Category Archives: Mediterranean

Eggplant and Tomato Gratin

Mediterranean in May

I am always looking for new recipes that use Eggplant and hence I think I gravitated to recipes with Eggplant in the cookbook Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean. This is an easy  recipe that can serve as a side or main dish.

eegplantgratin

Ingredients:

1 Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (or I used sliced Jack cheese)
1 garlic clove
a few basil leaves
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat the broiler.

Lay out eggplant slices on a baking sheet. Whisk together olive oil, garlic, vinegar and salt and pepper. Brush eggplant slices on both sides with the oil and vinegar mixture. Broil for 6 minutes on each side.

egI1

Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

Transfer the sliced eggplant to a baking pan.  Lay tomato slices, alternating cheese slices on top of eggplant slices. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.

Garnish with fresh basil and serve warm.

I made a panini sandwich for lunch with left overs, the next day with olive bread, spinach and a sundried tomato and pepper sandwich spread, and that was yummy too!

egI2

Mediterranean Grain Soup

Mediterranean in May

 I make a lot of soups, especially in Spring, Fall and Winter when the outside temperatures are cooler. There is something about sipping warm, soothing soup with some croutons or crusty bread, that is so appealing. Summertime too there are other soups,like Gazpacho which are refreshing.

mgs

Typically, my soups tend to be loaded with vegetables and beans or lentils. This one too has a lot of vegetables but for a change it uses Wheat Berries. Like Farro, wheat berries come from a variety of wheat, the only difference being farro is grown in warmer climates and wheat berries in the colder climate regions.

This recipe is adapted from the Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean book. Also known as Zuppa di farro, this soup is a specialty of Apulia in Southern Italy. Filled with herbs, wheat berries and an assortment of vegetables, it is a delicious and a soothing soup for a cold day, and even on a warm, spring day.

I adapted the original recipe to make 1/4 the quantity prescribed. Makes about 3-4 servings.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup wheat berries
2 cups water
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small zucchini, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 yellow pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small potato, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh Italian Parsley
1 tbsp fresh basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
pinch of saffron
salt and fresh ground pepper

Soak the wheat berries for two hours or overnight. When ready to cook, rinse and cover with double the amount of water. To cut amount of time necessary to cook the wheat berries, I decided to pressure cook them. If cooking stove top, bring to a boil and cook on medium low flame for an hour or so, adding water as needed till the wheat berries are cooked and soften.

In a separate pan, add olive oil, onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Add wheat berries, basil, bay leaf, parsley, thyme and saffron and bring to a boil. Reduce flame and let simmer uncovered until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Season with salt and fresh ground pepper, garnish with basil and parsley and serve warm with bread or croutons.

Farro and Sun-dried Tomato Foccacia

Mediterranean in May

I’ve been wanting to bake foccacia bread for a while, so this recipe from the Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean was a perfect one to try. Not only is it healthy incorporating farro into it, but also turned out quite tasty. The farro in the bread gives a nice chewy texture.

I only made half the prescribed quantity. Here is my adapted version.

foccacia

Ingredients:

1/4 cup farro
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 pkg yeast
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, minced and oil-packed
1 cup all purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp brown sugar
kosher or coarse salt for the top
dried oregano, for the top
dry red pepper flakes for the top (optional)

Place the farro in a bowl, cover with water and let sit overnight.

Drain and rinse the farro, add transfer to a saucepan. Cover with 2 inches of water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce flame, and let simmer for about 45 minutes, until the farro is cooked. Add water as needed to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, combine warm water and yeast in a small bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, minced sun-dried tomatoes, and sugar and mix well.

In a large bowl, mix the flours, and salt. Add the yeast mix and drained, cooked and drained Farro and mix well. Turn the flour onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, adding any flour as needed if it is sticky. Shape the flour into a ball and roll into a circle and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

foccacia2

Make dimples on the surface of the dough, drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle kosher salt, oregano and red pepper flakes. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

 

 

Eggplant Involtini

Mediterranean in May

I’ve had the book: Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean for a while, but haven’t cooked any recipes from it at all. In order to get fit and follow a Mediterranean diet, I am planning to try out recipes from this book during the month of May. I plan to adapt the recipes to my personal liking, so they will most likely never follow the original to a T. Also I might cut back the quantity to make only 1-2 servings.

Involtini in Italy means thin slices that are rolled with a filling. It can be slices of beef, pork or chicken. For a vegetarian, eggplant will do nicely 🙂

IMG_5771

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/8 fresh parsley
a few chopped walnuts or pine nuts
1 tbsp plumped raisins
1/8 cup orange juice
1 garlic clove
salt to season

Preheat the broiler.

Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Lay out on a clean towel, sprinkle with salt and let stand to allow juices to drain. Rinse the eggplant slices under cold water, pat dry and brush with olive oil on both sides. Broil about 3 minutes each side until slightly charred.

Meanwhile, mix bread crumbs, parsley,  nuts, raisins and garlic. Add orange juice, drizzle some olive oil and mix well.

Layout each slice of broiled eggplant on a flat surface, place 1/2 tbsp of filling on one end of the slice. Roll the slice, and place on a warm serving plate. Repeat for other eggplant slices.

Goes well as a side or an appetizer.

Adapted from the book Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean.