Make Ahead Stuffed Eggplant

This is a different kind of eggplant “parmigiana.” You’ll notice there isn’t any mozzarella and very little Parmesan. While this recipe calls for a lot of preparation ahead of time, there’s no fussy breading or layering steps. The presentation is fun – there’s an eggplant on my plate! The flavor is large and delicious. This is not a quick dish – don’t think that – but you can easily make most of it ahead of time and hold it until you want to serve it.

I paired this with polenta which cooperatively had to bake for the exact amount of time and at the same temperature as the eggplant. Topped with an arugula salad, it made a whole meal.

Serves 4

Eggplant and filling:
5 small eggplants, about 7 oz. each
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp. salt
2 tbls. chopped herbs – basil, oregano, and/or parsley

Sauce:
1 1/2 tbls. butter
4 1/2 tbls. AP flour
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 tsp. salt
a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg

Topping:
1/8 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1/8 c. breadcrumbs
salt, pepper

  1. Wash eggplants and place whole on a baking sheet. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes. (This will soften the eggplant enough to enable you to scoop out the flesh but won’t ruin the skin.)
  2. After the eggplants have cooled a bit. Rest them on your cutting board and see where they sit naturally. (Which side wants to be the top?) Cut a lid in the top side of your eggplant. (Use the same technique you’d use for a stuffed potato. Check the photo here.)
  3. Cut the flesh from the lid and discard that piece of skin. Use a spoon to scoop the rest of the flesh out of all the eggplants. Discard one of the eggplant shells. (You need the flesh from five eggplants to make four eggplants to serve.) Place the remaining four eggplant shells back on your baking sheet to await filling.
  4. Rough chop the eggplant flesh.
  5. Drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add eggplant. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt and a few dashes of pepper. Cook covered, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. Toss in garlic and stir around once or twice.
  6. Add tomato sauce and herbs. Cook for three minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. Stuff the shells with this tomato eggplant mixture.
    *Stop here, if you’re making this ahead of time. Hold the eggplants in the refrigerator until needed.
  8. Bake filled eggplants for 10 minutes at 450F.
  9. While your eggplants are baking, prepare the sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, salt, and nutmeg. Cook four more minutes. If you like, pass the sauce through a sieve once. Keep on low heat, if necessasry.
  10. To make the topping, mix breadcrumbs with about one tbls. of olive oil and then mix in cheese.
  11. Pull the eggplants out of the oven. Top with white sauce and sprinkle with topping.
  12. Bake for 20 more minutes.

Notes:

  • Alternatives to the tomato sauce recipe above include roasted vegetable sauce or a quick sauce using canned tomatoes.
  • Polenta is a good match for this meal. To make, add 2 cups polenta to 6 cups boiling water and 1 tsp. of salt. Simmer over very low for 25 minutes. Spread into an oiled 9X13 pan. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Flip over on cutting board. Slice. Bake for 20 minutes at 450F. If browning is desired, broil for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time.
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Two recipes that honor really good cornmeal

I picked up some of Laughing Crow’s cornmeal at the market last week. (I was happy to see it reappear, even though I still had some from the winter secretly hoarded in my freezer.) Betsey packages the ‘Roy’s Calais Flint’ cornmeal in $5 bags with a a label describing it as such:

It has a buttery aroma and a rich, creamy flavor, and a protein content significantly higher than most flint corns. It makes a great corn bread and can be used to make polenta.

As with all that Betsey grows, you can tell she’s chosen it carefully to give her community a delicious product that is incomparable to anything you could find at the store. I almost hate to tell you how good it is for fear that everyone will get to the market and buy it all up. But now that the secret is out, I may as well give you my best recipes, for anything less would be unworthy of the cornmeal.

Cornbread

This cornbread is a little sweet and cake-like. With butter and honey, you’ll find it hard not to eat more than you should.

1 precious cup of Laughing Crow’s cornmeal
1 cup AP flour
2 tbls. sugar
1 tbls. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. buttermilk
3 eggs
4 tbls. melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 450F and butter an 8X8 dish, 9 inch cake pan, or 9 inch pie plate.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk eggs and buttermilk together. Add in melted butter.
  4. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients.
  5. Back for 20 minutes.
  6. Cool in pan for a few minutes and then remove.

From my go-to baking book, How to Bake.

Custard-Filled Cornbread

This is an unexpected and lovely sidedish. It makes a bread that is brown and crusty on top with a custard worthy of a large spoon underneath.

2 eggs
3 tbls. melted butter
3 tbls. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1 1/2 tbls. white vinegar

1 c. flour
3/4 c. precious Laughing Crow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 c. heavy cream

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter an 8X8 pan.
  2. Mix the first group of ingredients together.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix gently. Pour into your prepared pan.
  4. Add the heavy cream right in the center. (It will spread out naturally). Do not stir.
  5. Bake for 1 hour.

Surprisingly, from The Breakfast Book.

Carrot Top Soup

Get the most out of those farmers’ market carrots and make this summer soup.

Serves 4-6
Adapted from Local Flavors

2-3 cups carrot tops (leaves)
6 small carrots
2 tbls. butter
3 tbls. white rice
2 leeks
2 sprigs of thyme
2 tbls. chopped herbs (marjoram or dill)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock

  1. Remove the leaves from the carrot stems. Wash and chop finely.
  2. Dice carrots quite small.
  3. Chop leeks  and herbs.
  4. Melt the butter in your soup pot and add carrot tops, carrots, rice, leeks, and herbs. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add salt and stock.
  5. Bring to a boil over high and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Serves well as an appetizer.

Thrice Baked Potatoes with Green Garlic

Green garlic and goat cheese put some ‘spring’ in this spud. Baking the potatoes twice (and the shells once) result in the perfect combo of crispy shells and soft potatoes.

Serves 2

3 medium potatoes
2 stalks green garlic, chopped finely
1 -2 oz. goat cheese (depending on your preference)
sprig of marjoram, chopped finely
2-4 tbls. whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbls. butter

  1. Wash and poke a few holes in your potatoes. Bake for 1 hour at 400F.
  2. Prepare your garlic, herbs, and other ingredients.
  3. When potatoes are baked, slice a small lid in two of them. The third potato will be solely used as filling.
  4. With a spoon, carefully scrape out the potato into a bowl. Mash with the rest of your ingredients until smooth.
  5. Melt 1 tbls. of butter. Paint the inside of the potato shell with butter. In a small baking dish, bake at 400F for 10 minutes.
  6. Stuff the shells. Paint the remaining butter over the top and sides.
    At this point, this dish can be held for later. If you’re going to refrigerate, let them first come to room temperature or add a few minutes onto the final baking time.
  7. Place back in the 400F oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Congratulations, Sound Food!

Everything is packaged in easy $5 amounts.Our Sound Food Ferry Farm Stand made the ‘Best of Seattle’ list!

Best Local Food Market for Captive Consumers

Stop by for some fresh produce every Wednesday, from 4:15-6:15. We represent a different farmer or group of farmers each week.  You can find us at the side door exit of the ferry building (near the info. hut.) We’ve been there in sweaters, and we’ve been there in 90F heat. We’re an intrepid bunch of volunteers!

Risotto Cakes, Featuring Green Garlic

What is green garlic?I want to be completely honest. This is a very fussy recipe. You won’t find yourself spontaneously making this some Wednesday night after work. However, it is a great dish to make for guests. All of the preparation can be easily done the day before you want to serve it. In fact, it’s actually better the day after you make it! These risotto cakes would make a fancy vegetarian main dish or work well as a refreshing side.

Green garlic is different from a garlic scape (though scapes would probably work very well for this recipe, too.) Green garlic is what you get when you prematurely pull up a garlic plant. It’s delicious and pungent and you’re lucky if you can pick up some at the farmers’ market.

For risotto-
olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of white pepper
3 cups chicken broth or stock (or substitute veggie)
1/2 c. white wine (Try the ferryboat white.)

To finish-
small bunch of green garlic (about 6 stalks), chopped coarsely
1/3 c. Parmesan, grated
olive oil

  1. Get out two pans: one to warm your stock in, the other in which to create your risotto. Begin to warm your stock on low. Find your ladle.
  2. Heat 1 tbls. of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add garlic and arborio rice and continue to cook for about two minutes. (The traditional way to know if your arborio rice has been sauteed enough is to look for a translucent edge and a white dot on the grain of rice.)
  3. Splash in your wine and stir. Scrape up the brown bits with your spoon.When the wine is absorbed, ladle in one cup of stock, and reduce heat to low.
  4. Keep simmering and adding stock, one cup at a time. Your total simmer time comes to about 25 minutes. Taste your rice for seasoning and to see if it is done. (If it is not tender, add a little more liquid, continue to simmer on low, and stiStir in the green garlic and cheese off heat.r.)
  5. Off heat, stir in your Parmesan and green garlic. Spray a baking dish or cookie sheet with olive oil and spread the rice mixture out to cool. Continue reading