by using two medium to large cast iron pans. Over medium high heat, place the eggplants into a dry cast iron skillet and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes. Turn the eggplants slightly so that the surface right next to the one you just cooked can be cooked. Continue to rotate every 5 minutes or so until the whole outside of the eggplant is charcoaled. Place the second pan, fave down over the top of the pan and turn the stove off. Let sit for an hour and sweat. Remove the eggplants from the plan, the skin should easily slip off. Remove all the skip and place the eggplant into a high speed blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until you have an eggplant puree. 

In a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet, melt the ghee on medium heat. Add all the spices and stir until fragrant. Toasting your spices in ghee before adding any other ingredients, releases the flavor as well as activates the turmeric. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook on medium-low heat until the onions are very soft (10-15 minutes). You want them to be transparent and starting to caramelize. Add the tomato paste and water (start with 1/4 cup, if it seems too thick, continue to add water 1 T at a time. You want it to be a thick gravy-like consistently). Add salt, eggplant and peas. Stir until combined and taste to adjust salt. Serve over steamed rice and top with yogurt