Eggplant = favorite food. My friend, Jan, shared this delicious recipe with me. I love how simple it is and it’s not as rich as many Moussaka recipes. I only had cheddar cheese on hand when I made it, but it would be great with Feta or other mild cheeses.
I made this dish without rice or yogurt, but enjoyed it with a nice class of red wine from my favorite winery, InVINtions.
2 globe eggplants, peeled and cubed
1/2 pound ground beef (or omit if Vegan/Vegetarian)
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced/diced
2-3 green or sweet peppers, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3-4 petite tomatoes, diced (I used Compari tomatoes)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil for eggplant and another 1/4 cup for sauce
salt and black pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1-2 tablespoons dried parsley)
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 430-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a 8×8″ or 9×9″ baking dish.
Place cubed eggplant in a bowl. Add salt and 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil. Toss and mix well to assure the cubes are covered in olive oil.
Spread the eggplant over a baking sheet, layered with parchment paper. Bake until brown, approximately 20-25 minutes.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pan. Add ground beef and cook thoroughly until it is dry. While cooking, crush the ground beef with the back of a spoon.
Add onion and peppers and cook on medium heat until soft, but not browned.
Add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.
When the tomatoes are cooked (turning darker red), add one cup boiling water.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Place eggplant cubes in baking dish. Top with sauce and mix. (Optional: add sliced tomatoes on top). If using dried parley, sprinkle on top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you want to serve without cheese, sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve.
If using cheese, sprinkle on top, and put back in oven until cheese in melted.
Serve as is or serve hot with rice and Greek yogurt.
Fresh local sweet corn, zucchini from the garden and delicious mushrooms are a wonderful combination for this savory pie. My daughters do not like mushrooms, but another vegetable (roasted peppers, additional corn, etc.) would be just as good. I have served the pie warm and cold and enjoyed them both. This pie is so versatile it could be served for brunch or a light summer supper with a salad or with juicy garden tomatoes.
Sweet Corn & Zucchini Pie
4 tablespoons butter
half of a yellow onion, diced
2 ears sweet corn
2 large zucchini, sliced very thinly (about 4 cups)
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces shredded cheese (I used both Mozzarella)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions, zucchini, and mushrooms. While the veggies saute, cut the corn kernels off the cob. Add them to the pan and continue to saute until the veggies are soft, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Once the mixture has cooled for a few minutes, stir in the basil, oregano, salt, cheese, and the beaten eggs. Line a pie pan (9-inch or larger) with parchment paper or just grease a pan with nonstick spray. Transfer the mixture to the pan. Arrange the top so the zucchini slices lay flat and look nice. Top with a little extra cheese for looks, cover with greased foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes to brown the top. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before cutting into slices.
Late summer harvest is my favorite garden time. The Sungold tomatoes are at their peak, basil is plentiful, and local sweet corn is available. When I saw this recipe, I was hesitant about the apple but it adds a wonderful pop of crunchy flavor. Avocado adds a little bit of heaven in every bite. The dressing makes a large quantity. Add to the salad to taste. You may have enough dressing to make a double batch. I will be making this recipe over and over and over again.
Napa Sweet Corn Salad
2 cups sweet corn kernels, raw (~3 ears) (Note: I cooked the corn then cut off the cob)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
3 small or 2 large green onions, chopped
1 small avocado, chopped
1 red apple, chopped
1/3 cup sliced or chopped almonds
1/4 cup packed fresh basil, chopped
For the Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey (or agave for Vegan recipe)
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Combine ingredients for the Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette in a jar or bowl then shake or whisk to combine. Taste then add up to an additional 1/2 Tablespoon honey if desired – remember that the sweet corn and apple will add natural sweetness to the salad. Set dressing aside.
Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl then drizzle over desired amount of Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette and stir to combine. Serve immediately.
Panzanella, or panmolle, is a Tuscan chopped salad of soaked stale bread, onions and tomatoes. It often includes cucumbers, sometimes basil and is dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy (per Wikipedia). The first time I had this salad, about 10 years ago, I fell in love.
It’s a scrumptious salad, any time of the year, but especially when I have fresh tomatoes from my garden. Fresh, flavorful and healthy!
3 tablespoons good olive oil 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes 1 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes 1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced 20 large, fresh basil leaves 3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 1/2 cup good olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.
Book Club almost always inspires me to try making something new and the Watermelon Heirloom Salad has been on my list of ‘must try’ since my sister-in-law, Betty, told me about it.
I served this in July with tomatoes and watermelon in season. It is a refreshing salad especially during the hot days of summer. The salad was served with the feta on the side since some of our members are Vegan. Easy peasy and satisfies all. What a wonderful fusion of great flavors. It’s now one of my favorite summer treats.
WATERMELON HEIRLOOM SALAD
3 large heirloom tomatoes (about 1.5 pounds), cored and cute into chunks or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (I used multi-color cherry tomatoes)
4 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (I used Champagne vinegar)
juice of 1 lime
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh feta (don’t skimp on the quality of the feta)
1 lime, cut into wedges
Combine the tomatoes, watermelon, mint and basil in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Pour olive oil mixture over the fruit and toss to mix.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
Just before serving, sprinkle the feta over the salad (or on the side). Serve with lime wedges and sea salt.
Cinnamon Basil…who knew there was such a thing. I grew Cinnamon Basil in my garden, not really sure what I would do with it. It truly has a cinnamon essence and is great in salads. I adapted this recipe, adding chopped walnuts and Craisins to add a fruity, crunchy addition to the salad. Next time, I may add a little crumbled goat cheese. Mmmmm.
ARUGULA AND CINNAMON BASIL SALAD
6 cups rocket (arugula)
1 cup cinnamon basil, torn (I used a little less)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Craisins
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 dash salt
Put the dressing ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake well.
Put the rocket, onion, walnuts, Craisins, and basil in a salad bowl and toss, with a little dressing.
Wonderful, yummy Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale is a new favorite. I first enjoyed this soup at a Bunco gathering a few years ago and I asked for the recipe. The source, Pinch of Yum, is a favorite site for my daughters and I and this recipe doesn’t disappoint.
The title says ‘spicy’ but with one chopped jalapeno, it was not hot at all. If you truly want it hot, I would suggest adding 2+ jalapenos. With this batch, I only added the curry powder, but next time I will add the tumeric.
This soup is Vegan and Vegetarian. If you would like protein, adding some shredded chicken would be delicious. It’s fall y’all, and I’m cooking up a soup storm!
SPICY PEANUT SOUP WITH SWEET POTATO & KALE
2 tablespoons olive oil
half an onion, diced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes1
14-ounce can light coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry and/or turmeric
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup peanut butter
1–2 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Saute until soft and fragrant.
Add sweet potatoes. I like to brown them a little bit with the aromatics to get them nice and flavorful.
Add tomatoes, coconut milk, water, spices, and peanuts. Simmer until sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
Add peanut butter and kale. Simmer until everything is thick, creamy, and delicious. Top with more peanuts and a little cilantro if you’re obsessed like me.
Instant Pot: Cook everything except peanut butter and kale on high pressure for about 3 minutes with a quick release. (Sometimes I reduce the liquid when I make it in the Instant Pot by a cup or so, and then just add more as needed when it’s all done. But that is optional – it should work fine either way.) Stir in the peanut butter and kale after cooking. Voila!
Slow Cooker: Cook everything except peanut butter and kale on low for 6 hours. Stir in the peanut butter and kale. Don’t cook the sweet potatoes too long or they’ll fall apart on ya! Just cook until they pierce easily with a fork.
One last note. This recipe is inspired by an amazing West African recipe called maafe, or groundnut soup. I did what I always do and changed/added some ingredients based on what I love and what I had on hand (kale, jalapeño, coconut milk, cilantro, etc.) making it more of a cultural mash-up. That’s why I’m not calling it a proper West African peanut soup even though those are its roots.
Freezer Meal Version
3 cups chopped sweet potatoes, fresh or frozen
2 jalapeños, minced
half of an onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
Instant Pot Instructions: High pressure 8 mins + 10 mins natural release
Slow Cooker Instructions: High setting 6 hours
Final Step: Stir in 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, and 1-2 cups chopped kale. Add water to thin to desired consistency.
Check out our full freezer meal posts with all recipes and instructions here!
Sungold cherry tomatoes have become our family’s favorite tomatoes, eating them off the wine as a treat. They are so sweet and incredibly delicious. Just perfect for Cherry Tomato Jam.
Each year I seem to have an abundance of tomatoes, making salads with them, roasting them with peppers and garlic and much more. Tomato Jam recipes were popping up this year and I decided to try it. It’s so easy and delicious. I haven’t tried to can it because it disappears from the frig long before the expiration date. Serve it on a crusty bread or on top of a soft cheese. I also made a Grilled Cheese with a schmeer of tomato jam. YUMMO!
CHERRY TOMATO JAM
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup) 3 cloves garlic 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 32 ounces (2 lbs.) cherry tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pints) 1/4 cup water 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 large spring thyme 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel or non-reactive pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes until softened.
Add the chili powder and smoked paprika and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes burst and thicken, for about 10-15 minutes. If at any time the pan becomes dry and the tomatoes begin to burn, add a tablespoon or two more of water and reduce the heat a bit more.
Remove from heat and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 10-14 days.
Wild Plums are a new discovery for me. A few weeks ago, I was on a walk with my granddaughter when we saw these pretty purple, red and yellow fruit growing in the open space. I brought a few back to house and identified them. Wild Plums! My daughter and her family walked to open space to pick several pounds of fruit. We were cautiously optimistic and decided to make a trial batch from the few ripe plums. We left the skins on for the trial. It was delicious but and we did not like the texture of the cooked skins.
A week later, the rest of the plums were ripe and we decided to make and can the jam, using a food strainer to remove the skins. My Mom’s trusty food strainer did the trick!
The jam is pretty and tart. I can’t wait to try it on breakfast toast, pancakes, or perhaps with a mild cheese.
Finding these little gems caused interest in the history of the wild plum and how Native Americans and our ancestors may have used them. Wild Plums appear to grow in many states. The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer published an interesting history.
WILD PLUM JAM
5 pounds Wild Plums 5 cups sugar (the original recipe called for 10 cups of sugar) 4.5tablespoonslemon juice
Pit the plums and place them into a thick bottomed pot.
Add in the lemon juice and cook for a few minutes, until the plums begin to release their juices.
Add in sugar and stir. Simmer, stirring often for about 10 minutes.1/2 to compensate for the naturally sweeter fruit.
When the jam thickens, pour the hot jam into a food sieve. Press to remove the juice and pulp. Discard the remaining skins. Put back on heat to assure the jam returns to temperature.
Pour the hot jam into prepared canning jars. At this point, the jam can either be stored in the refrigerator or processed for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
After a 10 minute process, turn off the heat, wait 5 more minutes and then remove the jars from the canner.
Allow the jars to cool, and after 24 hours place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.