Roasted Eggplant & Lentil Soup with Fried Sage

I made this healthy and hearty soup with beautiful eggplant from a friend’s garden. I was also able to make one of my favorite eggplant dishes with her amazing harvest, Eggplant and Wild Mushroom “Meatballs.”

The soup was initially more fluid, but I preferred it re-heated and cooked down, as pictured. We scooped it up with fresh Portuguese Rolls. Perfect.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.

Yield: Serves 4

  • one 1 1/4-pound eggplant, quartered lengthwise (I used 2 small)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup French green lentils (5 1/2 ounces) 
  • 14 large sage leaves, divided, plus more, as desired, for garnish
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 cup 1% milk 
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Place the eggplant quarters on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 sage leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander and discard the sage leaves.
  4. Scrape the eggplant flesh into a blender; discard the skin. Add 1 cup of the stock and puree until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Add the lentils and the remaining 1 cup of stock to the blender and puree until smooth. Add the lentil puree to the eggplant puree in the saucepan.
  6. Stir the milk and lemon juice into the soup and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper; keep the soup hot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining 12 sage leaves and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 20 seconds per side.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the fried sage leaves and serve.

The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

It seems like a good time to share more cookie recipes. 😉

Before the holidays, I started receiving weekly cookie emails (I subscribed :/ ) from The New York Times- a pretty dangerous and crazy idea! This “pantry cookie” recipe caught my eye right away. A crowd-pleaser for sure.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. The recipe starts by creaming the sugar with eggs rather than butter. The end result is a cookie with a crusty exterior and chewy interior. Cracks also form on the surface which are highlighted by the essential glaze. Great.

Yield: 15 to 16 cookies

  • 1 cup/95 grams old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1 cup/128 grams all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 packed cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 4 T/57 grams unsalted butter, melted 
  • 3/4 cup/92 grams confectioners’ sugar 
  • 5 teaspoons whole or oat milk, plus more as needed 
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and line two large rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat both sugars with the egg, cinnamon, vanilla and baking soda on high speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until glossy, pale and thick, a full 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium. Very slowly drizzle in the melted butter and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add the oat mixture and gently fold by hand using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, drop 15 golf ball-size mounds of dough onto the sheet pan, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. (I used a 1 1/2 T cookie scoop.)
  7. Bake until the edges and surface are set and lightly golden brown, but the center is still gooey, 10 to 11 minutes on convection or up to 12 to 14 minutes in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately rap the cookie sheet on the counter or stovetop a couple of times to help the cookies flatten a little more, and cool on the sheet for 5 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar and milk using a small whisk or fork until the icing is completely smooth and very thick but still moves if you tilt the bowl. Add more milk in small increments as needed. (I add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time to make sure the consistency is not too thin.)
  10. Dip only the very tops of the cookies into the bowl of icing, leaving the deeper cracks in the cookies uncoated and allowing any excess icing to drip back into the bowl.
  11. Flip the cookies over and return them to the cookie sheet to allow the icing to harden, 10 to 15 minutes. The iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

One additional note about special cookies….

My oldest just had his 17th birthday! He is DRIVING. We celebrated with several family favorites- enjoying Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano Tacos (first celebration), Thai One Pot (second!), a Maple Layer Cake, and, most importantly, with our traditional Number Cookies– two versions, Roman numerals are his preference. 🙂

Greek Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

This flavor-packed weeknight dish was included in Milk Street Magazine’s “Tuesday Nights” series which features weeknight dishes with bold and fresh flavors. I have found that meatballs that incorporate a panade, hydrated breadcrumbs, are very tender- great.

The recipe was adapted from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Calvin Cox. According to the original article, these Greek oblong shaped meatballs are known as soutzoukakia smyrneika. Traditionally, they are served with tiganites patates (potatoes fried in olive oil). We ate them with crusty bread to sop up every bit of sauce. The dish could also be served with roasted potatoes or a rice or orzo pilaf.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 large garlic cloves, 2 finely gratedn(I used a garlic press), 1 thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the panko, egg and 1/2 cup water, then mix until homogeneous. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the panko to hydrate. (This step is very important in order to create soft and tender meatballs.)
  2. Add the pork, cumin, the grated (or pressed) garlic, 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon oregano, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, then mix well.
  3. Divide into 11 or 12 portions (each about a scant 1/4 cup), then shape each into a 2 1/2-inch-long cigar (oblong) shape.
  4. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. (Non-stick can be used; I used a 12-inch stainless all-in-one pan.)
  5. Add the meatballs and cook without disturbing until browned on the bottoms, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the meatballs and cook until browned on the second sides, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
  7. Return the skillet to medium-high and add the sliced garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  9. Stir in the tomatoes, cinnamon, honey and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, then bring to a simmer.
  10. Place the meatballs in the pan and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer, undisturbed, until the centers of the meatballs reach 160°F, 12 to 14 minutes.
  11. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  12. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to serving dish. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano.

Creamy Broccoli Pasta

Growing up, my mom frequently made what we referred to as “white spaghetti” (aka spaghetti without red sauce!). The pasta was coated with garlicky olive oil and topped with crispy garlic slices, broccoli florets, and Parmesan cheese. Classic. 🙂

This version is from Old World Italian: Recipes & Secrets from Our Travels in Italy by Mimi Thorisson. The recipe is included in the “Roman Pastas” section of this beautiful book. It is a little bit more indulgent than my mom’s rendition because it contains more cheese as well as heavy cream. I loved that the broccoli was chopped and incorporated into the creamy sauce.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 large head broccoli and stems (about 1 pound or 450g), cut into small florets and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound (500g) dried spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 garlic clove(s), minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups (115g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the broccoli and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Remove with a kitchen spider or slotted spoon and set aside, keeping the water boiling to cook the pasta.
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups (500ml) of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the empty pot and set aside.
  4. Chop the onion and mince the garlic in a food processor. Set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Add the onion and sauté until tender and golden, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
  8. Add the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Pour the cream over the mixture and cook for 15 seconds. Remove from heat.
  10. Transfer the broccoli mixture to a food processor and process until roughly creamy.
  11. Add the broccoli sauce and a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water to the pot of pasta and set the pot over medium heat. Cook, tossing frequently, adding more pasta water as needed to adjust the consistency, until the pasta is well coated, 1 to 2 minutes.
  12. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving bowl, if desired. Scatter the grated Parmesan on top and serve immediately.

Pesto-ish Risotto

Every fall, black swallowtail caterpillars takeover my backyard basil plants. I needed to make this basil-loaded dish before sharing my plants with them. :/

This risotto was rich, creamy, and hearty. The absolute highlight of the finished dish was the crispy garlic and pan-toasted pine nut topping. Loved it.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Christian Reynoso. I adapted the original recipe to prepare it in a pressure cooker. Easy and elegant.

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 5 to 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) raw pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (loosely packed) basil leaves (from 1 large bunch), torn into 1″ pieces
  • shaved or finely grated Parmesan, for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 5 or 7 quart pressure cooker over medium heat.
  2. Add the rice and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring, until grains are partially translucent, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  3. Add 2 cloves of garlic slices and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add all of the unheated stock; stir.
  5. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat.
  6. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure. Cook for 7 minutes.
  7. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions or place the pot under running cold water. (I used a quick release method.)
  8. Carefully open the lid, being careful of the steam. The stock should be almost completely absorbed but the rice will be covered with a thick layer of milky broth. (more stock can be added at this point if the risotto appears too thick)
  9. Meanwhile, cook the remaining 6 cloves of garlic slices, olive oil, and pine nuts in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic starts to turn golden around edges. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often, until pine nuts and garlic are golden, about 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat; stir in turmeric and season with pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  11. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the Parmesan rind, if using, into the risotto. Season with salt, to taste.
  12. Stir the freshly squeezed lemon juice into the risotto and add freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  13. Stir basil into risotto.
  14. Ladle risotto, discarding the Parmesan rind, into shallow bowls. Top with garlic–pine nut oil and Parmesan. Serve.

Caramelized Pork & Cucumber Stir-Fry

I have never cooked cucumbers before! The cucumber slices in this stir-fry were quickly sautéed until just crisp tender- great. I also loved the seasonings in the finished dish.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Christina Chaey. I used my largest skillet (14-inch) but would use a 12-inch next time. I don’t have a 14-inch splatter screen and I made quite a mess. :/ It was worth it.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 large English/European cucumber, peeled in alternating lengthwise strips, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, halves sliced crosswise on a diagonal 1/2-inch thick (I used a melon baller to remove the seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal), plus more
  • 2 T oyster sauce
  • 2 T soy sauce (I used Trader Joe’s light soy sauce)
  • 2 T Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or medium-dry sherry (I used dry sherry)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3 T grapeseed or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 Fresno chile, halved, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 one-inch piece ginger root, peeled, finely grated
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground white or black pepper
  • white rice, for serving (I used white Basmati rice)
  • minced cilantro, for garnish, optional
  1. Toss cucumber slices and kosher salt in a medium bowl to coat evenly. Let sit until cucumber slices start to release their liquid, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, stir oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sherry (or Shaoxing wine) in a small bowl to combine; set aside.
  3. Using your hands, form pork into six small patties. Season lightly with salt; set aside.
  4. Drain cucumber slices in a colander and rinse well under cool running water. Drain, shaking off any excess water, then pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet (12-inch) over medium-high. Cook cucumber slices, tossing vigorously, until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.
  6. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high.
  7. Add reserved pork patties; gently flatten with a spatula. Cook, pressing occasionally to help meat make contact with pan, until deeply browned and crisp underneath, about 4 minutes.
  8. Flip patties; cook until other side is deeply browned and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  9. Break up pork into large pieces; continue to cook until no longer pink, about 1 minute.
  10. Add chile, ginger, garlic, and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  11. Add cucumber back to skillet along with reserved sauce. Cook, tossing often, until sauce is reduced and evenly coats pork and cucumber slices, about 1 minute.
  12. Serve stir-fry over rice. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Sausage, Beans & Greens Pasta

This is a great end of summer ~ early fall dish. I loved that it gobbled up my CSA collards and chard. I really love any dish that transforms greens into a crowd-pleaser! 🙂 The mashed beans made the sauce creamy.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz, via epicurious.com. I used garbanzo beans and a mix of collard greens, Swiss chard, and spinach. I also substituted sweet Italian sausage and modified the proportions. The fried rosemary garnish was essential.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1/3 cup (5 T) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 8 to 10 oz sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (I used 3 sweet sausages)
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas or cannellini beans, rinsed, patted dry
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 16 oz (1 pound) paccheri, rigatoni, or other large tubular pasta (I used pennoni pasta)
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 to 10 cups (lightly packed) cut or torn escarole, kale, or Swiss chard leaves (I used 1/4-inch ribbons stemmed and halved collard greens, 1/2-inch ribbons stemmed Swiss chard (stems cut into 1/4-inch pieces and reserved), & baby spinach)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium to medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Fry rosemary, turning, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  3. Add sausage to same pot and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a shallow bowl.
  4. Add chickpeas to pot and cook, tossing occasionally and mashing some chickpeas with a spoon, until browned in spots, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer about half of chickpeas to plate with sausage.
  5. Add wine to pot (and add the Swiss chard stems, if using), bring to a boil, and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.
  7. Using a spider or a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with chickpeas and add the greens and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing often, until the greens are wilted, pasta is al dente, and sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add another 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add 1/2 cup cheese, tossing until melted and dissolved into a luxurious, glossy sauce.
  9. Thin with more pasta cooking liquid if needed. Season with pepper, and more salt if needed. Add butter and toss to combine, then mix in reserved sausage and chickpeas.
  10. Divide pasta among bowls or place in a large serving dish. Crumble fried rosemary over top and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

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