Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Garlic-Rosemary Oil

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We’ve started something new here at Sweet and Savory Kitchens – Pasta Wednesdays. The idea is something quick and easy to make on a weeknight without sacrificing freshness and deliciousness. I got the idea when I made the Garlic and Kale Linguine a while back, so technically that could be considered our first Pasta Wednesday post. While this recipe (from last month’s Bon Appetit) isn’t quite as fast, it definitely fits. It caught my eye because I had some Garlic-Rosemary oil in the fridge left over from when I last made this soup. The quantities in that recipe always make more of the oil than we use at the time so I was happy to learn of a good additional use for it. And this is good! This can be a weeknight main dish or you can serve it, as we did, as a side to roast chicken or fish. Delicious with a creamy Italian white wine.

Margaux says…

I’m loving Pasta Wednesdays! Mainly because it helps give me a sort of direction when I’m meal planning for the week. We do Meatless Mondays at my house, so that’s two days now that I have narrowed down a little more. Now maybe I should add a pizza night in there, to make my job even easier…

This dish is fantastic…even my finicky 4-year-old gave it a thumbs up. We ate it as a main dish, with plenty of leftovers (which I love…makes lunches easy!!) I made it with white beans and penne pasta (as seen on Smitten Kitchen…see cook’s notes below). The white beans because that’s what I had on hand, and the penne because that’s what my son chose, and these days I’ll make anything he picks just so he’ll eat what I make for us. I probably would have chosen rotini, because i like the way sauces like this stick to the pasta. It was really great with the white beans, but next time I’m going to try it with the chick peas, which sounds really fantastic.

Use this recipe to make the Garlic-Rosemary Oil

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut in chunks
1 celery stalk, cut in chunks
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10-ounces small pasta shapes (I used Lumachine – see Cook’s Notes)

Place the first 6 ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place into a bowl and clean the food processor bowl. Set both aside. Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can finely chop these ingredients and then blend together in a bowl.

Place the olive oil into a large heavy pot or skillet (I used a saute pan) over medium heat. Once shimmering add the chopped vegetables. Saute for 10 or so minutes, until golden, stirring regularly. Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste into 1 cup of water to blend. When vegetables are cooked, add the tomato water and blend thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, 5-8 minutes.

Creamy Chickpea Sauce

Add the chickpeas and 2 cups water to the pan. Stir to blend and then simmer for 15 minutes covered and 5 or so uncovered. Put 1 cup of this mixture into the food processor and puree. (You could use a blender for this in the absence of a food processor.) Add back to the pan and stir to blend. Taste and add salt, if needed. I did not add salt to the sauce – even with rinsing, there was plenty of salt in the chickpeas.*

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to directions. I emphasize al dente because otherwise I think you could end up with a gloppy mess. Part of the goodness of this dish is mouth appeal, and you do not want to lose that with overcooked pasta! Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining. Add drained pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the chickpea sauce. Stir to blend, adding more pasta water if necessary to coat the pasta and attain a creamy consistency. Pass the Garlic-Rosemary oil so it can be drizzled on individual servings. Don’t hold back on this key component of the finished dish!

COOK’S NOTES: I was looking at Smitten Kitchen the other day and saw something that looked similar to this except with white beans and penne pasta. On closer look, it was her take on the Bon Appetit recipe. (You can check it out to see several great photos of the cooking process.) Regarding the pasta, the original recipe called for a full pound of Ditalini and suggested elbow macaroni as a substitute. I think any small pasta shape would work well. I cooked the whole pound as instructed, but felt that it was way too much pasta and didn’t stir it all into the sauce. I will definitely make this again and try whole wheat pasta, thinking it will add to both taste and texture.

*Margaux’s note on the salt…my boys like their food on the saltier side, so I definitely needed to add more salt. I added about a teaspoon of it.

S’mores Cupcakes

February 8, 2013

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Margaux says…

I got this idea from a pin on Pinterest, where I get most of my baking ideas lately. The recipe that I found was a little more complicated than I was wanting to deal with, so I simplified it by using a one-bowl chocolate cake. The cupcakes were a hit…some even said they were the best I’ve ever made. Yay! I’ve made them twice in the last two months already.

This cake recipe is one of my old stand-bys. I’ve been meaning to post it for ages, but I’m always rushed when I make it, so never take the time to take any photos. This is an updated version of the original that I’ve been baking since I was in college, the original being a recipe from my “Betty Crocker” cookbook, which was my first cookbook. The original recipe just uses chocolate chips, and in a pinch I still do that for ease, thrift and to save time. Also, with the original recipe, you just mix the cake directly in the pan…but I find that its actually easier to mix in a bowl. It’s a great recipe to throw together when you have surprise company coming, or if you suddenly find yourself needing something sweet to eat. I always store excess frosting in the freezer, and use it to top the cake (I’ve used everything from leftover chocolate frosting to leftover orange-cream cheese frosting), or if it’s just a last minute thing that I’ve thrown together, I leave it in the pan and top with powdered sugar. Both ways are delicious. Lastly, the reason I put this recipe in the vegan category is because of the cake…it’s completely vegan (just make sure you’re using vegan chocolate-very easy to find!), and is really great just topped with powdered sugar as a vegan treat. Another way I’ve made it for vegan friends also is by baking it into cupcakes (without the graham cracker crust it makes about 12 cupcakes), and frosting with vegan whipped cream.

S’mores Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can buy them in the baking aisle)
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter, and stir in with graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Line 20 muffin cups with paper liners, and place 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture in each cup, pressing down with a small flat-bottomed cup. Bake for about 5 minutes, until base hardens. Set aside and make cake batter.

Chocolate Cake *see note below

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water, oil and vanilla, and whisk until incorporated completely. Add chocolate and stir until just incorporated. Fill prepared cupcake papers 3/4 full with batter. Should stretch to make about 20 cupcakes. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean of cake batter (it may have a little melted chocolate on it, and that’s ok). Allow to cool for 10 minutes on cooling rack, and then remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely.

Marshmallow Frosting (or 7-minute frosting)

6 large egg whites**
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over medium saucepan of barely simmering water (you can put it in a double boiler, but then you have to transfer it to a mixer bowl, and this way is much easier). Stir the mixture with a whisk, cooking until the sugar has completely melted, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed, adding the vanilla while mixing, for about 7 minutes.

To pipe the frosting: Place pastry bag with tip cut off (or ziplock bag with one corner cut off) in a large glass and fold the sides of the pastry bag over the sides of the glass (if you shop at Trader Joe’s and use their coffee, I’ve found that their coffee containers work perfectly for this!). Fill bag with frosting and pipe onto cupcakes. If you have a kitchen torch, AWESOME! Use it to “toast the marshmallow.” Otherwise, you can do what I did and just sprinkle some extra graham cracker crumbs on top. Voila! S’mores!

*Note about cake: to make a plain chocolate snack cake, prepare an 8×8 square pan or a 9″ round pan by spraying with baking spray with flour, pour batter into pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. You can either leave it in the pan and allow to cool completely, then just serve from the pan, or you can cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and allow to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a simple weeknight dessert, or frost with about a cup of whatever frosting you’d like.

**Note about egg whites: I’m always looking for things to do with my egg yolks, and vice-versa.  You can store yolks in the fridge for up to two days, covered with water.  You can store whites in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze them for a year!  Anyway, here’s an idea for your yolks: meyer lemon bars...I made them, and they’re fantastic!!

 

Garlic and Kale Linguine

January 18, 2013

Garlic and Kale Linguine

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

The basis for this dish is a great recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for classic spaghetti with garlic and olive oil which I made recently.   Last week I saw another recipe for spaghetti and kale with similar ingredients but without the scientific technique of the CI recipe.  Randy and I both agreed that with or without the kale, the CI dish is outstanding.  The kale makes it just that much better and healthier!  This could be a main dish or a side.  Shown is a main dish portion, and we have also served with sauteed boneless/skinless chicken breast.  Either way, an Italian white,  Orivetto or Pinot Grigio, is a great accompaniment!

Makes 4 main dish or 6-8 first course servings

4 garlic cloves, peeled and processed through a garlic pressOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 teaspoon water

1/3 cup high quality EV olive oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional or to taste

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed and cut into ribbons

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted in a skillet

1/2-1 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano (omit for vegan)

3/4-1 pound whole wheat, regular or GF linguine or spaghetti

Place processed garlic in a small bowl and add the teaspoon of water.  Heat the olive oil to a little over medium in a saute pan.  Add the garlic, optional pepper flakes and kale and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until garlic is golden and kale is soft.  Set aside.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat.  Shake the pan regularly and watch carefully so they don’t burn!  At today’s prices especially that would be a shame. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Before draining, save 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta and rinse briefly.  Put the pasta back in the pot it was cooked in and place over medium heat.  Add the reserved kale mixture along with part or all of the pasta water and toss to combine thoroughly.  Heat through, stirring.

Place on individual plates and top with a little cheese, if using, and some pine nuts.  Alternatively, if you will be eating all of what was cooked, you can stir the cheese into the pasta before serving.  Then top with the pine nuts.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

September 4, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I’ve wanted to make oven roasted tomatoes for a couple of years, but never got around to it.  My brother John made some recently which spurred me into taking the plunge.  In addition to asking friends and family for recipes and tips, I looked at several online to get a picture for various approaches.  There are a lot of recipes out there, but with only slight differences in cooking temps, times and methods.  There are two definite camps, however, when it comes to seasoning.  One camp uses only salt and pepper and the other adds herbs and garlic.  So, always one to see for myself and draw conclusions, I made a batch of each.  The results were great in both cases!  I have already used the plain in ratatouille in place of some of the fresh tomatoes, and we had the seasoned ones on pizza last night (yum!).  I look forward to making more while it’s still tomato season and to experimenting further with both types for appetizers and in sauces and pastas.

I used 10 Roma tomatoes in each batch, but you can use as many tomatoes as you’d like and regular garden tomatoes as well as Romas.  My hunch is that if the tomatoes are very juicy,  squeezing out some of the juice would aid in the carmelization, but I can’t say for sure.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375°.  Have handy baking dishes or jelly roll pans.

Plum (or regular) tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters for very large tomatoes)

Olive Oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Optional seasoning:  oregano, thyme, chopped garlic

Place tomatoes, cut side up,  in a baking dish or jelly roll pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Add salt and pepper and seasoning of your choice.  Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, until tomatoes start to carmelize.  Remove from oven, cool slightly and then remove to a platter to cool completely.  Once cooled, remove the skins – they will slip off very easily.  These will keep several days in the fridge or you can freeze using freezer bags or containers.  I hope to freeze a few packs of these because I can picture how fabulous it would be to get a hit of summer in January!

COOK’S NOTES:

Be judicious about the amount of salt.  I used about a teaspoon of kosher salt on the plain tomatoes and felt they were too salty.

I used just oregano and thyme for the seasoned version, but I think rosemary and basil would also be good.

Don’t be daunted by what the pans look like after!  I soaked these for about 30 minutes in very hot water and dish washing liquid and they wiped clean easily – no elbow grease required!  I used a Pyrex dish and a Le Creuset cast iron lasagna pan.  Both worked, but I think the Pyrex had a slight edge in terms of results.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This roasted cauliflower is not only delicious, it’s good for you!  In a prelude to the original recipe, it states “The turmeric, white peppercorns and coriander seeds are beneficial to the respiratory and circulatory systems; the kumquat, with its sour and bitter tastes, warms the chest and eases coughs.”  And I will say that the shallot I used was hot, hot, hot, –  adding to the overall warming effect.  Served with these Indian-spiced chicken burgers, which made for a great meal. A French Pinot Gris was a perfect match for the spices of these two dishes.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

One 3-pound head of cauliflower, cored and separated into 1-inch florets

1 medium shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings

4 kumquats, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and sliced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, spices, salt, garlic and crushed red pepper.

Place the cauliflower on a large foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle the cauliflower with the olive oil mixture and toss to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.  Check and stir after 15 minutes.  Scrape the cauliflower into a serving bowl. Add the sliced shallot, kumquats and cilantro and toss well. Can be served hot, warm or room temperature.

Pappa Al Pomodoro

January 7, 2012

Margaux says…

Happy birthday, Desi! My son is 3 today, and it reminded me of this soup, which I made for his birthday party last year. This year we’re skipping a meal with the party, but I made the soup this week anyway because it was on my mind, and it is SO GOOD!!! This has got to be at least in my top 5 favorite soups, if not number 1. I saw Ina make it on Barefoot Contessa last fall, and have made it SEVERAL times since. It was in the same “bread” episode that I got this recipe, which is also pretty wonderful. Anyway, back to the soup…for one thing, it has fennel in it, which is fast becoming one of my favorite ingredients. If you haven’t tried fennel yet, you must…it adds so much flavor to things! The other awesome thing about this soup is the topping–you have to make that part, because it’s divine. If you’re making the soup vegetarian, it’s no problem, the topping will be just as good without the pancetta (although you may need to add a smidge of olive oil to make up for the lack of grease).

If you’ve never used fennel before, you chop it like you would an onion. First, you need to remove the stalks completely, then cut the bottom off, and then slice it lengthwise. Remove the outer layer, and cut out the core at the bottom. Then lay one half cut-side down on a chopping board, and slice lengthwise into 1/4″ slices. Then slice again crosswise, in about 1/4″ slices. Super easy.

If you have leftover croutons after the soup’s all been eaten up, they also taste great on salads (including the pancetta)!

Make this vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with water, and eliminating the pancetta. Make it vegan by eliminating the parmesan, which I actually did last time I made it and it was just as delicious! I found that one large loaf of ciabatta will work for both the soup and the topping. I don’t remove all the crusts from the bread that I put in the soup, just the toughest bottom part (I have a hard time wasting all that bread!).

Pappa Al Pomodoro

from Barefoot Contessa

1/2 cup good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
1 cup medium-diced carrots, unpeeled (3 carrots)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced (1 1/2 cups)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes, crusts removed
2 (28-ounce) cans good Italian plum tomatoes
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (water for vegetarian)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (eliminate for vegan)

For the topping:
3 cups (1-inch) diced ciabatta cubes
2 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, chopped (eliminate for vegetarian)
24 to 30 whole fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper

Directions
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, basil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the topping, place the ciabatta cubes, pancetta, and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine.

Reheat the soup, if necessary, beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning. Serve hot sprinkled with the topping and drizzled with additional olive oil.

Kristi’s Ratatouille

October 16, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I love stocking my freezer this time of year with goodies made from the abundant produce available.  One of my favorites is ratatouille.  It freezes well and there’s nothing like thawing and heating up a batch in the dead of winter to get a hit of late summer goodness!  I’ve made ratatouille for this purpose for many years, but I wasn’t ever 100% satisfied with the results.  While the flavor was always delicious, the end product was mushier than I like.  A few years ago I was talking with friend Kristi Mattson about making ratatouille – she has a big garden and was also making some for the freezer.  She shared her method of roasting some of the vegetables before putting them in the pot to cook the ratatouille.  This was the solution to getting both outstanding flavor and texture.  The ingredients are the same, but this method makes a big difference!  In addition to serving this as a side dish to grilled salmon or roast/grilled chicken, we love tossing it with pasta with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese!

Ingredients

Olive oil for tossing with each vegetable
5 medium bell peppers, mixed colors, cut in 1-inch squares (I used 2 red, one orange and 2 green)
6-7 small-medium zucchini and/or yellow squash cut in 1-inch cubes
7-8 small-medium eggplants, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil, for sauteing
5 medium onions, cut in 1-inch chunks (I like a mix of red and yellow)
6-10 garlic cloves, minced (depending on size)
20-ish plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped (totaling 4-5 cups after chopping)
1/3-1/2 cup fresh oregano, chopped (I particularly like Greek oregano in this recipe)
2 tbsp fresh lemon thyme
Fresh basil and/or parsley, chopped,  for serving
Salt  and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  You will roast the bell peppers, zucchini/yellow squash and eggplant.  First, toss each vegetable lightly with olive oil and turn into a foil-lined jelly-roll or large roasting pan.  Roast  for about 12-17 min, stirring half-way through.  The vegetables will be done when they are just starting to show a few browned spots.  (I found that I needed 2 pans for the eggplant and 1 pan each for the peppers and zucchini with the above quantities.)  Turn onto a large platter or oblong glass baking dish. Set aside and cool.

In large stockpot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until beginning to brown, about 10 or so min on med-high heat.   Add the garlic, oregano and thyme and sauté until fragrant, about a  minute.   Add the roasted peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and the tomatoes and their juices.  Stir just to combine.

Bring all to a bubble, then turn down heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Take the lid off the pan, turn up heat slightly and simmer, uncovered, for an additional 30-45 minutes, until the liquid reduces.  During this time, check every 10 minutes to make sure the bottom layer is not burning.  Stir a little, but don’t over-stir in order to preserve the shape of each vegetable.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Right before serving, stir in the basil and parsley.   If freezing, omit the basil and parsley step and put in containers and place in the freezer.

When using later after thawing, stir in a gremolata of the following, right before serving.

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh basil and/or parsley, 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, 1-2 finely minced cloves of garlic. Adjust amounts to how much ratatouille you have.  This can be used even when not freezing – it brightens the flavor but is especially fabulous when using frozen/thawed ratatouille.

COOK’S NOTES:  This method is a 3-4 hour project, but is definitely worth the time.  The quantities given made a little under 4 quarts finished product.  This is a recipe where you can definitely adjust the quantities to your taste or need for amounts.

Crunchy Granola

September 4, 2011

Margaux says…

My Aunt Judy makes the most simple and amazing granola ever.  It’s the same recipe she’s been using since the 70’s, and she always has it on hand at her house.  She was my birth doula and came to stay with us for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and the whole time she was with us (which ended up being about a month) she kept our supply stocked. It was so great to have every morning, with fresh fruit and yogurt!  It’s gotten so I can’t even eat store-bought granola anymore, I’ve become such a granola snob.  I try to keep it up, and make a batch as often as possible, but especially in the summer when fruit is in season and tastes oh-so-yummy with this salty sweet crunchy goodness.

Crunchy Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ or flax seed meal
1 cup large flake unsweetened coconut
1 cup cashews (or whatever nut you prefer)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins (optional…I do this in the winter when I eat it with milk instead of fresh fruit and yogurt)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey (or agave syrup)
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp table salt
2 tbsp real maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, minus the salt. Mix together honey, water, oil, salt and maple syrup. Pour over cereal and mix well. Bake in large jellyroll pan at 300 F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan, then pour into an airtight container.

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

For all you eggplant lovers out there, this is one tasty dish!  And young, tender eggplants are everywhere in the farmer’s markets right now.  The original recipe for this called for the elongated Italian ones, which we don’t see typically in our markets.  I have used small globe eggplants in the past and this time I used the long slender Japanese variety.  Both have worked well.  While this recipe calls for cheese, it can easily be omitted with equally delicious results.  Serve with a salad, baguette and white or red Italian wine, and you’re all set for a great late summer meal.

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, medium dice

8 large cloves garlic, sliced

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

pinch of sugar

4 medium globe or 6-7 Japanese eggplants, totaling about 2 pounds or so (2-3 Italian eggplants if you find them)

1/3 cup each chopped fresh mint, basil and flat-leaf parsley

3-4 ounces fontina or provolone cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick and cut into pieces

Prepare the eggplants by first rolling them on a flat surface to soften the insides.  Cut slits in the eggplants.  These will naturally be shallower with the Japanese variety and should be a couple of inches deep in the globe or Italian eggplants.  Stuff the slits with half of the garlic slices and pieces of the cheese. Work to close the slits and set aside.

To prepare the braising mixture, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or Dutch oven.  Add the onion and cook, covered, for 5 minutes until it softens.  Add the half the garlic and cook another 2 minutes until the onion starts to brown a little.  Add the tomatoes, chile flakes and sugar and cook, covered for about 5 minutes. Place the prepared eggplants on top of the tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with half the herbs.

Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the eggplants, cover the pot and braise for 60-90 minutes depending on how big around the eggplants are.  Check every 30 minutes and baste the eggplants with the tomato gravy.  They are done when very soft but not falling apart.  Remove the eggplants to a platter.  The sauce should be moderately thick, so if it’s watery, turn up the heat and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened. Stir in remaining herbs. Return eggplants to sauce and heat briefly before serving.

I always cook an amount that will result in leftovers because this is great served with pasta as a second meal.  Just cut up the eggplants, heat in the sauce and then toss with your favorite small pasta shapes.  Serve with or without grated Parmesan or Romano.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I’ve been wanting to make a kohlrabi salad ever since seeing a recipe on a blog last year.  I recently bought a beautiful kohlrabi – something I’ve never eaten nor cooked with –  at the farmers’ market and came home to find this recipe in the Wall St Journal Saturday “Off Duty” section.  It looked even better than the one that inspired me to buy the kohlrabi!  We really enjoyed the sweetness and juiciness the kohlrabi added to this slaw.  It’s a perfect accompaniment to something grilled, shown above with grilled salmon and our spring farmers market potato salad.  Note that for a salad like this, all quantities are subject to your taste!

Slaw Ingredients

1/2 medium green cabbage, cored and shredded (about 2 cups)

1 green or purple kohlrabi, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 red onion, cut in half moons (about 1/3 cup)

Quarter and core the cabbage, then cut in thin strips.  Peel the kohlrabi and shred on the big holes of a box grater.  Place both in a colander and add the salt.  Place the colander over a bowl, cover with a towel and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to expel excess moisture.

Herb Dressing Ingredients

1/4 cup EV olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 cloves crushed garlic

1 tablespoon minced shallot

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped

1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

Salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk the olive oil, mustard and lemon juice in a bowl until slightly emulsified.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to blend.

Assembling the Slaw

Squeeze any excess moisture from the cabbage-kohlrabi mixture.  Place in a large salad bowl and toss with the red onion.  Add the herb dressing and toss to thoroughly blend all ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt, black pepper or lemon juice as necessary.