Archive for October, 2006

Baked Eggplant with Tomato Sauce

With the weather getting colder, any excuse to turn on the oven is a good one. I loved the texture of how this turned out. It will work best with a plump eggplant–it doesn’t have to be huge and long, just plump. In other words, those skinny Japanese eggplants will not work for this (though I do love them for other dishes!).

baked eggplant

Cooking time: 15 minutes prep time (including the prep in Step 3) and about 25 minutes baking time
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 1 plump eggplant (mine was about 7 inches long and four inches in diameter)
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • pepper
  • good quality bottled tomato sauce (I like Newman’s Own)
  • pasta
  • freshly grated Parmesean (optional)
  1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 3/4 to 1 inch thick pieces. Score the skins with the tip of your knife.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Coat the bottom of a glass baking dish with a thin film of olive oil. Lay eggplant slices on the bottom of the dish (face down for the end pieces). Rub a little bit of olive oil on the tops (you shouldn’t need more than a tablespoon for all of this). Sprinkle with garlic powder and freshly cracked pepper.
  3. Bake about 10 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and pour tomato sauce over the eggplant (about 8-10 oz). Put the dish back in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes more, or until the eggplant can be easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Turn on the water for boiling your pasta when you put the dish in the oven the second time. Cook until al dente. Serve a slice of eggplant and sauce over the pasta. Top with cheese if desired.
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Tantalizing Tomato Soup

tomato soup

Growing up, my dad and I always ate grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch, especially when Mom was out. I still love regular tomato soup (and grilled cheese), but I had the urge to dress this up a bit, and I must say, it was quite a success. The balsamic vinegar adds a lovely sweetness, and the chunks of fresh tomatoes make the soup a bit heartier. It’s a great way to warm up as the weather gets chillier.

Cooking time: 20 minutes or less

Servings: 2+ (If you’re eating it with grilled cheese sandwiches, three servings at least, I think)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can reduced-sodium condensed tomato soup
  • low-fat milk to fill the can
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  1. Chop the tomato into 1/3 to 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Pour the can of soup into a small pot and turn the heat on medium-low. Use a little bit of water to get out the bits stuck to the can. Fill the can with milk and add it to the pot. Stir until the soup is dissolved into the milk.
  3. Add the tomatoes, basil, onion and garlic powders and pepper. Stir well. Pour in the vinegar while stirring the soup.
  4. Stir occasionally until heated through. Serve piping hot, preferably with a grilled cheese sandwich.

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Stuffed Scallop Squash

I saw this neat squash at the farmers’ market. The woman who sold it to me said she often splits it open and stuffs it. With that in mind, I modeled this recipe after my mom’s stuffed bell peppers. Scallop squash is also known as pattypan or sunburst squash. I like the word “pattypan” better than scallop, but the alliteration in the recipe title just sounds so nice.

stuffed scallop squash

Cooking time: 35 min. prep, plus about 20 min. baking

Servings: 2 if you have other stuff with it, like a salad and dessert. But if this is all you’re eating, you’ll probably want to eat both halves.

Ingredients

  • 1 scallop/pattypan/sunburst squash
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup fake ground beef (about half of one of those BocaBurger packs)
  • 1/2 cup very garlic-y tomato sauce (or add in an extra 1/4 tsp or so of garlic powder)
  • 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheese (I used white cheddar)
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried
  • pinch of fresh chopped parsley (optional)
  • dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  1. Slice the squash horizontally through the middle so you have two, flat, circular halves. Chop off the top of the squash where it was connected to the vine so that both sides lay flat. Gently scoop out the seeds and pulp from the middle with a spoon and discard (these are edible because it’s summer squash, but you have to make room for the extra stuff somehow!).
  2. With a small, sharp knife, trace around the squash about 1/2 inch from the edge and going about 3/4 inch deep, following the shape of the squash by angling in. Gently force your spoon into the cut you just made and scrape out the flesh, leaving 1/2 inch thick shell. Chop up the pieces of flesh you cut out and put them in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Add the rice, fake beef, cheese, basil, pepper and parsley to the bowl with the squash in it. Add about 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce. Mix thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 375.
  4. Place the squash “shells” in a baking dish. Stuff each half with half of the mixture. Top the stuffing with the remaining tomato sauce.
  5. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until squash “shells” are fork tender. Don’t forget, the “shells” are edible, too.

Notes: When I bake small dishes like this, especially if it’s warm out, I use my toaster oven. It works just as well and takes much less time to heat up. However, if you are using a conventional oven, you might need to lower the temp to 360.

Also, this is one of the many things you can do with left-over rice. When I cook rice, I always make an extra serving or two for dishes like this. Fried rice is another dish that works well with day-old rice.

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