Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

After hearing about my eggplant dilemma, my friend, Donna, directed me to this recipe for Baba Ganoush. I am a big fan of Mediterranean food, but surprisingly, had never had Baba Ganoush. I simplified the recipe a bit and it turned out well. I included it as part of a mezze-type-thing with fresh pita bread, kalamata olives, hummus, sliced grilled zucchini and fresh tomatoes with balsamic glaze, and sweet mini peppers. There was also a salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onions, and bell peppers. I intended to add feta to the table, but totally forgot. I served Vinho Verde, a young, light, and slightly bubbly Portuguese wine with our meal.

Baba Ganoush

1 large Italian eggplant
1/4 tahini (plus more, if needed)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (plus more, if needed)
pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Using a fork, pierce the eggplants all over. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 1 hour, turning half-way through cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cut off the ends of the eggplants and discard. Peel off the skin. Use a spoon to scrape off any flesh left on the backside of the peel. Place the eggplant flesh in a large bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant.

Add the 1/4 cup tahini, garlic, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

Spread into a serving dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Serve with pita bread.


Baked Eggplant “Meatballs”

Baked Eggplant Meatballs

I’ve gotten sooo many eggplants from my CSA the past four or five weeks.  I have made Eggplant Stroganoff, oven-fried eggplant, Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry, Eggplant Parmesan, Roasted Ratatouille, eggplant chips, and Baba Ganoush. Even after all of that, I still had 7 (!) eggplants in my fridge. Honestly, at this point, I’m not that gung-ho about eating more eggplant, but I don’t want them to go to waste either.

This recipe uses 4 eggplants (yay!) and turned out better than I expected. My hubby even liked them. On their own, they were a little bland for my taste and when I make them again, I will be a little more liberal with the salt and maybe even add a dried Italian herb blend and/or fresh basil to the mix. They were great with spaghetti sauce.

This recipe made 50 “meatballs” and can easily be halved. I froze a bunch of the “meatballs” for future meals. I was thinking they may be good for a vegetarian taco filling or for “meatball” subs.

These Eggplant “Meatballs” were great on top of spaghetti. I also tried them on top of spaghetti squash. This is a great option for a low-calorie meal. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash, 1/2 a cup of spaghetti sauce, and 3 Eggplant “Meatballs” comes in under 200 calories. I joked that it tasted like “I’d rather be fat” but seriously, it wasn’t bad at all.

Eggplant Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

Baked Eggplant “Meatballs”

4 medium (Italian) eggplants (or 2 large)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup oat bran
1 – 1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Using a fork, pierce the eggplants all over. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cut off the ends of the eggplants and discard. Peel off the skin. Use a spoon to scrape off any flesh left on the backside of the peel. Place the eggplant flesh in a large bowl. Using a potato masher or hand-held blender, mash the eggplant.

Eggplant Mash

Add the eggs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and oat bran to the mashed eggplant; mixing well. Season with salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs a 1/2 cup at a time. How much you will use will depend on how wet the mixture is. The mixture needs to be able to hold together when you roll it into balls. I ended up using the full 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs. There is a chance you will need more.

Take about a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Place on the baking sheet. Continue to roll out eggplant balls until all of the mixture has been used. Lightly spray the eggplant “meatballs” with cooking spray and place in the oven.

Uncooked Eggplant Meatballs

Bake in a 375° oven for 35 to 45 minutes, turning after the first 20 minutes, until golden.

Eggplant Meatballs

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

Chicken and eggplant is a classic Thai combination. When stir-fried with a curry paste, it makes for an easy meal. This recipe took me less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I served it with some Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice (Brown Basmati). So easy.

I used Maesri brand Prik Khing curry paste, which I bought at an Asian market, when I made this. I’m a huge fan of Maesri curry pastes.

Prik Khing Curry Paste

You can use your favorite Thai curry paste. Thai Kitchen makes red and green curry pastes and they are easily found in the ethnic section of some grocery stores. If using Thai Kitchen curry paste, you probably want to reduce the amount of curry paste. I would suggest with starting with 2 teaspoons and going from there if you want it spicier.

IMG_5199 (378x640)

I don’t always have access to fresh Thai basil. When I do get Thai basil, I chop what I don’t use immediately in a food processor and freeze it. I just break off a piece of the frozen Thai basil and add it to my dish while I’m cooking it.

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry 3

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

2 tablespoons oil (I used canola, but coconut would be good too)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons Thai curry paste (I used Prik Khing curry paste)
1 large unpeeled Japanese eggplant (or 2 small), sliced (about 1/4-inch) diagonally
1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar
fresh Thai basil, torn (about a handful)

Heat the oil in a wok (or skillet) over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it is just starting to lose it’s pink color. Add the curry paste and stir-fry until the chicken is coated. Add the eggplant and bell pepper. Season with fish sauce and sugar. Stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, and the eggplant is cooked to your preference. I like mine tender, but not mushy. Add the Thai basil and take off the heat. Serve with hot rice.

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry 2

Eggplant Stroganoff

Eggplant Stroganoff

I’ve been getting some beautiful eggplants in my Pinckney’s Produce CSA box so far this season. I’m always looking for new ways to prepare eggplant. Each week CSA members get an email early in the week with the contents of the week’s box, news from the farm, and a recipe to use some of the produce. This recipe for Eggplant Stroganoff was featured in last week’s email. It was mentioned that the recipe given produces a runny sauce. I thought I could avoid that problem by preparing the sauce separately from the veggies and reducing the amount of liquid. I think my adaptation of Eggplant Stroganoff turned out well.

My husband had reservations about trying the Eggplant Stroganoff. He’s not a big fan of eggplant, but he admitted that he liked it and then had seconds. I wasn’t a 100% certain I would like it, but it was actually super-delicious. I finished off the leftovers for lunch today and am already thinking about making it again soon. And why not? This Eggplant Stroganoff has almost half of the calories of my Beef Stroganoff and is totally satisfying. You will not miss the meat in this dish.

Eggplant Stroganoff

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 Italian eggplant (or two small), cut into 1-inch cubes (no need to peel the eggplant)
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I used 1 1/2 cups water and 2 Knorr vegetable bouillon cubes)
1/2 cup sour cream (you can use low-fat)
salt and pepper, to taste

cooked egg noodles, warmed

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and dry mustard and cook for a minute. Gradually add the vegetable broth, whisking constantly until thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm on low heat.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften. Add the eggplant and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes. Pour reserved sauce over the eggplant mixture and stir gently to combine. Reduce heat and simmer a  few minutes more. Serve over warm egg noodles.




Thai Green Curry with Eggplant

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant

I have been getting some beautiful eggplants in my Pinckney’s Produce CSA box the past couple of weeks. I love making Thai curries and eggplant is one of my favorite curry ingredients. Using canned Thai curry paste and canned coconut milk, this eggplant curry couldn’t be easier.

I keep a variety of Thai curry pastes and canned coconut milk in the pantry for quick meals. The Maesri curry pastes are so amazing and functional. There are many different flavors available. My favorites are the red curry, green curry, prik khing, and masaman varieties. You can find Maesri curry pastes at Asian markets. I have even seen them on at triple the price (or more) than what they sell for at Asian markets. If you have never been in an Asian market, you should go. They are fascinating places with all kinds of ingredients you have never seen before at really good prices. I have left Asian markets with 6 bags of groceries that cost me less than $40. Many of the ingredients in this recipe are easily found at an Asian market, but may be harder to find at the grocery store. So, use this recipe as an excuse to explore an Asian market.

Here is a picture of the Maesri green curry paste:

Maesri Green Curry Paste

My favorite coconut milk is Chaokoh brand. Here’s a picture:

Chaokoh Coconut Milk

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant

.1 tablespoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
.1 4 ounce can Maesri green curry (This amount will make a very hot curry. You may want to start with 1/4 or 1/2 of the can and then add more if you like. It’s easier to add heat than take it away.)
.1 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk (shake the can before opening)
.1 large Italian eggplant (or 2 smaller ones), ends removed and cut into bite-size chunks (you can use any kind of eggplant, really)
.1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
.1 8 ounce can of bamboo shoots (sliced), rinsed and drained (you can also use fresh slice bamboo shoots that can be found in the produce section at Asian markets)
.1 tablespoon brown sugar (white sugar or coconut palm sugar is fine too) or to taste
.1 tablespoon of fish sauce (also found at an Asian market – my favorite brand is 3 Crabs, but other brands can sometimes be found in the Asian section at the grocery store) – leave this ingredient out to make this a vegetarian dish
.1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1/4 cup chopped Thai basil and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro)

In a wok (or skillet), over medium-high heat, heat the oil and then add the curry paste. Saute until fragrant and then stir in the coconut milk. Once combined, reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped eggplant, bell pepper, and bamboo shoots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender. Season the curry with the sugar and fish sauce. Add the chopped cilantro (and Thai basil, if using) and serve with rice.

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant 2

Keaw Wan Kai (Chicken Curry)

From September 28, 2005: I made this Thai green curry last night and fell in love with it.  It’s absolutely amazing!  It’s as good (if not better) than anything you can get at a Thai restaurant.  It’s also very simple to make and fast to prepare.   Adjust the spice level to your tastes.  Remember, it is easier to add more heat than to take it away.  I served the curry with basmati rice because I like it better than jasmine rice.  It is also faster to cook and not as sticky.

I wasn’t able to find Thai eggplants, but  was lucky enough to find (purple) Indian eggplants at a local grocery store for a real bargain……8 little eggplants for 56 cents!  If you can’t find Thai eggplant (or Indian), substitute regular eggplant (cut into large cubes…use about 2 large handfuls).

Keaw Wan Kai (Chicken Curry)

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons green curry paste (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
8 small Thai eggplants, quartered
3 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves, julienned very thinly
12 fresh Thai basil leaves (plus more for garnish)
red chili, thinly sliced

In a mortar, pound the fresh cilantro leaves.

Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan until very hot.  Add the pounded cilantro leaves and fry for 1 minutes.  Add the curry paste, coriander and cumin, and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until an arome develops.  Lower the heat and add the coconut milk, a little at a time.  Allow it to simmer for about 2 minutes, then add the chicken and cook until cooked thorugh.

Add the Thai eggplants, sugar, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil leaves.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until eggplant is tender.  Sprinkle with more Thai basil leaves and sliced chili (if desired)and serve.

To make a vegetarian version of this recipe, substitute 4 ounces of tofu for the chicken.  Add 2 ounces small broccoli florets and 8 pieces of baby corn, quartered lentghwise.  Use light soy sauce instead of the fish sauce and prepare the dish as above.

Recipe adapted from Madame Pa’s Chicken Curry recipe in The Blue Elephant Cookbook by John Hellon (Pavilion, 1999).

Hoisin Eggplant Balls

Hoisin Eggplant Balls

hoisin eggplant balls

From November 8, 2005:  I made these last night and they were fabulous.  Great appetizers for Thanksgiving and all the parties that are coming up.  I squirted a bit more hoisin sauce decoratively on the serving plate for fun.

I added an additional step when preparing this recipe….I chopped the eggplant pulp after squeezing out the excess liquid because it was kind of stringy (perhaps I didn’t bake the eggplant long enough).  Don’t forget to scrape the garlic in with the egglant pulp. 🙂

Hoisin Eggplant Balls

1 large eggplant
3 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup ground peanuts
1/4 cup tahini
2 T. fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (or more as needed)
3 T. hoisin sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut 6 slits into the eggplant and place a piece of garlic in each slit.  Place eggplant on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until soft, about 45 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees if you plan on baking the eggplant balls.

Halve the cooked eggplant and scrape out the pulp.  Squeeze the pulp between the palms of your hands to remove excess liquid.  Place pulp in a bowl.  Add the ground peanuts, tahini, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Blend well.  Add just enough bread crumbs to hold mixture together when shaped into balls.  Roll the mixture into 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls and coat with bread crumbs.

Bake eggplant balls on lightly oiled baking sheet until browned and firm, about 20 minutes.  OR  Fry eggplant balls in batches in 1/4 inch hot oil over medium-high until browned on all sides, about 2 – 4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Place eggplant balls in a bowl with hoisin sauce and stir gently to coat. Skewer with toothpicks and serve at once.

Recipe source:  The Meat and Potatoes Vegetarian Cookbook by Robin Robertson (Harvard Common Press, 2002).