Archive for January 12th, 2009

Eggplant and Orzo Casserole with Ricotta

Last week was orzo week, this week seems to be pine nuts week.  This recipe bridges the gap.  It was Teh Yum.  (Once, naturally, I’d tripled the salt.)

Saute in a large skillet with EVOO 3-5 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown:

1 medium onion, chopped

2 leeks, chopped (white parts only)

1 large eggplant, cubed

1 large red bell pepper

Add to a 9×13 baking dish along with:

2 large chopped tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 lb par-cooked orzo

1/2 c chopped fresh basil

1/2 c tomato juice

SALT & PEPPER

Top with dollops of ricotta cheese.  Then top THAT with a mixture of 1/2 cup each pine nuts, bread crumbs, and grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 375F for about 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

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There’s not a lot too this dish – pasta, vegetables, cheese.  But it’s got a good balance of ingredients, and was a nice twist on some familiar flavors.  Oh, and top each individual serving with some fresh chopped parsley.

Dylan Report: He mostly ate around the vegetables (in spite of happily snacking on some of the fresh chopped tomato while I was cooking), but otherwise this was a big hit.  It’s pasta and cheese – hard to go wrong!

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Lentil & Mushroom "Tagine"

Not much that’s “tagine” ish about this, really, except that we ate it over couscous.  The hot sauce should have been harissa, but was sriracha instead (it’s what I keep on hand).  The original recipe called for this to go in a dutch oven, I made it in the slow cooker instead.

In the food processor, make a mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) and pulse until chopped fine (not pureed).  Also chop a couple of red bell peppers, 16 oz button or cremini mushrooms, and a few cloves of garlic.  Add to the slow cooker pot along with 16 oz additional sliced assorted wild mushrooms (I buy mine presliced).  Spicing: 2 tbsp tomato paste, 2 tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp fennel seed, salt/pepper.  Also add 1.5 cups of water, 2 cups dried lentils, 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes.  Slow cook on high 3-4 hours or until lentils are tender.  In the last hour of cooking, add 3 sliced red/yellow/orange bell peppers.

Just before serving, stir in 1 lb fresh baby spinach and 1 tbsp grated lemon zest.  Serve over couscous with a spritz of hot sauce.

I was apprehensive about this dish when I tasted it halfway through cooking, but it actually turned out pretty well.  To be honest, it was a little too healthy for my taste.  I generally like my lentils with a little more bacon.  (ALL the recipes in this book need more salt than is called for.  It’s so much easier to eat large amounts of vegetables when they’re properly seasoned!)

I was a flake yesterday and did not take a picture of this.

Dylan Report: He didn’t hate it, didn’t love it.  I was very proud of him for being willing to try such an unfamiliar food.  And go figure – he preferred the stuff off Mommy’s plate with the hot sauce in it to his own mild version.

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