Italian food is so dear to my heart. I love the taste and flavours but mostly I love the stories, memories and family comforts it brings. I grew up with my Nonnas cooking the Italian favourites whenever we would go to visit and as I get older the nostalgia becomes so much more important. It resonates with more than just eating, if you have ever had the pleasure of eating at an Italian family feast you will know exactly what I mean.
I love the fact that food brings life around the table and Italian food is the epitome of this. The love and time that is put into cooking and serving the most satisfying plate of pure home cooked food is evident with the smiles and loud chatter that evolves just by enjoying this type of food.
Continue reading “Italian Stuffed Eggplants”
Continuing to use up the endless amounts of basil leaves it was sauce making time and the last of the sister in-laws eggplants. I decided to make the family classic eggplant parmigiana.
Continue reading “Italian Eggplant Parmigiana”
Yes it’s actually a thing I googled it! Really just meaning mini pizzas with eggplant as the base which can be eaten as a appetiser, snack or with antipasto.
With my influx of basil pesto in the house and the family eggplant delivery I received from my sister-in-law the other day I was eager to use them both. I was making a traditional eggplant parmigiana for dinner and had some eggplant left over so I decided to bake some extra thick cut slices with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of oregano in the oven for 15-20mins until was just cooked through without being mushy.
Continue reading “Eggplant Pizzettes”
One thing I have been mad about lately is the spice turmeric. There has been a lot of chat about this golden spice in recent times for its wonderful medicinal health benefits. Even though the Indian & Asian culture has been using it to flavour and colour their curries and traditional dishes for centuries the western culture has finally caught on to the many wonderful benefits it contains including anti-inflammatory properties, cancer prevention, improves brain function, prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease, helps with arthritis pain, and also has proven benefits to help against depression.
But how do we use it?
Well apart from the usual use in curries and indian/asian dishes I like to use it to flavour all sorts of vegetables such as baked cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potatoes anything really it gives it a subtle spiced flavour without being too over powering. I also add a couple tablespoons to my polenta coating to make these eggplant chips and wow did it come out delicious. You can either buy the powder or use fresh turmeric peel it and grate a 5cm piece, warning though can no will stain your hands, chopping boards and well anything it comes in contact with so if this bothers you use kitchen gloves and be careful in the preparation.
I served them with a Turmeric Garlic Aioli and well I have to say I am now turmeric obsessed! So hopefully in the future I’ll be an elderly woman still happy, fit and active with all my heart, joints and marbles in check. This definitely fits the saying “A teaspoon a day will keep the doctor away!”
Turmeric Spiced Polenta Eggplant Chips with Turmeric Garlic Aioli
1 large eggplant cut into thick chips
1 1/2 cups polenta (cornmeal)
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric powder or 5 cm piece fresh peeled and grated turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 eggs whisked
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 200’C
- Place Polenta and spices and seasonings in a medium bowl. Place whisked eggs in a separate bowl
- Coat the eggplant chips first in the egg then into the polenta mix making sure to generously coat them evenly
- Place eggplants on a lined baking tray drizzle with olive oil
- Bake in oven for 15mins then turn over and cook for further 10-15mins until golden and soft in the centre.
- Serve with Turmeric Garlic Aioli
Notes: Can be served as a starter or as a side with your favourite protein meat or fish.
As a child eggplants were my nemesis, I hated them along with a lot of vegetables to be honest. I was quite a fussy eater to my mothers dismay, though from my love of cooking I’ve learnt to love them and enjoy eating most vegetables. Experimenting with different flavours and what works with what definitely makes a difference in how you enjoy them. The art and technique of cooking is quite intriguing and over time my love has turned into skills, making cooking and experimenting come more naturally.
Eggplants need to be salted to extract the bitterness especially the bigger varieties. The smaller varieties are sweeter so no need to do this process. Slice, cut or dice eggplant according to how you will be cooking them and generously salt them in a colander. This process will draw out any bitterness, make sure you leave it sit for 10mins or so and leave it over a sink or bowl as it draws out in liquid. Then rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel quite well.
There are many ways to cook eggplant though my favourite is stuffing them. Different cultures use different ingredients and herbs and spices. Italians use mostly minced meat with tomatoes and fresh herbs such as oregano. Middle Eastern cultures use more fragrant spices with rice, currents and nuts while the Greeks use Lamb mince with fetta.
My recipe is a mixture of brown rice, chilli, tomatoes and some fresh herbs and spices such as cumin and sweet paprika. I love the addition of fetta to give it an extra salty cheesy flavour. You can always omit the fetta for a total vegan dish.
I served them with some scattered slithered almond and natural yoghurt. Shared this dish with a side salad and it was an utterly delicious and for-filling vegetarian meal.
Brown Rice & Fetta Stuffed Eggplants
A vegetarian Eggplant dish that is packed with flavour and the goodness of wholegrain brown rice
2 large eggplants cut in half lengthways
200g brown microwave rice
2 tbs olive oil
1 small onion diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1/4 red capsicum diced
1 red chilli sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tb oregano
2 tb fresh parsley or mint
1 small tomato diced
2 tbs tomato paste
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
50g fetta cheese
small handful slithered almonds
natural yoghurt to serve
- Preheat oven 200’C fan forced
- Salt eggplant generously in a colander and leave to drain for 10 mins. Rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
- With a spoon scoop out the inside flesh of the eggplants leaving a 1cm edge around the eggplant. Set the scooped eggplant aside to use later.
- Cook rice per microwave instructions
- In a large pan on high heat add 2 tbs olive oil, onion and garlic and saute for 1-2 mins until onion has softened.
- Add capsicum, chilli, cumin, sweet paprika, tomato, oregano, parsley, tomato paste and water and cooked rice and stir to combine. Turn heat down to medium low and cook for 3-4mins until wter has absorbed. Season with Salt and Pepper.
- Place each eggplant halves in foil and place in a baking dish
- Fill the eggplants with the rice mixture, top with fetta and wrap the foil over each of the eggplants to cover them completely.
- Cook in the oven for 30mins
- Uncover the foil so tops are exposed and cook for a further 5-10 mins until rice has browned and eggplant is cooked through.
- Top with slithered almonds and side of natural yoghurt.