Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Confessions of a Veggie Lover

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You would think that someone who writes about vegetables and explores what vegetables can do would love all veggies and all aspects of them. Not so much for me. I've tried, but there are some things that I've just had to accept that I- well- don't like.
Seeds in:
*eggplant. I don't like their texture, or how they taste (bitter) or how they look (scary).
*yellow squash. viscous and goopy.
*cucumbers. they make me burp. I dislike burping.
But I do love eggplant and cucumbers and I like yellow squash (not going to lie- it's not my favorite, but I like it). I just have to remove the seeds as much as I can before eating them.
And then there's corn. I LOVE corn dishes: chowder, creamed corn, succotash, corn in salads, in breads, in stews. I just really don't enjoy chomping on an ear of corn. While corn on the cob is, yes, yummy- I find it somewhat tedious to eat. And kinda messy.  So there you go.

Given my share this week (summer squash, eggplant and corn included) I had to find a way to enjoy these beautiful vegetables while acknowledging my newly admitted preferences. And now that I've 'come out' about my anti-seed perspectives, I dove in and worked with it.

Summer Squash and Eggplant Dip
This can be eaten as a dip with pita chips or crudités, or as a spread with avocado, sliced cucumber and turkey on whole wheat bread or in a pita. 
2 medium-large yellow squash
1 medium eggplant
1 clove garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
3 scallions
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon honey
1 and 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Prick the squashes and eggplant with a knife, place on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft.
3. Peel the garlic and the ginger and cut the ginger into 4 or 5 pieces.
4. Slice each one in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. For the eggplant, you will find ‘pockets’ of seeds that can be simply pulled out. For the squash, there will be a sort of ‘well’ of seeds that can be spooned out.
5. Scrape the pulp out of the eggplant and squash into the bowl of a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

When in the store today, I found some fresh mozzarella and prosciutto roll on sale for $2.99 a pound. It was great in this layered casserole:

Layered Eggplant and Tomato Casserole
Serve with pasta and Chianti or syrah
1 medium eggplant
2 medium-large tomatoes
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (with or without prosciutto)
8 basil leaves
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
olive oil, as needed

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice the eggplant and tomatoes, and mozzarella crosswise, into 1/4-inch slices. Lightly oil a two-quart casserole. Tear the basil into tiny pieces. Combine the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese.
3. Layer the eggplant, then tomatoes, then and mozzarella in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture and some basil. Repeat. Drizzle all with olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil.
4. Bake for 45 minutes, until cheese is melted and eggplant is soft. If desired, uncover and bake another 5 minutes for a crispier crust.
Layered Eggplant and Tomato Casserole, before baking

Black Bean and Corn Salad
You can add diced avocado, if you want.
15.5 ounce can black beans
1 large or 2 medium ears of corn, cooked
2 medium tomatoes
2 scallions
1 clove garlic
1 – 2 jalapenos or other hot pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons Pistou
  1. Rinse and drain the black beans. Cut the kernels off the corn.
  2. Cut the tomatoes crosswise and squeeze out the seeds. Cut into medium dice. Mince the scallions and garlic. Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins. Cut into strips and then into small dice. and chop the pepper. 
  3. Put all ingredients in a bowl and toss together.
  4. Make the Pistou:1 large bunch basil, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 clup olive or canola oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place all in a blender of food processor and blend to a paste.
  5. Dress the vegetables with the Pistou and toss.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to try the eggplant casserole - I love eggplant and wine makes EVERYTHING taste better!