Eggplant Parmesan

Let’s talk eggplant parm. Cheesy, Italian, vegetarian comfort food at its finest, eggplant parm is not particularly difficult to make but it does require time.  Pre-salting the eggplant, breading and frying it, baking the dish and then the most painful part: letting it rest for a full 20 minutes before eating to solidify. This dish is best suited for a Sunday evening when you have time to graze in and out of the kitchen and leisurely sip on a glass of wine to ward off the Sunday scaries.

I hope I didn’t just deter you from making this dish – it really is easy and apart from the eggplant, you likely have all of the ingredients already. Especially if you’re like me and keep a Costco sized bag of shredded mozzarella in your freezer and a can of pizza sauce in your pantry at all times. Serve your eggplant parm with a big green salad or a side of pasta (completely unnecessary, totally delicious) for the perfect Sunday supper.

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Eggplant Parmesan

Makes a nice little micro eggplant parm, serves 2-3 hungry people. 

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded or torn if using fresh
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can pizza sauce (I like Don Pepino)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. Season the eggplant slices with salt and let them hang out in a single layer for a bit (an hour or so if you can spare it) so the eggplant can release some of its liquid. Wipe away the accumulated moisture on top of each slice with a paper towel.

Mix panko with 1/4 of grated Parmesan, dried basil, oregano and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge eggplant slices in flour and shake off the excess. Dip slices into egg and then panko mixture.

Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook eggplant slices (as many as will fit in the pan) until deep golden brown on both sides – about 5 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Mix mozzarella with 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Spread 1 generous tablespoon of sauce over the bottom of a 9×9″ glass baking dish, top with a layer of eggplant slices (if you need to cut them to ensure they fit, that’s fine). Spread about 1/4 cup of sauce over the eggplant slices and sprinkle generously with your mozzarella-parm mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by 1/4 cup sauce and half of the remaining cheese mixture. Repeat layers until you’re out of ingredients. Final layer should be cheese! Cover with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes. Turn broiler on high. Broil uncovered until the top gets all golden and bubbly – about 2 minutes. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes before serving – this is very important!  Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan before serving.

eggplant parmesan recipe easy

eggplant parm recipe

Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt

I recently bought a 5 pound bag of carrots and let me tell you – those suckers are resilient! I used some carrots in my chicken soup. I brought carrot sticks to work to munch on. I made my favorite carrot soup. Despite my efforts to incorporate more carrots into my diet, there was still a hefty number of carrots left in the fridge.

I decided to go big with my carrot swan song.  I chose a dish that really elevates the humble carrot.  A spice rub, comprised of smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, mustard powder and sugar, adds a delightful smokey and sweet flavor to the carrots when they caramelize and the harissa yogurt is the perfect creamy accompaniment. If you find yourself flush with carrots, make this recipe. It’s super flavorful and way more interesting than your run of the mill carrot dish.

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Spice-Crusted Carrots with Harissa Yogurt

From Bon Appetit

  • 2 pounds carrots, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • pepper
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add carrots and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Remove carrots with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Using a paper towel gently remove the carrot skin and pat the carrots dry.

In a medium bowl, combine the spices and add the carrots with 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss everything together and add salt and pepper to the carrots. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots in batches and cook turning occasionally for about 6 minutes or until the carrots are golden brown. Salt and pepper the carrots when they are done cooking.

In a small bowl, gently fold the harissa, lemon zest, salt and pepper into the yogurt, stopping just before the yogurt turns pink. Spoon the yogurt onto a plate and top with carrots and additional lemon zest.

 

Locked & Loaded Nachos

I like to think of myself as a nacho artisan. I’ve come a long way from my microwave nacho days where I would take a humble bag of tortilla chips, some taco sauce from a jar, shredded cheese and zap it in the microwave. Years later I took my nacho game to the next level by topping my nachos with fresh tomatoes, a dollop of sour cream, sliced green onions and black olives. Today, I am proud to say I have reached new heights in my nacho career. Game-winning, crowd-roaring heights – just in time for the Super Bowl! I present to you my Locked & Loaded Nachos. Tortilla chips (from Whole Foods…I told you I was not messing around) are topped with the finest and freshest ingredients on this earth. Black beans pureed with sauteed fresh garlic and red onion and then hit with little bit of lime juice. Fresh tomatoes diced to perfection and mixed with jalapenos, red onions, vinegar and cilantro. Guac. And the finishing touch – sliced jalapenos and radishes. Oh and artfully piped sour cream. Does anyone know a skilled nacho conservator by the way?

 

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Locked & Loaded Nachos

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Black beans

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper

Guac

  • 1 avocado
  • half a lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes to taste

Chips and assembly

  • sturdy tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • sour cream

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add in red onion and garlic. Saute for about 3 minutes until the onion is soft. Transfer onion mixture to a food processor and add black beans, lime juice, and ¼ cup water. Season with salt and pepper and process until smooth.

Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro and vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine avocado, lime juice, salt, pepper and red onion. Mix until smooth.

Preheat oven to 425. On a sheet pan, lay out your tortilla chips and top with dollops of the bean mixture and shredded cheese. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and top with guac, pico de gallo, sliced jalapenos, radishes, and a drizzle of sour cream. Devour. They’re insane.

Panang Tofu Curry

Mondays are rough. Not quite as bad as Sunday nights, which are pretty much the lowest depth of misery, but pretty darn close. You’ve got the weekend behind you, with all those glorious calories you consumed, and a whole 5 days of work ahead. It’s bleak, people. That’s why you need a bright, flavorful veggie dish to tide you over until your next nacho and margarita binge… tomorrow night. This dish is not hard to make and proves yet again that coconut milk makes everything better.  Tofu, butternut squash, cauliflower, potato, red pepper and carrots nestled in a delicious sauce flavored with garlic, onions, spices, peanut butter (!!!) and coconut milk. Serve with rice to soak up all that delicious goodness. You’re welcome.

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Panang Tofu Curry

Adapted from Bon Appetit 

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 tbsp finely grated peeled giner

4 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

a few shakes of red chili flakes

1 cup water

1 14-oz can of coconut milk

zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 14-ounce package of firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 peeled carrots cut into coins

1 peeled potato cut into 1 inch cubes

1 peeled butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes

1 red pepper, chopped

1 head of cauliflower, broken up into bite size pieces

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, ginger, and garlic; cook until onions are tender. Add peanut butter, turmeric, cumin, and chili flakes; stir for about 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup water,  coconut milk, lime zest and juice, and brown sugar; bring to  simmer. Season with salt. Add tofu, carrots, cauliflower, butternut squash, potato, red pepper and simmer over medium heat until carrots are tender. Stir occasionally and cook for about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve with rice and garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

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Enjoying some corn on the cob over the weekend.

 

 

Tolafel

“Where does Liz Lemon go when she’s out on the town? To the Barnes & Noble bathroom!” To no one’s surprise, Liz Lemon knows what’s up yet again. Not only does Barnes and Noble offer a free, semi-clean bathroom but the place also boasts an extensive collection of cookbooks! I found myself in a Barnes and Noble recently and not only did I use their restroom, but I perused the shiz out of their cookbook section. After learning about the Moosewood cookbooks recently, I began to pour over the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites cookbook. This vegetarian gem offers a wide array of delicious sounding recipes, like tolafel, a tofu-falafel hybrid that’s packed with protein and veggies. The patties are baked, not fried and make a very satisfying dinner. I roasted up some eggplant slices and made a quick Israeli salad to go alongside the tolafel. Throw in some Israeli pickles and hummus and hop on the express bus to tolafel town.  And the next time you find yourself in a Barnes and Noble, make your way over to the cookbook section and you too may find a weeknight dinner keeper. 

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Tolafel

From the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites Cookbook

12 oz block of extra firm tofu (pressed to remove excess water)

16 oz can of chickpeas

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

3 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/4 cup tahina

sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for about 7 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for another 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the sesame oil, turmeric, and coriander and cook for another minute. In a food processor combine the chickpeas, tofu (broken into crumbles by hand), lemon juice, soy sauce, tahina and parsley and pulse until combined. Place the mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the pepper and onion mixture. Stir until combined. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Form patties using about a 1/2 cup of the mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 35-40 minutes.

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Nelly Frittata

I love breakfast. Omelettes, lox and bagels, waffles, pancakes, these are the foods that really excite and motivate me to get out of bed where my true breakfast of  cereal and Folgers Coffee awaits me. On Sunday mornings, however, I have time to leisurely drink my French press coffee, read The New York Times  my Facebook newsfeed and cook some real breakfast. This frittata in a frying pan is one of my favorite breakfasts to make. It’s easy and very adjustable. Throw in any vegetables in your fridge that are nearing their end, a couple of eggs and some cheese (feta, goat cheese, parmesan or cheddar would be perfect) and you’re golden. Putting the pan under the broiler creates a golden crust on top and eliminates any qualms about runny eggs.

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Frying Pan Frittata

4 eggs

1/4 cup diced green onions

1/4 cup diced yellow peppers

1/4 cup diced tomatoes

handful of mushrooms

handful of spinach leaves

salt and pepper

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

2 tbsp fresh parsley

olive oil

Turn your oven to the broiler setting. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil  in a frying pan over medium heat and add your veggies and saute until  the veggies are soft. Whisk eggs up, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and pour the eggs into the frying pan. Sprinkle goat cheese and chopped parsley over the egg mixture. Loosen edges with spatula and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 or so minutes. Place your pan under the broiler for maybe 3-5 minutes until golden on top. Cut frittata into slices.

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Fa-la-la-la-lafel

Tis the season to eat vegetarian Middle Eastern cuisine.  And what better way to get into the holiday spirit than whipping up some falafel for the whole Fam Damily? Homemade falafel is really delicious and pretty easy to make.  Lots of parsley, spices and lemon juice make these fried balls extra special. Crisp veggies, tehina, and sour pickles  add the perfect balance of freshness to this classic Israeli sandwich, or as they say in the holy land, “sand-veeech.” Put your reindeer sweater on, pour yourself a glass of eggnog and fry up some fa-la-la-la-lafel balls tonight. And don’t forget to put some hummus and pita out for Kfar SabaClaus!

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Falafel 

Based on the goddess of fine living, Martha Stewart’s recipe

15 oz can of chickpeas

2 garlic cloves

1 small onion

1/4 cup parsley

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

3/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp fresh mint

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 egg

1/2 cup vegetable oil (come on it’s the holidays, put your fat pants on!)

Put half the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Put the rest of the chickpeas in the processor with the garlic, lemon juice, salt, spices, parsley and baking soda and pulse until it becomes a thick paste. Lightly beat your egg and mix everything together in your large mixing bowl. Let the mixture chill for 30 minutes. The chilling is a VERY important step, I neglected to wait the full 30 and ended up with a bit of a falafel hash. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter into the oil and cook turning once until golden brown. Place balls on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

Serve with fresh pita bread, simple Israeli salad (diced cucumbers and tomatoes with equal parts olive oil and fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper) sliced Israeli style sour pickles, tehina, and really any other falafel accoutrements you like. Ho-Ho-Ho-Hommus anyone?

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Veggie Chili

This is a great recipe to make without much advance planning as most of the ingredients are already in your kitchen. A can of beans, a can of crushed tomatoes, a pepper,  some Morningstar crumblers (if you’re feeling rich, that shit’s expensive), some spices and before you know it you’re eating a bowl of chili. Lucky you.
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Veggie Chili

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup of chopped onions

2 stalks of celery diced

3 cloves of garlic

1 bay leaf (what the heck do these guys do?)

1 package of Morningstar crumblers

1 green pepper

1 small can of corn

1 big azz can of crushed tomatoes

1 can of white beans

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a big soup pot and add the onions, bay leaf, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until onion is soft, then add green pepper, celery, garlic and cook for 5 more minutes. Add Morningstar crumblers, turn heat down and let it cook for another 5 minutes covered. Take the cover off and add your chili powder, can of tomatoes and white beans and bring to a boil. Lower hear and simmer for 35 minutes. Stir in corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste that shiz and adjust to your liking. I served with some shredded cheddar (the real kind not the money kind) and a dollop of sour cream or you could use Greek yogurt.