Lentil & Orzo Stew with Lemon & Coriander-Spiced Roasted Eggplant

Happy 2019! I have a few healthy “January” recipes to share before getting back to my belated holiday menu recipes. 🙂

This wonderful stew was hearty and healthy. The flavors in the dish were brightened with lemon zest and juice. I also loved that the roasted eggplant was seasoned with crushed coriander seeds- it made it a more special topping.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. I doubled the recipe, increased the garlic and eggplant, decreased the oil, and used green lentils and feta cheese. Excellent.

Yield: 8 servings

  • roughly 3 pounds eggplant (I used 3 medium eggplant), chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 T olive oil, divided
  • 2 T coriander seeds, crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 cups dried lentils (green, black or brown)
  • 10 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock & 6 cups chicken stock)
  • 1 cup orzo or other small pasta
  • zest and juice from 2 lemons, plus lemon wedges for garnish
  • ÂĽ cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta, or to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on 2 parchment paper-lined large rimmed baking sheets and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.
  3. In a large stock pot, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.) Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.
  6. Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and crumbled feta or large shavings of ricotta salata. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing, as desired.

Pasta Alla Norma with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

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My son is learning about eating a balanced diet in Cub Scouts. He had to plan a balanced menu and then compare it to his actual diet. When he was sharing the “healthy food items” from his actual menu with his den, he included slow-roasted tomatoes. His den leader- who happens to be a chef- had such a huge reaction: “Wow! Who made slow-roasted tomatoes? They are so good for you!”. I was so proud. 🙂

I had made this Sicilian dish in the past and enjoyed it, so I knew that this time-consuming version would be worth it. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I nearly doubled the tomatoes, eggplant, and the ricotta salata- I prefer to have TONS of veggies on my pasta. 🙂 Fabulous!!

Time: 3-4 hours, mostly unattended

Yield: 4 servings

  • 50 grape or cherry tomatoes, depending on size, cut in half
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • 2-3 thyme sprigs, optional
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 1 3/4 pounds small to medium eggplants, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2/3 to 1 pound fresh pasta (I used fresh pappardelle)
  • 4 to 6 ounces ricotta salata, grated, diced small, or broken into small chunks
  • 20 basil leaves, torn
  1. Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Put the tomatoes in one layer in an ovenproof pan and drizzle them liberally with oil, then salt and sprinkle with thyme sprigs, if using. Roast for about an hour, then stir and roast for another half-hour or so.
  2. After the 1 1/2 hours, when tomatoes are shriveled, add garlic, turn down heat to 225 degrees and roast for at least another hour. They should not cook completely dry; if they threaten to overcook, turn the heat down or pull them out. Fish out the garlic if you like. (I left it in!)
  3. In a large cast iron skillet, sizzle the eggplant in about 1/4 inch of oil over medium heat. (cover with a splatter screen!) The oil should bubble steadily. Turn eggplant as needed until nicely browned, about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels, and when cool enough to handle, cut roughly into strips.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  5. Add the eggplant to the tomatoes and stir. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a bit of the pasta water.
  6. Cook the pasta and warm a serving bowl. At the bottom of the bowl put half the sauce and half the ricotta salata. Add the pasta and the remaining sauce, cheese and basil and toss.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

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Roasted Red Pepper, Corn, & Tomato Soup

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I had a BOUNTY of red peppers this year in my CSA share. I found this recipe on an extensive search for a creative use for them… last year I made Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce (link below) more than once, and, although delicious, I wanted something new! 🙂 (One can only eat so many red peppers in salad too…)

I was completely floored by this delicious soup. The color was incredible too. What a wonderful surprise! The roasted vegetables – especially the corn- gave it a fabulous depth of flavor. It was chili-esque. In fact, it was the BEST vegetarian “faux” chili I have ever tasted- and the BEST use for my bounty of CSA red peppers! (not to mention late-summer corn!) We ate it with green salad and popovers– but it would also be wonderful with cornbread. This recipe was adapted from Knead to Cook.com.

I’m bringing it to this week’s party over at The Novice Gardener. Happy Fiesta Friday #36!!

  • 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 3 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 6 red bell peppers or red long peppers
  • olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ricotta salata, for serving, optional
  • cilantro, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roast red peppers on a baking sheet 5-7 minutes a side, until charred. Turn over and repeat to char the other side. Cover with foil to steam. When cool enough to touch, remove skin, seeds, and stems. Roughly chop.
  3. On a cookie sheet drizzle a bit of olive oil. Remove the corn kernels from the cob; place on the cookie sheet. Add the tomatoes. Toss to coat with the olive oil, adding extra if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat, then add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and chopped red peppers and stir.
  5. Add the stock and spices to the red pepper mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  6. Add the roasted corn and tomatoes. Reserve some corn for a garnish, if desired. With an immersion blender, or working in batches with a food processor, puree until smooth. Continue to cook simmer for an additional 20 minutes or longer over a low flame.
  7. Serve garnished with reserved corn, a sprinkling of cheese, and/or cilantro, if desired.

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One Year Ago:

Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder

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Corn chowder made with fresh corn is heavenly. I make a Barefoot Contessa version in the late-summer/early-fall EVERY year. This chowder recipe is from one of my favorite blogs- I have a LONG long LONG list of her recipes bookmarked to try- this one was wonderful and I am sure it’s no exception. I adapted the recipe slightly by increasing the corn, potatoes, and garlic, using half & half in lieu of heavy cream, and by adding optional sour cream and cheese to offset the spiciness. So spicy!! So delicious!! This recipe was adapted from The Novice Gardener.

Servings: 6-8

  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 large Yukon-gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed into bite-size pieces
  • kernels from 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Fresh herbs (thyme, cilantro, and/or chives), chopped (I used a generous 1/2 cup of cilantro)
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • ricotta salata, for sprinkling, optional
  • sour cream, for serving, optional
  1. Roast poblanos either under the broiler or over direct flame on gas stove, until charred and blistered, about 5 minutes per side. Immediately place in a bag and seal or place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Peel the skins and remove seeds and membranes. Rinse chiles and then roughly chop.
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Broil until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes per side. Cube into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a large soup pot, heat oil; add onion, garlic, and celery. Sauté until vegetables are cooked. Add cumin, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add stock, potatoes, roasted poblanos, corn, and chicken. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender.
  5. Add half & half. Lower heat to a simmer.
  6. Add fresh herbs. Serve with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

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One Year Ago:

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Grilled Bread & Marinated Tomato Salad with Arugula

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This wonderful salad is an improvement on a classic panzanella. The arugula and grilled bread made it so fabulous we were fighting over the last bite. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ethan Stowell. Easy, pretty, and delicious!!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • coarse salt
  • 1 pound heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used my CSA beefsteak tomatoes)
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (1/2 inch thick) slices country bread (about 6 ounces) (I used Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane)
  • 1 bunch baby arugula (7 ounces)
  • 2-3 ounces ricotta salata, crumbled (heaping 1/2 cup)
  • kernels from 1 or 2 ears of corn (cooked in boiling water for 2 minutes), optional
  1. On a cutting board, using the flat side of a chef’s knife, mash the garlic clove to a paste with a pinch of salt; transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the tomatoes, onion, vinegar and 6 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture stand at room temperature, stirring a few times, for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.
  3. Light a grill. Brush the bread with olive oil and grill over high heat until toasted and lightly charred in spots, 1 minute per side. Let cool slightly, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  4. Add the bread and arugula to the tomatoes along with the ricotta salata and corn. Toss to combine. Serve right away.

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One Year Ago:

Pasta alla Norma

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I have always known that I liked eggplant but I now realize how much I LOVE eggplant! The past few dishes I have made that featured eggplant have been some of my favorites– Eggplant and Wild Mushroom “Meatballs” and Grilled Eggplant Parmesan. I am going to add this dish to that list.

This is a simple but wonderful dish fit to serve guests. I served it over fresh Italian Tagliatelle. The fresh pasta, fresh herbs, and the ricotta salata made it special. This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. We ate it with visiting family after enjoying Raspberry Cocktails and Bruschetta Rossa. GREAT!

Total Time: About 45 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds eggplant
  • Olive oil as needed (at least 1/2 cup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon good dried oregano, or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 1 pound long pasta (I used fresh Italian Tagliatelle)
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 to 1 cup grated ricotta salata (or in a pinch, pecorino Romano)
1.
Slice the eggplant about 1/2 inch thick. Cook in abundant olive oil, without crowding, sprinkling with salt and adding more oil as needed. You will undoubtedly have to cook in batches; take your time and cook until the eggplant is nicely browned and soft. Remove to a plate; do not drain on paper towels. Meanwhile, put a large pot of water to boil and salt it.
2.
At the end of the cooking the eggplant, the pan will ideally have a couple of tablespoons of oil left. If there’s more or less, drain some off or add a bit. Turn the heat to medium, add the garlic and chiles, and cook until the garlic colors a little bit. Add the tomatoes and oregano, along with some (salt) and pepper; cook until saucy but not too dry, stirring occasionally.
3.
Cook the pasta until tender but not mushy. (About 3-4 minutes for fresh pasta.) While it’s cooking, cut the eggplant into strips and reheat for a minute in the tomato sauce. Drain the pasta and toss it with the tomato sauce and the eggplant. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then top with the basil and grated cheese and serve.
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Fresh Fettuccine with Peas, Garlic and Ricotta Salata

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Fresh pasta is highlighted by a delicate sauce. This sauce recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Alice Waters. I don’t think Alice Waters would make this swap… but, I used frozen peas instead of fresh, and fresh pasta instead of dried. I also modified the recipe by doubling the garlic, peas, and marjoram.  Next time, a nice addition would be to add baby spinach with the noodles. I shaved the ricotta salata over the finished dish with a serrated vegetable peeler. Garlicky and good.

Serves: 4

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4-8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh (2 pounds unshelled) or frozen baby peas
  • 1 pound fresh fettuccine
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped marjoram
  • 3/4 cup crumbled or shaved ricotta salata or feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, until very soft and golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the peas in a strainer until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer the peas to a bowl.
  3. Add the fettuccine to the saucepan and boil until al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain the fettuccine, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the saucepan and toss with the garlic oil, peas and reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the marjoram. Top with the cheese and serve at once.

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