Eggplant Cannelloni

Eggplant Cannelloni

The last few months have been go, go, go, which has meant fewer posts to the blog, less time to photograph recipes, 😭 and learning to cut myself a break every once in a while.

Somehow, yesterday was April and today it's September. September thirteenth. Back in April my mantra was, "You can't do literally everything," but somewhere between then and now, my mantra became nothing but a string of words, as I continued to ignore their meaning. So, today, I'm trying out this new mantra: Cut yourself a break. It means going easy on yourself when you've been trying your hardest. It means giving yourself a pass when you need it most.

Eggplant Cannelloni

In the midst of my mantra-creating and mantra-forgetting, our stockpile of eggplants has been growing: Not a day goes by that I don't have at least three of them sitting in our fruit bowl, staring me back. This year I planted six varieties, next year I'll plant two: Fengyuan and Black Beauty. 

  • Edirne - these were the first to fruit, but they're my least favorite to eat. other than their pretty green and purple stripes, they are just a little bitter and not as tasty.
  • Antigua - these are my favorite to look at but they are quite small, better for slicing in half and roasting with some harissa or something of the sort.
  • Fengyuan - my most copious producer, I freakin' love these eggplants. They are long (17 inches!), skinny and usually make a "J" shape. They are absolutely delicious when stir fried with some garlic and Thai basil.
  • Ping Tung - I also like these for stir fries, but for whatever reason I prefer the Fengyuan... no need to grow both, they are so similar! 
  • Black Beauty and Florida - speaking of similar, I can barely tell these two plants apart. I think I like the black beauty ones the most (we have gotten some massive eggplants from those plants). In any case, they are the best variety for recipes like this cannelloni, where you want wide strips, or this roasted eggplant salad. They're also the variety you usually find at the grocery store. 

Ok, don't quote me on the only growing two varieties thing. But those are my favorite so far this season. Have you ever grow eggplants? What were your favorite varieties? 

Basket of Eggplants from the Garden
Eggplant Cannelloni

Normally I'd suggest serving this with a glass of red, but I happened to also be making a batch of this Fig & Pear White Wine Sangria, so of course I had to have a glass of that instead. 

P.S., if you like this recipe, you'll LOVE this Zucchini Ricotta Manicotti. 😋

Eggplant Cannelloni

Published September 13, 2018 by
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Serves: 6-8   |    Active Time: 40 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized eggplants
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1 pound beef
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • Directions:

    1. Light grill set flame to medium. Slice eggplant into strips the long way. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil, and them place on grill, cooking for about 5 minutes before flipping. Eggplant slices should have char marks on the outside and be softened through. Remove from heat, turn off grill, and set eggplant aside.
    2. Heat coconut oil in a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat until it glistens. Add diced onion and minced garlic and sauté until onions are transparent.
    3. Add beef to skillet. Brown beef, using a wooden spatula to create crumbles as it cooks. When beef is browned, add 1/2 cup marinara sauce to the pan and stir. Turn off heat.
    4. Allow beef mixture and eggplant to cool just enough so they can be handled before proceeding to next step. (Warm is fine, just avoid burning yourself!)
    5. Prepare baking dish: spread remaining 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x9 or 7x12 baking dish.
    6. Work with one eggplant strip at a time. Lay it out in front of you, with the short end towards you, and place about 2 tablespoons of beef mixture in the center of the strip. Roll the strip around the beef, rolling in the opposite direction of your body. Place rolled eggplant in the baking dish, with the “seam” down. Repeat this step until all eggplant strips are used.
    7. Sprinkle top of cannelloni with mozzarella and then parmesan, and place in oven. Set broiler to high and broil for 5-10 minutes, until cheese and sauce are bubbling. Serve hot.

    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

    Boise is surrounded by golden hills, many of them charred by grass fires. But don’t be deceived: just and hour north, you’ll be among the trees, an hour further and the grass turns green, and just thirty minutes more, you’ll come around the bend into McCall and spot Payette lake, backdropped by Brundage Mountain. This is where we spent the end of August— in a cabin with family. 

    We visited just two weeks after the annual huckleberry festival, but there were plenty of wild blackberries at the farmers market still, something you don’t see much of in the front range of Colorado! So of course, I had to take that inspiration and run with it— creating a massive list of things to make (yes, I do seem to have a thing for lists). And perhaps I’ll plant some berries in my yard next spring... blackberries, blueberries, and gooseberries too. 

    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash
    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

    Between blackberries, we hit the trails, exploring the Payette Lake peninsula and Bear Basin on mountain bikes. On the hottest day, we rented a paddle board and kayak— the river north of town is breathtaking. 

    McCall is truly a gem of a mountain town! Outdoor enthusiasts— put this on your list. You get the strangest feeling riding your bike through the woods, like you’ve been transported to the Red Wood Forest, minus the heat! I'll be sharing a few pictures in my monthly newsletter in just a few days -- sign up here

    Baked Ricotta with Blackberry-Thyme Smash

    Published September 6, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6-8   |    Active Time: 40 minutes



    Ingredients:

    Baked Ricotta:
  • 2 cups of full fat ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup tablespoons Parmesan (divided in 2 parts)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A few cracks pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Blackberry-Thyme Smash:
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries, divided
  • 3 sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • For serving: crackers, crostinis, and/or crudités of choice

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 50-ounce capacity (about 3 cups) ramekin, baking dish, or cheese baker with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
    2. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, lemon zest, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
    3. Using a spatula, transfer the cheese mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan. (Note: Do not over fill your baking dish. Make the cheese level or below the top rim of the baking dish (if needed, divide the cheese between two baking dishes. This will prevent overflow and a mess in your oven!).
    4. Place in oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Parmesan on top should begin to turn golden.
    5. While the cheese is cooking, make the Blackberry-Thyme Smash: place 1 cup black berries, leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme, juice of 1/2 lemon, pinch of salt, and honey in a bowl and mash with a fork until a saucy, jammy mixture is created. Add in remaining 1/2 cup whole berries (for texture).
    6. Spoon Blackberry Smash mixture over baked cheese, and top with a sprig of thyme as garnish. Serve while cheese is still warm with crackers, crostinis, or crudités.

    Gluten-Free Sage & Honey Corn Bread

    Gluten-Free Sage & Honey Corn Bread
    Sage

    Make my coffee, and head to the garden -- this has become my morning routine. I'm hoping to share a slice of that with you in the next week or so (currently going through a pile of photos)! But today, here's one recent discovery I've had: sage in corn bread. 

    I've put hatch chilies in corn bread, jalapeños, fresh corn kernels, and even sautéd red onion, but never sage. But the sage is exploding the herb garden, so I've been scratching my head trying to come up with summery things to make with it (I'm not quite ready for a fall themed sausage or a roast chicken, which would require me to turn on the oven, and stuffing season is still a ways off). So why not? Throw that sage in corn bread (which I bake in our toaster oven (affiliate link!), in the garage, to keep the house nice and cool).

    Gluten-Free Sage & Honey Corn Bread

    Warm, with a pat butter, this corn bread makes for an absolutely delicious side served with chili, soups, or even barbeque beans! I'll eat it with a fried egg for breakfast, too. You could also bake each loaf in a mini-loaf pan, topped with a single sage leaf, and gift them to friends and neighbors. 

    If you grow your own sage, or know someone that does, this recipe is a must-make in late summer or early fall, and it turns out so pretty! 

    Enjoy! 

    Gluten-Free Sage & Honey Corn Bread
    Gluten-Free Sage & Honey Corn Bread

    Gluten-Free Sage & Honey Corn Bread

    Published August 30, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 30-40 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, cooled + 1 pat of butter for greasing pan
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoon fresh sage, minced plus 6 whole sage leaves for top of bread

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 1 pat of butter in the a 10-inch pan (a pie pan, an oven-safe cast iron skillet, or a baking dish) and place in oven while it preheats.
    2. In a medium size mixing bowl, stir together the corn meal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
    3. Add yogurt, butter, egg, and honey, and stir using a rubber spatula until a batter forms. Fold in minced sage.
    4. Using oven mitts, pull baking pan from oven. Tilt it back and forth to grease the pan evenly. Pour batter into pan, spreading into even layer with a spatula. Arrange the 6 whole sage leaves on top as desired.
    5. Place pan in preheated oven and bake for 20-30 minutes (shorter time is needed for a cast iron pan — more for a glass dish). Test doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle. The toothpick should come out clean, and the top of the bread should be golden. Allow to cool 5 minutes and serve with butter and honey.