Tag Archives: eggplant

Greek stuffed vegetables

Recently, a friend asked me if I’d show her how to make my silverbeet and filo scroll, which of course I was delighted to do.  We gathered at her place with a couple of others, one of whom showed us her Greek stuffed vegetables, called “yemista”, for a very relaxed and fun night of cooking and chatter.   I knew The Marito would like this, so had a go at making it myself a few nights later.

Like a lot of my Italian recipes courtesy of Mamma Rosa, she made it on look and feel so I’ve done my best on quantities.  Also like a lot of our Southern Italian recipes, there are many many versions of this Greek dish, depending on the village or how it was tweaked over the years.  Often, currants and nuts – either toasted flaked almonds or toasted pine nuts – are added, particularly at Christmas.  You can also add garlic when frying off the onion, but my cooking companion, like me, doesn’t cook with garlic (her husband doesn’t like it, and neither does my father, so Mamma Rosa never cooked with it and so I don’t), and other herbs such as fresh oregano if you have it on hand.  For our vegetables we stuffed tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant, but you could just do one of those if you prefer.  Capsicum are also often used. You can also do a meat version of this using a mince combination of your choice. I really loved the use of mint in this dish.

Ingredients
6 tomatoes
2 medium eggplant
4 medium zucchini
1 large red onion, diced
50ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 cup medium grain rice
500ml chicken stock, plus a few tablespoons extra
1 cup continental parsley leaves
1 cup mint leaves
100g feta
Salt and pepper for seasoning

Making it
1. Slice the tops off the vegetables (about 1cm from the top, maybe a little more for the eggplant) and set aside. These will be the “lids” later on

2. Using a spoon, scoop all the pulp out of the tomatoes, chop coarsely, and set the pulp aside in a bowl

3. Similarly, scoop the flesh out of the zucchini and eggplant, to form a boat shape. Leave a good rim otherwise they will collapse during cooking. Chop the flesh coarsely and set aside.

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4. Add the olive oil to a pot with the onion and a pinch of salt, and fry off on medium heat until the onion starts to soften. Add the reserved eggplant and zucchini flesh to the pot and continue to cook for a few minutes until softened, then add the tomato pulp. Cook for a few more minutes and add the rice and 250mls of stock and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Coarsely chop the parsley and mint, add to the mixture, combine and remove from the heat. Check for seasoning at this point and add if needed. Note the rice will still be on the crunchy side, don’t worry about this, it will cook in the next stage.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees fan forced. Place your vegetable “boats” in a baking dish (you might need two dishes) and then loosely fill each with some of the rice mixture. Don’t pack it down or overfill (you’ll see I overfilled my tomatoes and little as a couple split) as the rice will expand during cooking. You might have a little rice mixture left, if so you can add more stock and keep cooking and turn it into a bit of quasi risotto for another day!

6. Cut the feta into small pieces and place one piece in each tomato, two or three pieces in each of the eggplant and zucchini depending on the size. Then spoon a teaspoon or two of stock into each vegetable. Next, place the “lids” on each vegetable, season to taste, and drizzle with a little olive oil on the top. Pour about half a cup of stock into the bottom of the baking dish. Put the dish in the oven and cook, uncovered, for an hour. Remove from the oven and serve, hot if you wish or at room temperature, which is typically how they are served in Greece. Delicious!

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Timballo of eggplant, peas and scarmorza

Have you ever designed a dish around an ingredient? That’s what happened here.  A very thoughtful long time friend bought me some smoked scarmorza recently, and I was thinking of something delicious I could use it in.  I used most of it here and the rest in a zucchini parmigiana, which I usually make with mozzarella. I used eggplant and peas as well as the scarmorza for my timballo but you can use all sorts of ingredients.  Sydney’s Buon Ricordo does a devine version with tiny veal meatballs, quail eggs and provola. I’ve seen others where each pasta tube is piped with spinach and ricotta, and others which are done with a Bolognese sauce. It’s a fiddly dish but worth it.

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Timballo filling
1 medium eggplant
1/3 cup plain flour
2 hard boiled eggs
1 small onion, finely diced
150g frozen peas
150g smoked scarmorza
Olive oil
Salt

Chop the eggplant into small cubes (small enough to fit inside rigatoni, I used a chopping contraption I got from Williams and Sonoma which I bring out when I have a recipe requiring perfectly consistent slicing or chopping).  Put the flour in a plastic freezer bag, add the eggplant and shake to coat.  Place a frypan on high heat with about 1cm of olive oil.  Once the olive oil is hot, fry the eggplant, in batches if needed, until golden, and drain on a paper towel. Season and set aside.

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Place the peas in a bowl and microwave for a few minutes.  In the meantime, put a tablespoon of oil in a small frypan and saute the onion until soft.  Add the peas and saute for another 4-5 minutes. Take off the heat and put the peas and onion in a bowl and allow to cool.

Chop the eggs into small cubes, small enough pieces to fit inside rigatoni, and add to the peas.  Likewise with the scarmorza.  Finally add the eggplant to the bowl and combine all the ingredients.

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Tomato sauce
4 tbps olive oil
2 x 400g tins whole tomatoes
4-5 basil leaves
Salt

Heat the oil in a small pot, add the tomatoes, 1 cup of water, the basil and salt and allow to simmer on low to medium heat for 30 minutes.  Take off the heat, puree with a stick blender and set aside.

Pasta
500g rigatoni
1 egg
50g grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
Chopped basil, for garnish

In a large pot, bring some salted water to the boil and cook the rigatoni until al dente, circa 8 minutes.  Strain and lay the rigatoni on a tea towel to dry and cool.  In a large bowl (large enough to fit all the rigatoni), crack the egg and beat lightly.  Add the parmesan and then add the rigatoni and combine.    Add two ladles of sauce to the bowl and combine to coat the rigatoni.

Assembly

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius fan forced.

Grease a 19cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.  Starting from the rim, place the rigatoni standing up until the tin is full (you may have a small amount of rigatoni left over).

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Gently start filling the rigatoni with the timballo filing mix. (I didn’t use all I mix, I thought it was pretty full, but once I cut it post cooking I realise I could have stuffed more in, so don’t be shy). Once done, spoon a couple of ladles of the tomato sauce on the top and give the tin a gentle tap.

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Cover the filled springform tin with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Place a plate over the top of the cake tin and flip the timballo.  Loosen the springform tin and remove and remove the baking paper.

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Garnish with parmesan and chopped basil and serve.  You can also spoon over and remaining tomato sauce.

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Caponata – Italian sweet and sour

Caponata is a humble but delicious Sicilian eggplant dish.  While the origin of the name is unknown, it is considered by many Siciliani to be a core dish of the region’s cuisine . Typically served at room temperature or even cold, it makes a great side dish for fish or grilled chicken.  Or even for breakfast on some crusty bread with a fried egg.   The quantity below is enough as a side dish for 8-10, however it keeps well in the fridge for a good few days if you’re keen on making a batch and eating it gradually. I had some the following day from the refrigerator and it was even tastier with more developed flavours. Variations on the theme – some versions add toasted pinenuts and sultanas. Also add some fresh basil if you have it on hand.

caponata3

Ingredients
4 medium eggplant
Salt
Olive oil for frying
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
1 large brown onion, diced
2 cups celery, cut into 1cm pieces
1/2 cup green Sicilian olives, pipped and quartered
2 tablespoons salted capers, well rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon raw sugar
50ml red wine vinegar
1 tin peeled tomatoes

Making it
1. Cut eggplant into 2cm cubes, sprinkle with salt and leave for 20-25 minutes. Rinse and dry with paper towels.
2. Put a generous amount of olive oil in a frypan, heat, and fry the eggplant in batches until golden and soft but not collapsing. Line a colander with paper towels and drain the eggplant, using more paper towels as needed.


3. In a heavy based frypan, heat the 2 tablespoons of extra olive oil and saute the onion until soft, then add the celery and saute for another 5-7 minutes. Add the eggplant, capers olives, sugar, red wine vinegar and tomatoes, gently combine and simmer on low heat, covered, for 10-12 minutes
4. Remove from frypan and place in a serving bowl and allow to cool

 

Vegetable terrine

Got a vegetarian coming over? They will love this. You could also use some semi dried tomatoes chopped through it. Slices of baked salted ricotta instead of bocconcini would work well, or no cheeses at all if you prefer dairy free. Prepare the day before serving.

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Ingredients
2 large eggplants
3 zucchini
3 red capsicum
Olive oil
Caramalised balsamic
Bunch of basil
5 large bocconcini thinly sliced
Salt

Making it
1. Slice the eggplants lengthways in 7mm slices, brush liberally with olive oil and chargrill (a mandolin and George Foreman makes short work of this!). Season the slices as you take them off the grill.

2. Similarly slice the zucchini, brush with olive oil, and chargrill. Season.

3. Meanwhile, char the capsicum under the grill, turning gradually so all blackened. Remove from grill and once cool enough, peel off the skin, remove seeds and tear into strips. Season.

4. Spray a loaf pan with olive oil and line with glad wrap. Line with eggplant such that there is some eggplant hanging over the sides. (Set aside one slice of eggplant for the end, any remaining slices can be used throughout). Gradually layer the zucchini, capsicum, basil, bocconcini, and any remaining eggplant, with dots of caramelised balsamic as you go. Once all the layers are done, fold the eggplant over and place the last slice of eggplant on top. Seal with the glad wrap, place a plastic lid or tray that fits snugly inside the pan, and weigh down with some canned tomatoes or fruit and place in the refrigerator overnight. You may need to strain excess juices a couple of times.

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5. Once ready to serve, turn out onto a platter and garnish with basil and slice.

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Sicilian Baked Eggplant

There are a few people somewhat partial to eggplant in the Napoli household, so I’m often on the lookout for new things to do with it.  I first saw this recipe on Please Pass the Recipe, who in turn saw it on the Dish Magazine website.  I thought it sounded delicious, but I put my own spin on it and did it slightly differently (other versions used honey, capers and yoghurt), so perhaps I should name it Calabrese Baked Eggplant.  This one’s a keeper.

Ingredients
2 large eggplants
12 cherry tomatoes, halved and lightly seasoned
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
30g pine nuts
175g ricotta

To serve
1 cup roughly torn basil
Zest of one lemon

Making it
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking dish with baking paper

Cut the eggplants in half, keeping the stem. Then cut each half into 4-5 slices (will depend on the size of your eggplant), once again keeping the stem intact, and fan out the slices. Lay them on your baking tray.

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Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar and whisk until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Spoon or brush it onto the eggplant, ensuring it gets between the layers. Scatter over the cherry tomoatoes.

Bake for one hour, basting with juices every 15 minutes. I found a pastry brush was the easiest way to do this (there won’t be much juice at the first 15 minute mark). After you do the 30 minute basting, sprinkle over the pine nuts and dot the ricotta over the eggplant and return to the oven.

After an hour, switch off the oven and allow to sit in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the basil and lemon zest. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad. Buonissimo.

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Eggplant and tomato pasta sauce

The original recipe for this appeared on Good Food but I changed the method and ingredients a little to make it ‘piu Italiano’. The vegacquarian Marito loved it; this is a very hearty, robust vegetarian sauce that would convert any meat eater. The quantity of sauce below is enough for at least 8 people, but any excess can be stored in the freezer. You could throw in a whole red chilli during the simmering for a mild infusion of heat, or chop in some chilli for a bigger punch. I used casarecce shaped pasta for this as I thought it would “hold” the sauce well. Rigatoni or any chunky and tubular pasta would also work.

eggplantpasta

Ingredients
125ml olive oil
About 800g eggplant, stalk removed and diced
2 tsp salt
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 x 400g tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
25ml caramelised balsamic
50ml red wine
Grated parmesan to serve (optional)

Making it
1. Heat 100mls of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the eggplant and one teaspoon of salt, then fry over a high heat until golden. Spoon the eggplant onto a plate and set aside.

2. Add the remaining 25mls of olive oil to the pan, add the onion, remaining salt and fry off for 2-3 minutes to allow the onion to soften. Add 200mls of water and simmer until the water evaporates and the onion starts to turn golden.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaves, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes

4. Add the balsamic and wine and simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes. If the sauce seems too thick and it is sticking to the bottom of the pan add about ¾ cup of water, then add back the eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is tender but not collapsed. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Meanwhile cook your favourite pasta, and once cooked, toss through the sauce and serve with grated parmesan if desired

Eggplant croquettes

This is a recipe courtesy of Mr Yotam-I-made-vegetables-sexy-Ottolenghi. But I added some parsley, and substituted his feta for ricotta. Charring the eggplant gives these a lovely smokiness. Makes 20 generous size croquettes.

eggplantcroquettes

Ingredients
4 medium eggplants
2 medium potatoes, cooked, peeled and smashed
1 egg, beaten
150g ricotta, well drained
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups dried white breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
oil for frying

Making them

  1. Char the eggplants on your cooktop on your gas flame, turning frequently until skin is burnt and they are starting to collapse. Once cool, you should be able to easily peel off the skin. Discard skin and place flesh in a colander and leave to drain for 30 minutes
  2. Place eggplant in a large bowl. Add the potatoes, egg, ricotta, parsley, Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Bring everything together gently with a fork. Add 1 cup of the breadcrumbs, just enough so the mix is sufficiently solid to hold its shape but is still a little sticky.
  3. Remove the mix from the bowl and divide it into four. Roll each portion into a thick sausage that is about 1 inch in diameter. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs on your work surface and roll the sausages in them so they are completely coated. Cut each sausage into five pieces, gently shape and transfer to a tray and leave to firm up in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  4. To cook, pour enough frying oil into a frying pan to come about ¾ inch up the sides. Heat up the oil, then fry the croquettes in small batches until golden, turning them over to color evenly. Make sure the oil is always hot but not so hot that it burns the croquettes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.