Category Archives: Vegetarian

Crispy Fried Eggplant and Mozzarella Finger Sandwiches

I am sorry to say that most of these pictures are slightly out of focus. Our camera has a mind of it’s own sometimes and I just couldn’t get it to agree with me when I was cooking today. I was also running around the kitchen, cooking and trying to take pictures all at the same time. I apologize in advance, but hopefully that won’t deter you from enjoying this recipe!

Believe it or not, I found this recipe in a Suzanne Somer’s book several years ago. It has been a while since I made it, but I had a bunch of little eggplants and some fresh mozzarella in the fridge so I gave it a go.

These guys were little.  I got them from a farmer’s market (this is about half of what I got for $2.50).

The first step was to slice up the eggplant and roast the slices in the oven for about 20 minutes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

While the eggplant was cooking, I made the herb spread (aka pesto), which was comprised of garlic, basil, oregano (which I substituted for parsley), red pepper flakes, and olive oil. I used the bullet for this.

I also prepped my work station for the next steps of the recipe. I used fresh mozzarella for the sandwiches, but if you don’t have any on hand you can use shredded or sliced. There is something about the way fresh mozzarella melts though that makes it extra special, so I definitely recommend it for this dish.

After assembling the sandwiches, the next step is to dip them in egg and coat them with grated cheese. So I prepped my egg dip and cheese for that as well.

Now for the sandwich assembly…

Basically all you do is take a slice of eggplant and spoon the herb spread over it. Add the mozzarella and then put a second slice of eggplant on top. Easy peasy.

Next, dip the sandwich into the egg and then roll it around in the grated cheese to coat.

Once you have all of your sandwiches coated it’s time to fry ’em up. They just need a couple minutes per side. Enough time for the cheese in the center to melt and for the eggplant to turn a nice golden brown.

When they are done place them onto a paper towel covered plate to drain any excess oil. Serve ’em up nice and hot and feel free to add any fillings you like. I’ve added roasted red peppers before, for example. They are also good served with marinara sauce on the side for dipping if you’d like.

Yum! These are so good!

Recipe for Crispy Fried Eggplant and Mozzarella Finger Sandwiches

-Eileen

Tomato Panzanella Salad

Greg and I were invited to a family BBQ and knew we wanted to bring something good for a side dish. We remembered a great dish that Ash brought over one time, tomato panzanella salad, and decided it would be the perfect thing to make. You can find the recipe here on Ash’s site (I didn’t alter it much as you will see).

We bought the tomatoes at a local farmer’s market. Obviously for this dish the quality of the tomatoes can make or break it. I was so happy to get these tomatoes. As imperfect as they look, they tasted great!

I cut the tomatoes and added some thinly sliced red onion. I actually completed this step the night before the BBQ, as I knew I would be facing some time restrictions the following day.

Similar to the importance of using good tomatoes for this dish, the quality of the bread is also something to be mindful of. We picked up a french baguette from our favorite place on Earth, Pittsburgh’s strip district (wahoo!), the day before the BBQ. On the day of the BBQ I cut the bread into bite-sized cubes (slightly larger than croutons) and baked them for 20 minutes. 20 minutes was about 2-3 minutes too long and some of the pieces were a little too baked for my liking. I recommend keeping an eye on them after the 15 minute mark.

Sorry for the blurry pic! You can get a sense of the size though.

While the bread was baking I assembled the rest of the dish by adding fresh basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to the tomatoes and red onion.

I just love all the colors in this dish!

Once the bread is done baking it gets added to the salad. You want it to absorb moisture from the dressing and tomatoes while still maintaining some of it’s crunch.

The final step in making this salad is to top it with ricotta cheese and a little olive oil. Since we were transporting this dish to another house I felt it would be best to keep the ricotta and olive oil in a separate container prior to serving. Before dinner was served the ricotta was placed on top of the salad.

Overall, this was a true crowd pleaser! I received several compliments on the dish and answered some questions about it too. People seemed to really enjoy it and want to recreate it themselves.

Take advantage of the Summer tomatoes while they last! Hope you like this one.

-Eileen 8)

Eggplant “lasagna”

This one’s for you Jeremy! I decided to make a pasta-less lasagna to please one of our biggest supporters, who had requested a lasagna recipe. Just for the record, this recipe could easily be duplicated with actual lasagna noodles in place of the eggplant. Though, I have to say this is a nice alternative if you like eggplant like me. In the past I have sometimes struggled to make tasty eggplant dishes at home, as sometimes the eggplant can be bitter, the skin off-putting, and the seeds crunchy and irritating. Since I like eggplant so much though, I have continued to try to make it and feel that this dish was a success.

I began by slicing the eggplant as thin as I could. I worked with a sharp knife and took my time. A mandolin probably would have worked a lot better in terms of getting consistency in thickness, but I don’t have one of those so I did the best I could.

I placed the eggplant slices on racks (two from my toaster oven) and the remaining pieces on a paper towel. I generously covered them in kosher salt and let them sit for about an hour.

The salt pulls out the bitter juices (remember what salt does to cells? wahoo, high school chemistry!), which I rinsed off along with the salt.

Next, I wanted to cook the eggplant a little bit so it wouldn’t make the dish too soupy. I used a grill pan, which I coated generously with olive oil so the slices wouldn’t stick. I seasoned about 1/2 of the slices with salt and pepper as they cooked. They only needed about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. This left some beautiful grill marks!

I also grilled up some baby bellas for some extra filler and added veggie-ness.

As the grilling went on, I also made my ricotta filling. I LOVE ricotta and always use it when making lasagna. Some people have told me about using cottage cheese, but I’ve never tried it. I usually buy part-skim ricotta and it’s delicious. To the ricotta, I added an egg, some fresh garlic and parsley, salt and pepper and some chili flakes for a little kick.

Alright. Now it’s time to assemble the lasagna. If you want to go the traditional route using lasagna noodles, cook the noodles according to the directions on the box. In this recipe when you see eggplant slices, substitute that for the lasagna noodles. Easy as pie.

Step 1: Layer the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce. I used the leftover marinara that I made several weeks ago, but store bought is fine too.

Step 2: On top of the sauce, create a layer of eggplant slices.

Step 3: Ricotta layer. Spread ricotta mixture all over eggplant slices, creating a thick layer.

Step 4: I threw the mushrooms on at this point. If you wanted to add meat or other veggies, you could add them here.

Step 5: Add another layer of eggplant slices.

Step 6: Add another layer of sauce.

Step 7: And then a layer of cheese.

That’s about it for the assembly of it

After it bakes it’s all cheesy/melty/gooey so let it sit before cutting it.

I couldn’t wait that long, so it was a little goopey, but still delicious!

Recipe for eggplant “lasagna”

Recipe for our basic marinara