Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Eggplant Rollatini

I'm way behind on my posts, but I'm still here cooking and taking pictures. I made one of Jeff's favorites on Valentine's day, Eggplant Rollatini with Corn Bread Stuffing from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This is a book I turn to again and again, not just for recipes, but for detailed information on how to store, handle, and prepare vegetables. I should warn you that there is a whole section on cheese, and that Madison states that she is an occasional meat eater. But in any case, this book served as my biggest help in the kitchen when I went veg. I served the Rollatini with a red wine tomato sauce from the same book. The sauce is so rich and good, and it's character changes depending on which wine you choose to use.

Eggplant Rollatini with Corn Bread Stuffing

This Rollatini is not difficult to make, but is rather time consuming with making the cornbread, then the stuffing and the sauce, salting and cooking the eggplant, stuffing the eggplant, and then baking your final Rollatini. The flavors are so wonderful that it is well worth the time it takes.

Start with 2 large eggplants. Slice them lengthwise no thicker than 1/3 inch, salt and let sit for an hour, then rinse and blot dry. Meanwhile start on the stuffing and the sauce.

For the stuffing, fix your favorite cornbread (preferably not a sweet one). Then chop and saute an onion with 1 tsp. dried sage and 1/2 tsp. dried oregano. When the onion is soft and a little brown mix in 2 cups crumbled corn bread and just a tiny bit of liquid (water, soymilk, whatever) to help moisten it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the sauce saute two small grated onions with bay leaf, thyme, oregano, savory, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir often for about fifteen minutes, adding 3 minced garlic cloves near the end. Add 1 cup of red wine and 1/2 cup water, raise the heat and simmer till reduced by half. Add a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes and salt to taste. Simmer till sauce has thickened.

Brush the eggplant slices with oil and bake, fry, broil or grill them till tender. Then roll each slice around about 2 tbsp. of the stuffing and put seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish. You could secure them with a toothpick if they want to unroll. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with the sauce and fresh basil.

Closeup of the goodness

And a big thanks to Jenn The Leftover Queen who hosts the Foodie Blog Roll (see my side bar) for promoting Veg blogs (mine included!) in her most recent Finest Foodies Friday post. She is putting out the call for more Veg bloggers to join the Blog Roll, so if that interests you, do it!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

White Bean, Tomato and Pasta Soup with Herbed Focaccia

It's been rainy and cold here, so I have been craving soup. Sometimes I use a recipe, but what I love about soup is how easy it is to improvise. For this soup I started out by sauteing some onion, celery, carrot, parsley, and garlic in olive oil. When the vegetables were soft I added a little red wine. Then I added vegetable stock, a large can of crushed tomatoes, and dried thyme and rosemary. We were trying to clean out the fridge, so a little spicy salsa went in as well; not in my original plans, but it worked nicely. I added some great northern beans that I had cooked earlier in the pressure cooker and let it all simmer for twenty minutes or so. Then I threw a few handfuls of rice pasta twists into the pot, and continued to simmer until the pasta was tender. I also added some fresh basil a minute before I took the soup off of the heat. A little sea salt and it was ready.

I also made herbed focaccia, and I was excited to find another use for my lavender here. I just added some in with the other dried herbs. I used thyme, rosemary, and the lavender. It tasted great, and really went well with the strong tomato flavor of the soup.

And finally, here's a picture of Nutmeg taste testing the fresh herbs. She was getting a bit cranky after several posts without any pictures of her. She kept looking at me like...hello! RABBIT food?!