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.

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    Thai Basil Beef

    Thai Basil Beef

    When our friends Thomas and Leah showed up at the house a weeks ago, the first thing they said was they had been thinking about getting Thai food for dinner. This was accepted with a round of “Oo, great idea!” and “Yesss,” comments, until someone remembered it was Sunday: our favorite Thai restaurant is closed on Sundays. This is something we typically remember when we are already halfway there.  

    But it was settled, in my mind at least: we would have Thai for dinner. I would just have to make it myself. I’m no stranger to making Thai Curry — we have it at home all the time. But for this dinner I wanted to 1) use up some ingredients already in the fridge and 2) learn to make something new.

    I came up with a list of four options and then made everyone vote. My mom always said I was “very diplomatic.” 👩🏻‍⚖️ When the votes were in, I got to work: garlic, Thai basil, and even a few Thai chilies. 

    Thai Basil Beef
    Thai Basil Beef

    The one place I cut corners when making Thai food is the fish sauce: it’s just not an ingredient I have in the house, and as someone who didn’t grow up on it, I don’t miss the fishy notes when they’re not there. That’s just me— feel free to use fish sauce in place of the Worcestershire sauce in this recipe for a more traditional experience. 

    Besides, my favorite part is the basil. Plenty of basil, and I’m all smiles. This summer I’ll be growing a BUNCH of Thai basil. I just love how fresh, sweet, and complex the flavor is.

    Serve this Thai Basil Beef over the Instant Pot Coconut Rice published in the blog last week!

    Thai Basil Beef
    Thai Basil Beef

    Thai Basil Beef

    Published April 24, 2018 by
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    Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 20 minutes



    Ingredients:

    • 1 pound ground beef, 90% preferred, but 80% will work
    • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
    • 1/4 yellow onion, diced small
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce OR 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
    • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
    • 2-5 Thai chilies, depending on spice tolerance, minced (if you really don’t like spicy food, skip these all together)
    • 1 cup loosely packed Thai basil leaves 
    • Lime wedges, for serving 
    • Green onions for garnish
    • 2 cups coconut rice for serving

    Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat until it glistens. Add onion and garlic to the pan, and sauté until onion is transparent. Then, add beef to the pan. Cook beef, breaking it into crumbles with a wooden spatula, until browned evenly.
    2. NOTE: If you are your 80%/20% or other high-fat percentage beef, you may want to pour off the excess fat at this time, as it does not emulsify with the sauce super well.
    3. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce, and maple syrup, and stir. Then, add minced Thai chilies. Cook for 1 more minute, and then add basil, allowing basil to wilt. Stir into beef mixture.
    4. Serve hot over coconut rice, garnished with sliced green onions and lime wedges.

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    Slow Cooker Taco Soup

    This recipe was updated on 11/2/2018, with new images and a few recipe tweaks! It’s even better than the original.

    Slow Cooker Taco Soup
    Slow Cooker Taco Soup

    You sure do like the snow a lot for someone that hates the cold. 

    That's me. I'm a total whiner when it comes to being cold, but when I hear a big snow storm is on the way, I audibly cheer. If I hear it's already snowing, I run to the window to see for myself. There's something magical about the snow that makes me feel like I'm 5 years old again -- like the world is one giant mystery and I'm just a little explorer, trying to figure it out. Trucking through the snow, with the right mindset, is one of my favorite parts of winter. 

    But- back to that whining part. I'm a super wimp about being cold. Like, take my down coat with me on a hike in July kind of wimp. If I owned one of those giant down onesie suits they take to Mt. Everest, I'd probably bring that with me too.

    Slow Cooker Taco Soup
    Slow Cooker Taco Soup

    Being a snow-loving, cold-hating outdoorsy person, here's what I've learned:

    1. Warm mittens are a must. Notice I said mittens. They're way warmer than gloves. 

    2. Bring that coat. You wont regret it. Sure, it's possible you won't use it, but if there's a chance you'll use it, bring it. While we're talking about coats and mittens let's just jump to it and say, bring all of the clothes. Hats. Long underwear. Ear muffs. The whole lot.

    3. Bring snacks you love. Ok, you need lots of energy to stay warm and snacks, good snacks, give you energy and something to distract you from the cold. Why do you think people like hot chocolate so much?! My favorite winter outdoor outing snacks: paleo fudge, nuts, cheese, hot cocoa, "sugar plums," Epic bars, snowball cookies, and fruit. 

    4. Make sure there's warm food waiting for you at home, or a cozy restaurant worth stopping at when your adventure is over. Soup is a great idea. Lots of soup, with plenty of spices to heat you up.

    Aren't you feeling warmer just thinking about this big bowl of cozy soup?

    Slow Cooker Taco Soup

    Published February 18, 2016 by
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    Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 20 active minutes



    Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (or diced zucchini Paleo)
  • 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (about 1-2 peppers from the jar)
  • 1 4.5-ounce can green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of salt & pepper
  • 5 cups broth
  • Optional, to serve: jalapeño slices, cilantro, lime wedges, avocado, toasted tortilla strips (tortilla chips work too!)

  • Directions:

    1. In a large skillet, or the bottom of your slow cooker, sauté the diced onion, and minced garlic. Add the beef, breaking it up into grounds, and cook until browned. Once cooked, place in your slow cooker (if it is not already there).
    2. Now, add the bell peppers, corn, canned tomatoes, chipotle peppers, green chilies, spices and salt to the pot. Finally, add the broth.
    3. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
    4. To serve: ladle hot soup into bowls. Top with cilantro, jalapeño slices, lime wedges, and a toasted tortilla strips

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