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.

    Chickpea Antipasto Salad

    Chickpea Antipasto Salad

    In the kitchen, there is the sound of a ticking clock. From the open sliding door on my right, the leaves rustling in the breeze. The high today is seventy-one degrees. The last time I could say that was probably early April, and it feels like a treat. 

    We had no idea what to expect when we arrived in McCall. Boise is surrounded by golden dry hills, the city itself an sprawl of big box department stores. But the further north you go the more trees you find, and the grasses begin to turn green. As you coast down the road into McCall's center you spot Lake Payette, like a gem in the rough. 

    Here, I'm going to be soaking up the cooler weather -- currently drinking orange cinnamon tea - but back home, I'm still defaulting to no-cook, no-bake, minimal effort meals, like this Chickpea Antipasto Salad. 

    This dish is a bit like pasta salad, minus the pasta, and all you do is mix. That's right: skip the oven, skip the stove, and even skip dishes -- it's a one-bowl wonder. 

    Now, back to my seventy degree weather! I've got a vacation to enjoy! 

    Chickpea Antipasto Salad
    Chickpea Antipasto Salad

    Chickpea Antipasto Salad

    Published August 23, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4-6   |    Active Time: 10 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 2 sixteen-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, quartered and drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives, pitted and drained
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup feta crumbles
  • Optional: serve over a bed of butterhead lettuce

  • Directions:

    1. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir to combine.
    2. Serve immediately, or make a day ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    3. Optionally, serve over a bed of butterhead lettuce leaves.

    Peach-Jalapeño Grilled Chicken

    Peach-Jalapeño Grilled Chicken
    Peach-Jalapeño Grilled Chicken

    We got a grill. WE GOT A GRILL! 

    Over the last two years, I've slowly but steadily growing a list of "things I'll make when we get a grill," but we held out, looking for a good deal. And, after two years of waiting? Not once did we spot a grill on sale that was also a grill we wanted. But earlier this month, we finally got a grill off of Craigslist -- a steal, really. 

    And oh have we been grilling. Chicken. Sausages. Fish for tacos. Even brussels sprouts. This recipe is one of the highlights for me so far, something that I started working on B.G. (before grill 😏) but could get quite right until we had a grill. Nothing like cooking over an open flame! 

    I have been super crazy for peaches lately, gobbling them up fresh every day. This recipe using peach preserves, and fresh grilled peaches make for a sweet side. Jalapeños add some zing, along with a bit of fresh ginger. It's a spicy, sticky, sweet, savory combo that screams summer, Perfect with a side salad or grilled veggies. 

    Peach-Jalapeño Grilled Chicken
    Peach-Jalapeño Grilled Chicken

    Peach-Jalapeño Grilled Chicken

    Published July 31, 2018 by
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    Serves: 2-3   |    Active Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup peach preserves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 pound chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts)
  • For serving: 1-2 peaches, cilantro for garnish, lime wedges, fresh jalapeño slices

  • Directions:

    1. Whisk together the peach preserves, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and jalapeño in the bottom of a medium-sized mixing bowl.
    2. Heat grill with a medium-high flame. When the grill is hot, place the chicken on the grate and close the lid. Allow the chicken to cook for 3 minutes with out moving to get good sear marks. Then, flip to the second side.
    3. Cook chicken breasts until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (I use this Instant Read Thermometer, and it’s great (affiliate link!))
    4. If serving with grilled peaches: slice peaches in half and remove the pit. Lightly oil the fleshy side of each peach (use a high-heat oil such as coconut) and place on the grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes, undisturbed.
    5. Remove chicken from heat, and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve hot with lime wedges and fresh jalapeño slices.