We did a bit of tag-teaming in the kitchen, today. We picked a bit of produce from the yard and had to think of ways to use it. I’ve had friends for years that have had CSA shares and have spoken about getting massive amounts of something in their boxes and being at a loss as to what to do.
We didn’t exactly have massive amounts of anything – yet – but three eggplants is a lot for me.
And there are more where those came from!
I have wanted to do a stuffed eggplant since the day we planted them, and tonight I got my wish. The other two became caponata.
5 pints went downstairs to join the if Trump gets elected we’re screwed hoard. And one went into the ‘fridge for snacking.
While I was stuffing eggplant and making caponata, Victor was making a baked pasta using the crookneck squash – another vegetable that is taking over out there. Thank goodness these are things we like!
The recipes all come from Lidia.
Baked Zucchini and Shells
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 pound crookneck squash, sliced
- One 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 3/4 pound sheels
- 1 tbsp butter
- 8 ounces shredded Fontina
- 1 cup grated Grana Padano
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add the onion, and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the squash, and cook until it begins to soften, another 5 minutes. Add the salt, then the crushed tomatoes with 1 cup water. Bring the sauce to a boil, and simmer just until it thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes, but don’t let the squash begin to fall apart. Then toss in the chopped basil.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente, a few minutes shy of the package directions. Drain the pasta, and toss it in the skillet with the tomato sauce and basil.4. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, toss together the two cheeses. Spread half the pasta and sauce in the baking dish, and top with half the cheese. Layer the remaining pasta and sauce, then the remaining cheese.
5. Bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
And the Caponata:
- 2 lbs eggplant
- 2-1/2 tsp salt
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 medium onions, peeled cut in 1-1/2 inch chunks
- 2 cups celery, trimmed cut in 1-inch chunks
- 1 cup cerignola or other large green brine-cured olives, pitted and cut in ½-inch pieces
- 1 pound fresh plum tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup small capers, drained
- 10 large fresh basil leaves
Trim the eggplants and slice them (skin on) into chunks about 2-inches long and 1-inch thick. Toss the chunks with 2 teaspoons of salt and drain in a colander for 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse and pat them dry with paper towels.
Meanwhile pour the red wine vinegar and ½ cup water into the small pan, stir in the sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half and syrupy, then remove from the heat.
Slice the onions into 1-1/2 pieces—you should have about 4 cups. Trim the celery stalks (and peel them if they’re tough and stringy) then chop in 1-inch chunks. Slice the plum tomatoes lengthwise into 1-inch thick wedges; scrape out the seeds and put the wedges in a sieve to drain off the juices. Roughly chop the pitted olives into ½-inch pieces.
To fry the eggplant, pour the cup of vegetable oil into the skillet and set over medium heat. Spread all the eggplant chunks in the hot oil and fry for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing and stirring frequently, until the eggplant is soft and cooked through and nicely browned on all sides. Turn off the heat, lift the chunks out of the oil with a slotted spoon and spread them on paper towels to drain. Discard the frying oil and wipe out the skillet.
Pour ¼ cup of the olive oil in the skillet and set it over medium heat. Stir in the onion and celery chunks, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, tossing often, until they’ve wilted and lightly colored, 8 minutes or so. Toss in the olives and the capers, heat quickly until sizzling, then scatter in the tomatoes wedges and fold them in with the other vegetables. Season with another ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until the tomatoes are hot and softened but still holding their shape, about 5 minutes.
Spread the eggplant chunks on top of the onions and tomatoes, still over medium heat, and turn them in gently with a big spoon or spatula. When everything is sizzling, pour the vinegar syrup all over and stir it in. Cook a bit longer, then drizzle another couple tablespoons of olive oil over and stir in.
Cook the vegetables together for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. Tear the basil leaves into shreds and stir them into the caponata. Taste and adjust the seasonings; let cool to room temperature and serve.
And the stuffed eggplant.
Melanzane Ripiene alla Pugliese
- 6 small or 2 medium/large eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup grated Grana Padano
- 1 cup grated Itallian Fontina
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Halve the eggplants lengthwise. Scoop out any seeds, then scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/2 inch shell. Cut the eggplant flesh into small cubes. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season the inside of the eggplant shells with 1 teaspoon of salt., then brown them, cut side down, in the oil, about 2 minutes. Remove and place in an oiled baking dish, cut side up.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the eggplant flesh and garlic. Once the eggplant has begun to wilt, add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper and cook until the eggplant is tender but the tomatoes retain their shape, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, stir in half the cheeses, parsley, and mint. Stuff the filling into the eggplant shells and sprinkle with the additional cheese. Cover with foil, and bake until the eggplant shells are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until the top is browned, about 10 to 15 minutes more.
I used one good-sized eggplant and just adjusted the filling ingredients. I also used one of the peppers from the garden in place of the red pepper flakes.
It was a great dinner and we have caponata downstairs for treats this winter – if they last that long!