Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dinner ideas-old or refurbished (simple roasted veggies)

Pre-roasted vegetables. All dressed up with Olive Oil, Rosemary, Sea Salt, and Thyme. Heat for 45 minutes at 400* Stir occasionally.

It is always a joy for me to hear that someone has tried a recipe or learned a new food trick from this blog. My hope is that for those who know me personally, this blog will be a glimpse into my life and a way to stay connected, and for those whom I don't know, an opportunity to become more acquainted. For both these groups, my hope is to introduce some new foods, simplify home "whole- food" cooking, and to inspire creativity in the kitchen. This blog inspires me everyday.

Sometimes a little inspiration doesn't necessarily mean big elaborate meals, or unique new ingredients. Perhaps it is to make something that you have made many times before but not for a while, something you've forgotten about; or maybe it is to put a new twist on, what is for you, an old classic. When I am having trouble deciding what I want to eat or what I want to make, I usually pay attention to what part of the world I would like my flavors coming from. When I think eggplant, I could be heading on the Mediterranean train, or going to the Middle East. Coconuts can take me to Costa Rica or Thailand. If you start here, and stock up with a few essential seasonings, grains, oils, condiments, and canned goods, you will be prepared to touch on any flavor and make any dish a restaurant has to offer, look like a waste of time a money.

An old classic for dinner, lunch, or snack is the roasted vegetables. I think this is something that is so simple people forget about it completely. Either that or they rely heavely on routine roasted veggies, and for those people more power to you! Roasted veggies can be on the sweet or savory side. For those who battle real sugar cravings, I always suggest airing their roasted vegetables on the sweet side (by increasing your sweet vegetable intake you can overcome nagging sweet cravings). Using cinnamon and nutmeg to draw out the sweet flavors. Personally I love them savory, they taste very sweet to me this way as well. Usually when I roast vegetables, they are meant to occompany anything I am making, but most of the time do not make it to dinner. We eat them hot out of the oven and baking dish, Chop usually dons his with ketchup, I like them as is.

Never stood a chance.

And speaking of eggplant and roasted vegetables...every shopping trip I make I buy an eggplant. I have mentioned its use many times before. It takes about 5 minutes to peel and prepare an eggplant for roasting, about 15 minutes in the oven at 40o degrees, and the flavor and texture is unbeatable for many dishes. Here is one simple use of roasted eggplant, this is something you would get at a fancy mediterranean deli, pay $8-10 for and completely drool over, why not make it at home. Go ahead, treat yourself.

Skin and roast your eggplant (drizzle pan with olive oil, lay out plant, sprinkle with sea salt, 15 minutes/400*)
Heat bread in still hot oven with parmesan slices on one side (I used ww rosemary loaf, oh my) Spread other side with pesto (this is pesto season, I know you all have your fridge stocked with it)
Slice tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce

Put the sandwich together yo.

Don't forget to sweat your eggplant. If it is very fresh, you probably won't need to, but if it has been sitting for a while you will want to draw out the bitter flavors with sea salt. I slice it and put it in a colander as seen above, then sprinkle it with sea salt and leave it. Chefs (like the real deal) will do this for an hour or hours. I leave it for about 15-30 minutes. You will see sweat bead up on the surface (that is the bitterness leaving, if only people were so simple.) I then quickly rinse it in cold water (eggplant is another one of those spongy, don't want to get too wet, vegetables) and it is ready to roast!


Madeline Rains said...

Do you peel the eggplant due to taste or other reasons? I've never peeled it. I have to try that sandwich!

persephone said...

I started peeling it because the eggplant I had available wasn't organic. Now I peel it because when i contemplate leaving the skin on, I am afraid I won't like it. Too tough or stringy. I just love my eggplant too much to risk it!