I found two nice Eggplants in my garden today so that’s what’s for dinner tonight. In our house there is nothing as good as eggplant Parm, but there is also nothing more fattening. So in a spirit of a healthier version I made up this recipe. I pre-baked all the vegetables separately so I could coax the best flavor from each. I left out tomatoes sauce because it has too much sugar and I greatly reduced the cheese. Since I was not frying the eggplant I added a few sliced potatoes for structure and Pesto to get a big flavor.
2 big eggplants sliced into ½ inch rounds
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes sliced very thinly with the skins on
4 tomatoes sliced
2 large yellow onions sliced thinly and caramelized (recipe follows)
1 cup of basil pesto
2/3 cup of mozzarella and Parmesan – any proportions you want
Make the caramelized onions.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a couple of jellyroll pans with foil and spray with pam. Put a cooling rack on one pan and layer the eggplant on the rack. Spray with Pam and place in oven and cook until the eggplant is browned, about 30 minutes. On another pan layer the tomatoes and spray with Pam, salt and pepper and place them in the oven, cook until the water cooks out of the tomatoes, about 30 minutes. On a third pan layer the potatoes and spray them with Pam, salt and pepper and place in the oven, cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Once you have cooked all the parts spray an oblong shallow pan with pam. Place a layer of half the potatoes down, followed by all the caramelized onions, and half the Pesto. Place a layer of half the eggplant, and start again with the potatoes, pesto, eggplant and end with the tomatoes. Sprinkle cheese on top and place the whole thing back in the oven and bake about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted. Good served hot or at room temp.
Caramelized Onions – master recipe
Caramelized onions are one of the truly great low calorie foods. I make big pans of them and then divide them up into smaller portions and freeze them.
They can be used to top a turkey burger that is just a little bland, or put in a sandwich to add some depth of flavor. Added to tomato soup, even canned, they will make your mouth so happy.
They are easy to make, but still take a little time. Always cut more onions than you think you will need they cook down to less than ¼ their original volume.
Slice onions. Spray Pam in a large frying pan and put onions in it. Place on medium low heat on stove. Cook low and slow, stirring every so often. After about 20 minutes the onions should start to get golden brown. Don’t try and get there faster by making the heat higher. The low and slow develops the onions natural sugar. When they get to the color in the picture sprinkle a tiny amount of sugar on top and stir. Continue cooking about 5 more minutes until they get brown. Putting the sugar on too soon will make them burn. Salt to taste when done.
Use them on everything. I love them in salads, mixed in eggs or in a grilled cheese, but that’s not very figure friendly.
My first disclaimer is that I don’t have too many tomatoes despite the beautiful plants I have. There are a bunch of stupid squirrels who come and eat a bite out of each tomato and after deciding they don’t like that one they move on to the next one to see if it is better. UGH!! My next recipe might be low fat squirrel stew if I could just catch one.
Anyway, this is an easy soup that is good hot or cold. It really is easy if you have a stick blender. You can use a regular blender or food processor, but go to Target and get a stick blender and you will have so much less washing up to do because of it.
I am going to give you the recipe in a ratio so you can make any amount you want. The base recipe is enough for about two servings so at least double it.
1 big yellow onion – peeled and quartered
2 Tomatoes – stemmed and quartered
2 Carrots – peeled
1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
1 T. Pesto
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400º. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray with pam. Put the onions and the carrots on the foil and place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pan and continue cooking in the oven for 45 more minutes.
Dump all the vegetables from the pan into a stockpot and add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Using a stick blender, whirl everything up until pureed or pour everything in a blend and let it do its thing. Add the pesto and salt and pepper to taste. Summer in a cup and hardly a calorie in sight.
Glad I was able to get all my grilling done for this yummy salad before the thunderstorms came. This is a wonderful way to use any vegetable you like. I used as many different things from my garden as I could and it was delicious. I think it made enough to feed six people as a main course.
1 ½ lb. large peeled and deveined raw shrimp
1 T. olive oil
3 ears of corn
2 zucchini – sliced the long way into ½ planks
1 red onion sliced into ½ inch rounds
4 different peppers- one sweet green, 2 mild banana, one Anaheim and one Poblano- cut in half and seeded
1 c. cherry tomatoes- halved
1 lemon – halved
1 t. white wine vinegar
2 T. pesto base- recipe follows
Salt and Pepper
Heat the grill to high and spray with Pam. Put the corn, onions, peppers, zucchini and lemon cut side down on the grill. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the corn a quarter turn and flip the peppers. Close the cover and cook another 3 minutes. Once the zucchini and onions get grill marks flip them. Turn the corn again.
The peppers will cook fastest. One they are soft, remove them. You don’t want to cook everything too much, just until soft.
The lemon will be the next thing to come off, then the zucchini, onions and last the corn. Let everything cool enough so you can handle it. After it has cooled chop the peppers, onions and zucchini into ½ inch chunks. Cut the corn off the cob and put it all in a bowl.
Turn the grill down to medium. Cover the shrimp in olive oil and place on grill in ne layer. As soon as you get them all down turn them over and cook for no more then a minute. They will get pink very quickly; as soon as each side is pink remove them. There is nothing worse than over cooked shrimp.
Squeeze the grilled lemon on the shrimp and add the pesto base to them. Toss them together with the grilled vegetables and add the cherry tomatoes and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
When my garden is producing an over abundance of basil I make this base of a pesto sauce and freeze it. If I want to add pine nuts and Parmesan cheese I can thaw a puck of base and add those things. But I also like to have just the base to add to recipes that use basil and garlic.
3 cups of Basil leaves- packed
7 cloves of garlic
1 T. olive oil
Put the garlic in a cuisine art and pulse until minced. Add the basil and olive oil and pulse until paste like.
The last few years pine nuts have been way out of sight price wise. I don’t know if the whole Italian economy was propped up on pine nut futures, but I felt that $40 a pound was just too much to pay. So today when I noticed that my basil crop was in need of a good harvesting I decided to make half a pesto.
What is half a Pesto? I just wanted to chop the Basil with very little olive oil and lots of garlic. My thinking behind this is I can use that as a base and add what ever I want at the time of using it. Tonight I roasted corn on the grill and spread the partial pesto on each ear and then sprinkled Parmesan over each ear. The only part of traditional pesto that was left out were the pine nuts. We did not miss them a bit.
2 T. olive oil
150 basil leaves
7 cloves of Garlic
Put the oil and the garlic in the cuisineart and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the basil and run the machine until the basil is finely minced. This will make about a cup of Pesto Base. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze it in for up to a year.
1 T. of Parmesan Cheese for each ear of corn
Corn – You may want more than one ear per person
Heat the grill on high. Husk corn, and wet the ear. Place on grill and closed lid. Cook for 8 mins. Until grill marks start to blacken the kernels. Roll the corn ¼ turn and close the lid and cook another 3 minutes. Repeat until the whole ear has been rotated all the way around.
When you remove the corn from the grill, brush with the pesto base and sprinkle cheese all over and enjoy!
The Garden is in full squash production. Here is a great way to use the zucchini you should have picked two days ago, but you did not see them under that giant leaf until they got just so big.
4 large zucchini – or six smaller ones
2 15 Oz. cans stewed tomatoes
1 large sweet onion chopped
2 T. Pesto – or 20 basil leaves chopped, and 2 cloves of garlic minced
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Pam (of course)
Preheat the oven to 425º
In a saucepan put the tomatoes and the onion and bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer and cook until the onion is translucent, about 20 minutes.
Cut the ends of the Zucchini and slice them down the center lengthwise. Scoop the seeded middle out of the squash digging it out as an American Indian would have dug out a wooded canoe.
When the tomatoes are done remove the pan from the heat and add the pesto and the Parmesan cheese and mix well.
Spray an oblong pan with Pam. Fill each zucchini canoe with the tomato mixture and place in oblong pan. After you have filled all the zucchini sprinkle salt and pepper on each one.
Add a cup of water to the pan without pouring on the zucchini canoes. Cover the pan with foil, sealing it as best you can.
Carefully place in the oven so as not to make the canoes float around and turn upside down.
Cook for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. The zucchini should be fork tender.
4 servings as a main dish or 8 as a side dish