Showing posts with label eggplant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eggplant. Show all posts

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Ratatouille calzones

Calzones de ratatouille / Ratatouille calzones

Last week I told Joao that for the weekend I wanted to make something different for lunch: I was not in the mood for pasta or for the good old rice and beans combo, and I definitely wanted to try my hands at a new recipe.

Going through the vegetables in my fridge I found one eggplant, one zucchini, a couple of carrots and that was it: not much to choose from. So I kept the carrots for some other time and used the eggplant and the zucchini to make a sort of ratatouille, adding tomato paste and olive to make the mixture more interesting. Mixed with cheese it became the filling for these calzones and I bring you this recipe with a very proud smile: the calzones turned out so good!

Apparently going through the crisper drawer might be a good creative exercise. :D

The recipe yields 8 large calzones, which is too much for the both of us for one meal, so I froze the remaining calzones and we ate them for dinner yesterday. If you want to do the same, just wait for the calzones to cool completely, wrap in foil and place them in a plastic bag, sealing well. Once the calzones are thawed, 10 minutes in a hot oven are enough to make them delicious again.

Calzones de ratatouille / Ratatouille calzones

Ratatouille calzones
own recipe

2 teaspoons dried yeast
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (300ml) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (420g) all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons table salt

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ small onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 medium zucchini (240g), in 1cm-cubes
1 medium eggplant (300g), in 1cm-cubes
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon dry white wine
10 large black olives, pitted and finely chopped
1 ½ cups (150g) coarsely grated yellow mozzarella*
3 tablespoons coarsely grated parmesan
2 teaspoons dried oregano

After assembling the calzones:
olive oil, for brushing
finely grated parmesan, for sprinkling over the calzones

Start with the dough: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the yeast, sugar and water with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour and salt and mix for 6-8 minutes or until a soft and elastic dough forms. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size – mine proved for 90 minutes.

In the meantime, make the filling: heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook stirring occasionally until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant – do not let it burn or it will get bitter. Stir in zucchini, eggplant and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are softer. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes – it is important to cook it thoroughly to avoid the raw tomato aftertaste. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the olives. Remove from the heat, cool completely, discard the bay leaf and then stir in the cheeses and the oregano.

Preheat the oven to 420°F/220°C. Have ready two large baking sheets.
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts – each will be around 100g (3 ½ oz.). Roll out each portion of dough on a lightly floured surface until you get a rough 25cm (10in) circle. Place about ½ cup of the filling on one side of the dough and fold the other half over, pinching the seams well to keep the filling inside – since vegetables can vary in size, if you have a scale weigh the filling and divide it equally in 8 portions. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling. Place the calzones onto the sheets and brush them with the olive oil and sprinkle with the parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately.

* the yellow mozzarella I used is not like fresh mozzarella balls, therefore it does not release too much liquid. Replace by cheddar or something similar texture wise.

Makes 8

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Vegetable tagine and some planning in the kitchen

Vegetable tagine / Tagine de legumes

There are times when work is pretty intense (like last week, for instance), and something I have been doing for those times is to have ready or almost ready meals in the fridge or freezer – it makes a huge difference. Planning is, indeed, everything.

Meatballs, tomato sauce, pesto sauce, soups, beef stews – these have been my usual suspects lately. Now I will add one more dish to my list: this vegetable tagine. It is delicious and freezes really well – just do not add the cilantro leaves in the end (do it right before serving it). I have made this tagine a couple of times already and sometimes I added green olives to it – it adds a nice saltiness to the tagine. I did not have any in the fridge on the day of the photo, but if you like olives like I do please consider my suggestion.

Vegetable tagine
own recipe, inspired for several around the web

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow pepper, finely diced
½ large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon hot paprika – use the sweet kind if you don’t like spicy food
1 teaspoon Baharat
¼ cup dry white wine
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into ½cm (¼in) slices (the ones in the photo are too thick, they take too long to cook)
1 sweet potato (about 250g/8oz), peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
200g (7oz) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
1 400g (14oz) can peeled chopped tomatoes
2 cups boiling water, plus more if needed
2 bay leaves
1 small eggplant (about 250g/8oz), cut into 2cm cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas, unthawed
handful of fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over high heat – a deep frying pan works well here. Add the yellow pepper and the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spices and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the wine and scrape the brown bits around the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the carrot, sweet potato and butternut squash and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the peeled tomatoes and crush them with the back of the spoon. Add the water, bay leaves, stir in the eggplant, season with salt and pepper and cook, partially covered, for 30-35 minutes or until vegetables are tender, checking eventually - if the tagine starts to get dry, add more water. Stir in the peas, cover, remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Serves 4-5

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hasselback baby eggplants

Hasselback baby eggplants / Mini berinjelas Hasselback

If you have been reading me for a while now you probably know that I am a huge fan of Nigella Lawson – I was lucky enough to meet her a few years ago and got one of my books autographed. She is the one who, ages ago, introduced me to Hasselback potatoes, a recipe I find not only delicious but also really pretty.

When I was still working on the book project, I thought one day: “why not Hasselback other veggies, too?”. One day, at the farmer’s market, I saw these beautiful baby eggplants and the Hasselback feeling came back to my mind. To make things more interesting, there had to be cheese, of course, but a strong flavored one. A drizzle of garlic oil turned everything into a delicious and perfumed side dish – if my husband saw this post he would strike the word “perfumed” off, for that and “gorgonzola” cannot be in the same sentence as far as he is concerned. :D

Hasselback baby eggplants / Mini berinjelas Hasselback

Hasselback baby eggplants
own creation

12 baby eggplants (about 600g/little less than 1 ½ pounds)
4 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g gorgonzola cheese, firm enough to be sliced

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Tear 12 pieces of foil, about 20x20cm (8x8in) each, then crumple each one of them formatting into little nests – they will be the support for each eggplant, that way they don’t roll around the baking sheet.
Place the foil nests on a large baking sheet and brush their cavities with a little of the olive oil. Set aside.

In a mortar and pestle, place the garlic and salt and pound until a paste forms. Add the black pepper and the remaining olive oil and mix well.

Place each eggplant on a wooden spoon and cut into slices without going through the end – you want the eggplant to remain whole. Cut the gorgonzola into thin slices and place them inside the slits in the eggplants – make sure the cheese slices are thin enough to fit into the eggplants. Place the eggplants into the foil nests and drizzle with the garlic oil. Bake for about 25 minutes or until eggplants are tender.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spaghetti with meat and aubergine balls

Spaghetti with meat and aubergine balls / Espaguete com almôndegas de carne e berinjela

I once told you that meatballs are a huge success at home, and I was not lying: I make them quite often, and always pop some of them (still uncooked) in the freezer – they can go to the oven directly from frozen, making my life a lot easier during weeknights (+ my husband can do that himself, which is always a plus). :)

I have posted meatballs made of beef, and meatballs made of eggplant, and today I present you a merge between those two kinds: eggplants get roasted, then their pulp is mixed with beef to create delicious, moist meatballs – they were very flavorsome and turned the spaghetti into something even more special.

Since this is a recipe by Antonio Carluccio there was no way it could go wrong.

Spaghetti with meat and aubergine balls
from the always delicious and beautiful Pasta

400g spaghetti
freshly grated parmesan or pecorino, to serve

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
100ml dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
680g tomato passata
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
handful fresh basil leaves

2 whole aubergines
olive oil, for drizzling the aubergines and for shallow-frying
300g minced beef
1 garlic clove, peeled and squashed to a paste
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
50g parmesan, finely grated
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
100g fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it with olive oil. Cut the aubergines in half lengthwise and place them cut side up onto the foil. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Scoop the pulp out of the skins, transfer to a large bowl and mash the pulp. Cool. Discard the skins.

While the aubergines are roasting, make the sauce: heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, and fry the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and tomato passata. Season with salt and pepper, add the sugar, stir well and cook gently for 30–40 minutes. Stir in the basil and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, continue with the meatballs by mixing together the beef mince, the aubergine pulp, garlic, nutmeg, parmesan, egg and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and shape into balls. Shallow-fry in olive oil to brown on all sides. Add the balls to the tomato sauce and keep warm.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Mix the past and the sauce carefully and serve immediately sprinkled with parmesan or pecorino.

Serves 4

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fusilli with pine nuts and eggplant and the pasta dishes of my childhood

Fusilli with pine nuts and eggplant / Macarrão com pinoli e berinjela

Having Italian blood in my veins, pasta was something I ate my whole life: my mother, despite being from a German family, cooked pasta quite frequently, and when she died and my paternal grandmother came to live with us she cooked pasta a lot, too – my grandfather was Italian, so pasta was something quite natural for her.

There wasn’t, or at least I don’t remember, much variety when it came to pasta sauces: there were tomato sauce, Bolognese, béchamel and aglio e olio, and that was it. When I started buying cookbooks and reading recipes online, years ago, I realized that there was so much more that could be done with pasta, there were so many interesting sauces, that blew me away.

One way I love cooking pasta is using vegetables as sauce: you get tons of flavor while eating something delicious and good for you. This recipe comes from the great Antonio Carluccio and when I finished cooking the sauce and tried some it tasted to amazing I thought it could be also spread over crusty bread and served as bruschetta instead of tossed with pasta – that is how I intend to eat it next time. :D

Fusilli with pine nuts and eggplant
slightly adapted from the great Antonio Carluccio: The Collection

400g eggplants, trimmed and cut into small cubes
90ml extra virgin olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 heaping tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
pinch of dried chilli flakes
freshly ground black pepper
15 large black olives, pitted and thorn into pieces
handful of fresh basil leaves, thorn
400g fusilli or other short pasta
finely grated parmesan, to serve

Leave the eggplant cubes in lightly salted water for 1 hour, then drain, squeeze out the water and pat dry on kitchen paper. Fry them in the oil for 3 minutes, stir in the garlic and fry, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is golden brown. Add the tomato paste, pine nuts, capers, chilli flakes, black pepper and olives and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally – add a little water if the mixture is too dry. Stir in the basil, cover and remove from the heat.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain and mix well with the sauce. Serve with the parmesan.

Serves 4

Monday, January 19, 2015

Meatballs alla Norma

Meatballs alla Norma / Almôndegas alla Norma

As someone who loves anything related to food, I love reading about it, making and eating it (obviously), but I also find it amazing to talk about it with different people and learn what they like, what they don’t like and how their tastes change with time.

I have those conversations with my husband all the time, and he tells me about the food he ate as a kid, things he loved and things he couldn’t stand, how it took him so long to appreciate all sorts of vegetables, and that his mother would be really glad to see him finally eating like an adult (she passed away in 2011).

Every time Joao and I talk about those things I feel more inspired to cook, and when he asked me to make meatballs – one of his all time favorite dishes – I remembered Jamie Oliver’s meatballs alla Norma and thought that a bit of eggplant in the meatballs wouldn’t hurt.

I love eggplant. :)

The eggplant sauce tasted divine with the meatballs; Jamie served his over polenta, but since it was too hot here I went with spaghetti instead and some bread to mop up the sauce – a simple yet delicious meal that I get to replicate anytime I want with the meatballs I stashed in my freezer.

Meatballs alla Norma
slightly adapted from the always delicious Save with Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less

Meatballs – recipe here

1 large eggplant
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 400g (14oz) can diced tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful fresh basil leaves

Dice the eggplant into 1.5 cm cubes, then season well with salt and leave for 15 min in a colander.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with a double layer of foil and brush it with olive oil. Place the meatballs onto the prepared sheet and bake until firm and cooked through (about 30 minutes) – bake as many as you want, the recipe yields about 25 meatballs. You can freeze uncooked meatballs for up to 2 months and bake them directly from frozen.

While the meatballs are in the oven, make the sauce: take handfuls of the eggplant and squeeze out the excess salty liquid, then put into a saucepan on a medium heat with a lug of oil to cook for 10 min, or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the sweet chili sauce and balsamic, add the tomatoes and 3 tablespoons water. Season with salt and black pepper, then simmer for 10-15 min, or until thickened. Stir in the basil and remove from the heat.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rye ratatouille tart

Rye ratatouille tart / Torta de ratatouille e centeio

My craving for vegetables is still full on and I’m always looking for interesting ways of cooking them, especially because my husband has become a veggie convert – I love it that he’s realized that he doesn’t need all the meat he though he needed and that eating more vegetables is good for him (let’s forget that it took him forty-six years to finally get to that conclusion – better late than never, right?) ;)

I love tarts, both sweet and savory, so when I saw this ratatouille tart on a Brazilian TV show I fell in love with it: so colorful, so beautiful! I decided to make it but switched the pastry (pâte brisée) for the wonderful rye pastry I love so much – it worked like a charm! The flavorsome pastry paired beautifully with the roasted vegetables.

This tart is delicious and looks really beautiful – I’m all for food that tastes and looks good.

Rye ratatouille tart
adapted from this lovely book and from Rita Lobo

½ recipe rye pastry

1 small eggplant
1 small zucchini
¾ cup cherry tomatoes
1 leek, white part only
1 small yellow pepper
1 onion
4 garlic cloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme

Slice the eggplant in 1cm slices (if too wide, cut the slices in half). Transfer to a bowl of lightly salted water. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
Slice the zucchini in 1cm slices (if too wide, cut the sliced in half), cut the cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise, slice the leek in 1cm slices as well and cut the bell pepper in squares. Peel the onion and cut into eights, then slice the garlic cloves in half lengthwise.

Drain the eggplant, pat dry with paper towels and place the pieces on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and roast for 15 minutes. Place the other vegetables on the baking sheet with the eggplant, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F.

Place the dough onto large piece of baking paper and roll into a rough 25cm (10in) circle. Transfer to a cool baking sheet. Arrange the roasted vegetables on the center of the pastry and top with the fresh herbs. Fold one edge in towards the center of the filling and continue folding all the way round, bringing the edge of the pastry towards and over the filling.

Brush the tart with the egg wash (only the pastry). Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. The tart is delicious both warm and at room temperature.

Serves 4

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Caponata - easy and delicious


Caponata is something I ate a lot growing up, but never knew the real name – my grandmother used to make it all the time, especially when there were a lot of people to feed, and she served it with bread or on small toasts, canapé style. I loved it and would ask her to make it again and again – I used to call it “my grandma’s eggplant dish”, having no idea it was such a staple of Italian cuisine.

It took me forever to make caponata myself, maybe because it has always been something so attached to my grandma’s cooking, but my husband asked me to make it and I decided to give it a go, especially after going through some of my books and finding a recipe by Andrew Carmellini on one of my favorite cookbooks – it is his the most delicious gnocchi I’ve ever made, and I ate at both Lafayette and Locanda Verde when I was in NYC, so I trust the guy. ;)

Andrew’s caponata is very easy to put together and it tastes great, not to mention it benefits from a day of two in the fridge – I’m all for making things in advance, so this recipe has become part of my repertoire and I hope it becomes part of yours, too.


slightly adapted from the delicious Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food

1/3 cup (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced large
1 yellow pepper, diced large
1 Italian eggplant, diced large
3 stalks of celery, diced large
1 zucchini, diced large
½ teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 400g (14oz) can chopped peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar – I used sherry vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large saucepot over high heat. Add the onion, pepper and eggplant. When the vegetables have softened a bit (about 5 minutes), add the celery and zucchini. Season with half the salt and black pepper. Mix the ingredients together and continue to cook.

After ten 10 minutes, add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Cover and reduce the heat to medium, and let the steam roast the vegetables for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft but not falling apart and the tomatoes are well incorporated. Mix in the balsamic vinegar and cook for 2 minutes.

Remove the saucepot from the heat, add the thyme and season with remaining salt and pepper (add more salt to taste if necessary). Mix in vinegar.

The caponata can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days (I thought it tasted better the day after it was made).

Serves 8-10

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Eggplant mull and mood swings

Eggplant mull / Mull de berinjela

Choosing what to cook is not always an easy task around here: I want to cook lots of things, which is not feasible at all (not to mention expensive), so I have to refrain myself and be reasonable. Sometimes I’m tired and want something simple that doesn’t get me standing on my feet too long – those are the days when decision making is a lot quicker.

There is, however, something that changes every now and then: my mood.

There are days when I flip through certain cookbooks for hours and find absolutely nothing that appeals to me – I start wondering why I bought the book in the first place, that it was a waste of money, and so forth (hello, PMS). Then, weeks later, maybe even days, I grab the same cookbook and I want to eat each and every recipe on it – everything looks delicious.

No, I’m not completely mad, guys, I promise. :D

A while ago I had Maria Elia’s cookbook on my lap as I had a cup of tea and as I turned each page of the book I kept trying to remember why I’d bought it because I did not feel like eating any of those recipes. None. A week later I got the book again and it made my mouth water so hard I couldn’t decide what to cook – everything looked so tasty! I went for the eggplant mull because I had everything in my fridge and it was such a lovely meal it has become a favorite – it’s a great weekday meal.

The paprika I used was on the hot side and I’ve toned it down a little after that first time, using half of the amount called for in the recipe below – that is very personal so I suggest you adapt it to make it to your liking.

Eggplant mull
slightly adapted from the delicious Full of Flavor: How to Create Like a Chef

1 large eggplant, cut in halve lengthwise, then into 5mm slices
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 plum tomatoes, deseeded and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
juice of half a lemon
handful of chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it generously with olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices on top of the foil, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven.

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and spices and cook for 5 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Stir in the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and herbs and serve.

Serves 2

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Eggplant turnovers and the wonderful Internet

Eggplant turnovers / Tortinhas de berinjela

The Internet, this wonderful thing: while reading a text on feminism (too bad it’s not in English, I would gladly recommend it to Shailene Woodley), I got to a video of George Carlin - I don’t know why on earth I did not know this genius man, and I’m really glad that has been corrected now.

On my daily visits to IMDb I learned that Raymond "Red" Reddington is coming back soon, on September 22nd, to be more precise. \0/

I saw the first teaser for the last season of Sons of Anarchy, and it is amazing.

I learned that Jason Reitman might actually make me like a movie with Adam Sandler – I’m in awe with the beauty of this trailer. <3

And I also came across these eggplant turnovers, a recipe by Dan Lepard (someone who usually doesn’t disappoint when it comes to food), and I have to tell you: the husband and I weren’t too thrilled about the filling – it tasted good, but sort of bland – but this pastry is absolutely fantastic: very flaky and tasty. It is made in a similar way to the rye pastry I adore so much, and all that folding and turning really transform already good pastry into something even better.

I might not have been too happy with this eggplant filling (despite my love for the veggie), but this pastry is worth making again with different fillings – it might become my official empanada pastry instead of the one I posted here a while ago.

Eggplant turnovers
slightly adapted from Dan Lepard

2 medium eggplants (about 700g total)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g ricotta – I used homemade
2 chopped spring onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

200g all purpose flour
100g whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, packed
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
100g unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1cm cubes
½ cup (120ml) cold water
1 egg, beaten with a fork, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Halve the eggplants lengthwise and place them onto the foil cut side down. Prick them all over with a fork, piercing the skin. Bake for 1 hour.
Scrape out the flesh, spoon into a sieve over a bowl with ½ a teaspoon of salt and drain for an hour. Stir in the ricotta, onions and oregano. Let it drain again.

In the meantime, make the dough: put the flour and salt in a bowl, stir in the parsley, and rub in the oil and butter. Add the cold water, coax into a rough dough and chill for 30 minutes. Using extra flour, roll out to a rough 40x15cm (16x6in) rectangle, fold in by thirds (as if you were folding a letter), repeat the roll and fold, then wrap and chill for another 30 minutes. Repeat the double roll and fold steps twice more at 30-minute intervals. Roll the dough about 3mm thick and cut into 12 squares.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°C. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.

Season the filling, discard the liquid, and spoon a little onto each pastry square. Seal like pasties, place onto the sheet, brush with eggwash and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Makes 12

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sichuan spiced eggplant - in an eggplant state of mind

Sichuan spiced eggplant / Berinjela apimentada

I’ve been in an eggplant state of mind lately: I’ve used it in soups, empanadas and my husband and I love eggplant parmigiana – I always make a large batch because the leftovers are great.

And when I’m not cooking with eggplants, the Universe conspires for me to do so: my copy of Save with Jamie arrived and there was a aubergine daal recipe there (withh handmade chapatis, no less) – I almost drooled over the book. :)

As I searched for something good on TV the other day, I bumped into Paul Hollywood making maneesh with baba ganoush. :)

And finally, days after that, while going through the August issue of Delicious UK magazine I saw a recipe for spiced eggplant served with rice and it looked so mouthwatering I had to try it. It is, indeed, delicious and easy to make – you just need some time for the eggplants to roast in the oven before actually cooking them with the remaining ingredients: the soft flesh carries all the others flavors beautifully.

This recipe makes great leftovers, too, and can be served with quinoa instead of rice (I would gladly eat it with bread, too, if you’ll ask me ). :)

Sichuan spiced eggplant / Berinjela apimentada

Sichuan spiced eggplant
slightly adapted from the wonderful Delicious UK

2 medium eggplants
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ onion, finely diced
½ tablespoon grated fresh ginger
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, processed to a paste
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
fresh cilantro leaves, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Halve the eggplants lengthwise and place them onto the foil cut side up. Slash the cut side a few times. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 35 minutes. Cool completely, then cut into slices.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the garlic, onion, ginger and chilli. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato and cook for 1 minute. Add the eggplants, sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar and add ½ cup (120ml) water. Bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and glossy. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper if necessary, stir in the sesame seeds and serve sprinkled with the cilantro leaves.

Serves 2 (with leftovers)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Eggplant “meatballs” and Stephen Holder

Eggplant "meatballs" / Almôndegas de berinjela

Some supporting characters have the power of stealing main characters’ thunder in movies and TV shows – for instance, Amy Poehler is super funny but to me Tom Haverford is the highlight of Parks and Recreation.

I finished the first season of the excellent The Killing and was amazed by Mireille Enos’ strong performance, but Joel Kinnaman was the real surprise here: his Stephen Holder is a delight to watch, adding a much needed – and intelligently made – comic relief to a very dark show. He has the best lines and deliver them perfectly, making me laugh like crazy in several scenes – one of my favorites is the one in which Linden tells him that he can’t eat pork rinds if he’s a vegetarian and he tells her that “pork rinds are junk food, don’t count” (here at 1:10 if you want to enjoy it). :D

These “meatballs”, made out of eggplant with no meat whatsoever, are delicious – I served them with pasta and it was a hit. They’re very soft and it took me a while to shape the mixture into balls so I thought of adding an egg to it, but since my husband kept snacking on the mixture while I tried to rolled it I skipped the egg and added more breadcrumbs instead – it worked like a charm and I just had to be careful while frying them to keep them from falling apart.

I believe these eggplant “meatballs” will be a hit at your house as they were in mine - either if you’re a true vegetarian or a Holder-kind-of-vegetarian. :D

Eggplant “meatballs”
slightly adapted from A Girl Called Jack: 100 Delicious Budget Recipes

1 eggplant
1 onion, finely diced
1 far garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
3 large black olives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
finely grated zest and juice of 1 small
about ¼ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
small handful parsley leaves, chopped
small handful basil leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
tomato sauce, to serve

Cut the stems off the ends of the eggplants and halve lengthways. Dice the flesh into chunks and pop into a medium nonstick saucepan or frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, chilli and oliver, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes to brown and soften.

Add the lemon zest and juice, mix to combine, then remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Cool slightly. Add the breadcrumbs, parmesan and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls with your hands. Wipe the nonstick frying pan clean with a kitchen towel and pour in remaining 1 tablespoon. Heat over medium heat, then carefully fry the eggplant balls in batches until browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with the tomato sauce.

Makes about 12

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Baked moussaka eggplants and understanding references

Baked moussaka eggplants / Barquinhas de moussaka

I was listening to an FM radio station weeks ago and when they started playing Katy Perry’s “Roar” it suddenly hit me: her teenage fans don’t understand the references on her song, do they? I don’t think they do because they’re not old enough for that.

I don’t mean to be cranky - I don’t get tons of references either (and it’s pure joy when I do get them). :) It’s just that sometimes we might let something nice go unnoticed because of our lack of reference, which is such a pity. I guess that because of the blog and all these years of reading and being curious about food I immediately felt like making this recipe when I saw it – otherwise I would probably not pay much attention to a dish called “moussaka”.

These stuffed eggplants were a hit at home – my husband and I loved them, and a plus is that they’re easy to make. I replaced the passata called for in the recipe for tomato sauce I’d made the night before (using canned tomatoes and lots of fresh basil, thyme and oregano) and I think that made the dish even tastier.

Baked moussaka eggplants
slightly adapted from the delicious Taste Magazine (I got a digital subscription through

2 small (about 500g total) eggplants, halved lengthways
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried oregano
250g beef mince
¼ cup red wine
½ cup tomato passata*
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
50g sourdough, chopped – better if stale
50g grated fresh mozzarella
30g feta, crumbled or grated
basil leaves, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a roasting pan (large enough to hold the 4 eggplant halves side by side) with foil.
Using a sharp knife and a spoon, scoop out the eggplant flesh leaving a 1cm border. Finely chop the flesh. Place the shells on the prepared pan, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until it starts to soften.
In a large saucepan, heat ½ tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for2 minutes or until soft. Stir in the chopped eggplant and cook for 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in the garlic, cook until fragrant, then stir in the cinnamon and half the oregano. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the remaining olive oil in the same saucepan. Add the beef and cook until brown. Return onion mixture to the saucepan, stir in wine and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the passata and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Divide the mixture among the eggplant shells, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. In the meantime, place the bread, cheeses, remaining oregano and olive oil in a small bowl and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the foil, spread the cheese mixture over the eggplant and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until topping is golden. Sprinkle with the basil and serve.

* I’d made tomato sauce (using canned tomatoes and lots of fresh basil, thyme and oregano) the day before and used it instead of the passata

Serves 2

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pasta alla Norma and back from vacation

Pasta alla Norma

After 11 wonderful days spent in the unforgettable New York I’m back home – very tired and immensely happy. The best trip of my life to a place I intend to go back to many, many times. My heart is full of joy but my feet still hurt from all the walking, so a quick meal is mandatory: this pasta dish is easy to make and tastes great, despite its simplicity – a weeknight favorite.

Pasta alla Norma
slightly adapted from the always amazing and delicious Australian Gourmet Traveller

1 large eggplant, cut into 4cm cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
300ml tomato passata
1 tablespoon tomato paste*
400g short pasta
6 tablespoons ricotta
1 small bunch fresh basil
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Place eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon table salt, weigh down with a plate and allow to drain for 2 hours. Gently dry on kitchen paper. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté eggplant pieces, in batches if necessary, until golden brown and tender. Drain on kitchen paper and transfer to a bowl.
Add garlic to the frying pan over low heat and sauté until softened. Add tomato passata and tomato paste and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the eggplant to the sauce and season with freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. Add this cooking liquid to the tomato and eggplant sauce and cook for 1 minute.
Place pasta in a large serving bowl, add tomato and eggplant sauce and combine well. Add ricotta and basil leaves and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Combine the mixture one more time before serving.

* I did not have any tomato paste at home, so I added 2 tablespoons of homemade tomato sauce packed with lots of basil

Serves 4

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pasta with eggplant and pine nuts

Pasta with eggplant and pine nuts

Thank you all for your comments and emails – the nerd girl that never fit in is feeling pretty popular right now. :)
I’m looking forward to my next blogging year!

After all that icing – so much it could block one’s arteries just by looking at it – I thought you deserved something fresh and a lot lighter. Pasta + veggies seemed perfect.

Despite the tiny list of ingredients, this is one of the most delicious pasta dishes I have ever tried. Make it, even if you don’t have pine nuts around – it tastes great anyway.

Pasta with eggplant and pine nuts

Pasta with eggplant and pine nuts
slightly adapted from here

400g pasta
2 large eggplants
olive oil, for brushing
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a large handful of basil leaves
4 tablespoons pine nuts
fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 4 small limes

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
Cut each eggplant in half lengthways, then make criss cross cuts on the flesh nearly all the way down to the skin. Brush with olive oil, place in a lightly oiled baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until soft. In the meantime, cook the pasta until al dente and toast the pine nuts on a non stick frying pan.Remove the eggplant from the oven and, using a spoon, scrape the flesh out of the skins and place in a bowl. Pour the extra virgin olive oil gradually mixing it with eggplant until you get to a smooth paste. Season it with fleur de sel and pepper
Drain the pasta and mix it with the eggplant to coat it really well. Add the basil , pine nuts and lime juice.

Serves 4

Friday, November 7, 2008

Polenta-crusted roasted ratatouille tart

Polenta-crusted roasted ratatouille tart

Thank you all for your comments and concern – your positive thoughts and kind words were very important for my getting better, for sure!

I have been thinking a lot about sweets lately – due to Christmas coming and the gifts I want to make for my friends and colleagues. I have so many recipes bookmarked I don’t even know where to start, really...

I found this recipe going through cookie and candy recipes for the holidays. I have no idea why it was filed in my sweet folder, but I considered it a sign. I’d rather have a sign like this than the one Francesca had in Tuscany. Eeew! :)

Polenta-crusted roasted ratatouille tart

Polenta-crusted roasted ratatouille tart
slightly adapted from here and here

1 cup (155g) instant polenta
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon + a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, in cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons olive oil
½ large onion, thinly sliced
1 small eggplant, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dried oregano
fresh oregano leaves, to taste
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese – I used the yellow mozzarella we have here, made with cow’s milk and that looks similar to Monterrey Jack cheese
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Start with the filling: preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºC. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat; sauté onion until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes. Spray 2 baking trays with cooking spray. Arrange the eggplant, zucchini and tomato slices on the trays in a single layer and brush with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle the tomatoes with dried oregano and roast the vegetables until soft but not browned, about 15 minutes. Remove the vegetables from oven and cool.

Now, the crust: lower the oven temperature to 180ºC/350ºF.
Combine polenta, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor – I used my Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment. Pulse to incorporate. Add butter and oil and pulse about 20 times, until mixture resembles small pebbles. Add water and pulse until mixture forms a loose dough. Remove dough from processor and press into bottom and sides of a lightly oiled 24cm tart pan with a removable bottom (my pan doesn’t have very high sides).
Press aluminum foil or baking paper over the dough weigh down with uncooked rice, beans or pie weights. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and remove rice and foil. Return to oven, rise the temperature to 200ºC/400ºF and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes, or until no longer shiny and wet. Remove from oven and let cool.

Lower the oven temperature to 180ºC/350ºF.
Lay the eggplant slices on the bottom of tart; cover with 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese and some of oregano leaves. Add the zucchini and onion, top with another 1/3 of the mozzarella and oregano, then the tomatoes. Top with rest of the mozzarella cheese, oregano leaves and the parmesan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and vegetables have further wilted.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before unmolding it. Serve warm.

Serves 6

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Grilled eggplant with tomatoes and cheese and a new home

Grilled eggplant with tomatoes and cheese

A quick post this time - I’m moving today and lots of boxes surround me right now.

If you like veggies, please, make this dish. It couldn’t be simpler and the flavors are so good. Serve it with some crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a meal.

Grilled eggplant with tomatoes and cheese

Grilled eggplant with tomatoes and cheese
inspired by a recipe from Family Food

2 eggplants, sliced
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil*
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb 2 oz (510g) cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons capers, drained
½ cup mozzarella – the one I used seems to be similar to Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
small basil leaves, to garnish – it was raining heavily so I couldn’t go outside to pick them

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/392ºF.

Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Brush the eggplant slices with some of the oil. Grill the slices on both sides until they are soft and begin to brown, then lay them in a large, shallow baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the rest of the oil in a small saucepan, add the cherry tomatoes and garlic, then fry briefly until the tomatoes just start to soften. Add the capers for a minute. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the tomatoes over the eggplant, and sprinkle the mozzarella and the parmesan on top.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden. Remove from the oven then sprinkle the basil leaves over the top. Serve at once.

* garlic is not my best friend when it comes to digestion, so I used garlic infused olive oil and omitted the garlic cloves.

Serves 4

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tomato, Minas cheese and eggplant salad

Tomato, Minas cheese and eggplant salad

Isn’t it wonderful when a recipe exceeds our expectations?? I love it when that happens. This salad is one of those recipes.
When I saw the photo on the book, I thought it would be good. But it turned out to be really, really good.

The dressing plays an amazing part here – and the garlic is the one to blame. I have a friend who loves to cook with garlic and I’m sure he would like this dressing very much.

The only problem for me is that I find garlic a bit hard to digest – so the dressing and I had long conversations throughout the afternoon. We even saw a movie together. :S
I know that roasting garlic is one way of getting rid of this problem but I’m not sure how much it would change the flavor of the dressing.

I adapted the recipe of a Brazilian book and used queijo Minas frescal (Minas cheese) instead of bocconcini – a cookie cutter came in handy for making round slices of cheese.


This is my post for this Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Pille, of the beautiful Nami-Nami.

Tomato, Minas cheese and eggplant salad

Tomato, Minas cheese and eggplant salad

2 eggplants
olive oil
150-200g queijo Minas frescal (or bocconcini)
4 tomatoes

3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Start with the dressing: chop the garlic cloves and place them in a small bowl. Add the oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Wash the eggplants and cut them into 0.5cm slices. Do the same thing with the cheese and the tomatoes.
Heat a grilling pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of each eggplant slice with olive oil and grill (both sides). Set aside.
In a large plate, place the tomato slices, cover with the cheese and finish with the eggplant.
Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Serves 4

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