Wheatless Wednesday – Eggplant Fans

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Here is a ‘twist’ that you will LOVE on the traditional eggplant parm. (pun intended) Whenever I suggest making Eggplant Parmesan for dinner, my husband’s eyes light up.  It’s one of his favorite vegetarian dishes.  This time, however, I decided to shake it up; same old ingredients but different preparation. This version is not breaded and fried but sliced and stuffed with fresh tomatoes, garlic, fresh mozzarella and herbs, then baked to a golden brown and melty goodness.  A sprinkling of parmesan on top adds to a nice golden crust.

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Eggplant and tomatoes make a good couple, which is why you see them paired together so often along with fresh basil and a variety of cheeses.    I used fresh mozzarella and parmesan but you could easily use crumbled feta or goat cheese depending on your preferences or what you have in your refrigerator. Eggplant is one of the few vegetables that are filling enough to star as a main course. I used medium/large eggplants and found that the two eggplants served four people but those with large appetites may not agree.  In addition to being a favorite and versatile veggie, eggplant provides quite an impressive array of nutrients. Eggplant is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, and copper. It is a good source of manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate, and vitamin K as well as phytonutrients.

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TIPS: My new favorite kitchen hack is olive oil in a spray bottle. It makes brushing slices of anything SO much easier and with better coverage.  You can use your own olive oil in a plastic or metal spray bottle or you can purchase it from most stores.  They have come a long way since PAM.  Just make sure it’s a good quality of oil.  Avocado oil is a good choice too.

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EGGPLANT TOMATO FANS
2 medium to large eggplant
3-4 large tomatoes
10-12 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt
1/4- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
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  • Slice the egg plant lengthwise into thin slices taking care to keep the stem end attached.

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  • Salt each slice and let rest for 20 or 30 minutes to relase the excess water and any bitterness. Spray or brush olive or avocado oil onto all the slices.

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  • Layer tomato slices, mozzarella, garlic, half of basil and parsley in between each eggplant slice.

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  • Transfer to a baking dish and lightly press to flatten. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. If too much water has been released into the pan, use a turkey baster to remove some of it.  The rest will evaporate.

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  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake another 20 minutes or so until golden brown and melty.

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  • Top with remaining fresh basil and serve hot or warm.

Eggplant Fans

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 medium to large eggplant
3-4 large tomatoes
10-12 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil
salt
1/4- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • Slice the egg plant lengthwise into thin slices taking care to keep the stem end attached.
  • Salt each slice and let rest for 20 or 30 minutes to relase the excess water and any bitterness.
  • Spray or brush olive or avocado oil onto all the slices.
  • Layer tomato slices, mozzarella, garlic, half of basil and parsley in between each eggplant slice.
  • Transfer to a baking dish and lightly press to flatten. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and bake for about an hour at 400 degrees. If too much water has been released into the pan, use a turkey baster to remove some of it.  The rest will evaporate.
  • Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake another 20 minutes or so until golden brown and melty.
  • Top with remaining fresh basil and serve hot or warm.

Meatless Monday – Rustic Roasted Tomato Tart

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I can’t say enough about these roasted tomatoes – drizzled with balsamic and honey and slow roasted until they reach caramelized perfection.  Their cooking juice alone is worth the price of admission, delicious as a dipping  sauce for a crusty baguette.  But that’s not all!   I layered the lovely roasted tomatoes over a bed of fresh mozzarella and then folded it all in a buttery crust to form a rustic tart. You would never know that the crust is actually good for you because it’s so yummmy, but it’s made with 100% White Whole Wheat Flour.  No that wasn’t a typo.  I used a whole grain flour made from white whole wheat, which is a different kind of wheat whose germ has a lighter color and milder in flavor than the more traditional ‘red’ wheat.  It has the same nutritional value as whole wheat but is not as heavy, making it a better choice for baking. I believe in making food healthy but not at the expense of taste.  Win, Win!

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These roasted tomatoes are really sweet and flavorful, great layered in sandwiches or mixed in with other vegetables. I know I will be making these over and over again!  I know I already said this, but it bears repeating.  The sauce is ‘to die for’ so carefully pour every last drop into a small bowl and use it as a dipping sauce.

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Tomatoes are America’s favorite vegetable (even though it’s technically a fruit) and they are so wonderful when they are in season like right now, fresh from the vine.  You can just taste the goodness! If you are worried that cooking tomatoes, destroys the nutrients, don’t. Tomatoes are one of the veggies that actually benefits from being cooked. Most people know that tomatoes are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, like lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect our immune systems.  The best way to get lycopene, which is in the skin and gives tomatoes their red color, is through cooked or processed tomatoes.  Cooking them with a little healthy oil helps carry the lycopene into the bloodstream. ( Best Health Magazine)  So roast away!  You won’t regret it…

TIPS:  This recipe would be easy to make vegan.  Just omit the cheeses which are not necessary anyway, as the star of this dish is really the roasted tomatoes. To veganize the crust, substitute a vegan butter or oil and brush the crust with non-dairy milk before cooking.  Then I would suggest sprinkling the tomatoes and especially the crust with a coarse salt and more herbs before baking.

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I spotted this recipe in the Farm Fresh – Summer, 2015 magazine, although I added a layer of fresh mozzarella beneath the tomatoes and used white whole wheat flour for the crust for a more nutritious tart.

RUSTIC ROASTED TOMATO TART

7-8 ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
3 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)-divided
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded(optional)

CRUST (or your favorite pre-made crust)

1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)plus more for dusting the surface
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
2 Tbsn + 1 tsp ice water
1 egg (for glazing the crust)

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  • If you are making dough for a crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine.  Cut butter into slices and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse about 20 times or until the butter particles are small.  With the motor running, add the ice water and process until the dough is beginning to come together.  It will be loose but will come together if you pinch it.  Turn the loose dough out onto a mixing bowl and knead it briefly  Shape it into a flat disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.  (Or to save time later, you can roll it into a 12 inch round, then wrap it in plastic and store in the refrigerator)

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  • Pre-heat the oven to 425.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Brush with with olive oil.  Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl.

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  • Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and carefully remove seeds.

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  • Place tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.

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  • Pour the balsamic mixture into each tomato half, distributing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with 2 tsp thyme.

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  • Roast the tomatoes until they are brown on the edges and collapsed, about an hour.  Let them cool.  Save any pan juices to serve with crusty sourdough bread!

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  • While the tomatoes are cooling, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  Heat oven to 400.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 inch round, then transfer to parchment paper. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect.  I think it makes a more interesting tart.

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  • Arrange mozzarella slices in the center of the round, leaving a 2 inch border of dough.

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  • Arrange the roasted tomato halves over the mozzarella, starting in the center and slightly overlapping, still leaving a 2 inch border.

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  • Fold the edge of the dough up and over the tomatoes, pleating as you go.

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  • Brush the dough (including under the folds) with beaten egg.  Sprinkle the tart with parmesan and remaining thyme. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 40 minutes.

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  • Let cool slightly and transfer to a cutting board or serving platter.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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7-8 ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
3 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)-divided
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded(optional)

CRUST (or your favorite pre-made crust)

1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)plus more for dusting the surface
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
2 Tbsn + 1 tsp ice water
1 egg (for glazing the crust)

  • If you are making dough for a crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine.  Cut butter into slices and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse about 20 times or until the butter particles are small.  With the motor running, add the ice water and process until the dough is beginning to come together.  It will be loose but will come together if you pinch it.  Turn the loose dough out onto a mixing bowl and knead it briefly  Shape it into a flat disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Brush with with olive oil.  Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl.
  • Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and carefully remove seeds.
  • Place tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.
  • Pour the balsamic mixture into each tomato half, distributing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with 2 tsp thyme.  Roast the tomatoes until they are brown on the edges and collapsed, about an hour.  Let them cool.  Save any pan juices to serve with crusty sourdough bread!
  • While the tomatoes are cooling, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  Heat oven to 400.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 inch round, then transfer to parchment paper. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect.  I think it makes a more interesting tart.
  • Arrange mozzarella slices in the center of the round, leaving a 2 inch border of dough.
  • Arrange the roasted tomato halves over the mozzarella, starting in the center and slightly overlapping, still leaving a 2 inch border.
  • Fold the edge of the dough up and over the tomatoes, pleating as you go.
  • Brush the dough (including under the folds) with beaten egg.  Sprinkle the tart with parmesan and remaining thyme. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 40 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly and transfer to a cutting board or serving platter.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

Spaghetti with The Best ‘No Cook’ Tomato Sauce

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If you are not in the mood to cook when it’s so hot outside – don’t.  Try this pasta with an easy but delicious ‘no cook’ sauce made from sun ripened tomatoes, fresh basil and oregano, garlic and olive oil.  It sounds simple and it is, but it is divine.  Let the flavors ruminate on the countertop for about an hour and stir into cooked pasta and you’ve got a winner!  I posted this recipe last summer but decided it’s worth reposting as it is a favorite of mine and a definite go-to, especially when it’s hot or I have lots of tomatoes to use up.  I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Charleston, South Carolina and my return trip took an extra day due to inclement weather on the East Coast (although it was 102 in Charleston so it was hard to imagine it storming somewhere else), so I’m beginning my week behind schedule.  That is why this week there is no Meatless Monday or Wheatless Wednesday, just a yummy old favorite, but I don’t think you will be disappointed.  I promise a write up of my Charleston trip and some classic southern food very soon!

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Regardless, I came home from my trip just in time for the NBA Playoff Finals and knew a group was soon to arrive to watch the game.  I had no time to go shopping but luckily my garden is doing well this year, so far.  I went out to my garden and gathered  sun ripened tomatoes. I love them when they are so aromatic and still warm from the sun.  You don’t have to have a garden to enjoy wonderful fruits and veggies though.  Right now tomatoes are in abundance at supermarkets and farmer’s markets.  If you’re not sure they are ripe enough, just let them sit on your counter or in your windowsill for a day or two.  Just don’t store them in the refrigerator, as they won’t ripen and their skins will get tough.

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Then I stopped by my vertical herb garden which I conveniently installed right next to my kitchen door.  Why I haven’t done this until now, I will not understand.  I absolutely love my herb garden!  It used to be that I would skip the fresh herbs because I was too lazy to walk all the way up to my vegetable garden to clip them.  Now I have no excuse and my food is graced with even more lovely fresh herbs than before.  There are many vertical gardens out there but mine is the Gronomic Cedar Vertical Self Watering Planter from Williams Sonoma. Check it out: Gronomic Vertical Planter

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I chopped the tomatoes and herbs, added some minced garlic, a pinch of salt and a dollop of olive oil and let it sit on the counter while everyone was beginning to arrive.

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I lucked into an unopened container of fresh mozzarella, so cut it into a small dice and stirred it into the tomato mixture. However, this step is competely optional.  The sauce is quite good without adding any cheese.   It was already beginning to transform itself into a wonderful sauce.  Mmmm!

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If you have leftover pasta, you don’t even have to cook that.  Just allow it return to room temperature.  When you’re ready to serve, pour tomato sauce over hot, warm or cold pasta and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan if you wish.  Enjoy!

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For the complete recipe, click HERE or Search Goodmotherdiet for Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Tomato & Eggplant Stacks with Basil Vinaigrette

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Basil + Tomatoes = Love.  If asparagus is the harbinger of spring, tomatoes are the essence of summer.  I reaped the first ripe tomatoes from my garden yesterday, still warm from the sun.  What a treasured bounty! It was so warm in March in California that I decided to plant tomato seedlings then which is very risky but I got lucky, or rather temperatures never dropped too low and I never even had to cover my tender plants at night.  So now I am enjoying the largesse.  I had planned something entirely different using lentils and eggplant for dinner tonight but could not resist the pull of my fresh tomatoes so I ended up making Tomato and Eggplant Stacks layered with fresh mozzarella and avocado drizzled with a fresh Basil Vinaigrette.  Bliss!

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I did have a little mishap in the garden, however. I was trying to tuck a heavily laden branch behind a support and the stem snapped.  It didn’t break all the way so I decided to ‘bandage’ it up with a bit of painter’s tape and hope for the best.

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Do you see the little blue ‘bandage’?  If my doctoring doesn’t work, I will be ripening about a dozen green tomatoes on my windowsill.  Crossing my fingers…

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What can I tell you about tomatoes except that they are the ultimate in summer dining? Did you know that Tomatoes were a wonderful gift from the Mayans?  Tomatoes are native to the Central America and were cultivated by the Aztecs centuries before the Spanish explorers introduced them to rest of the world. Lucky for us!  Besides being delicious, tomatoes are nutrient dense, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.  They are an especially good source of Vitamin C and the phytonutrient, Lycopene, which is a beneficial antioxidant.  So slice away!  Put them on sandwiches, in salads or add them to your morning toast with a slice of avocado and a sprinkle of fresh basil.  Yum!

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TIPS:  To easily remove the avocado pit, strike down on the pit with a sharp knife and twist until it come out.  You can roast the eggplant ahead of time, even the day before, and store in the refrigerator.  Just bring to room temperature before assembling.  For best results, use eggplant and tomatoes that are a similar size.

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For a more colorful arrangement, use a variety of tomatoes.  If you aren’t into stacking, just throw everything together in a large bowl and drizzle with basil vinaigrette.

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TOMATO & EGGPLANT STACKS WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE

3-4 fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 small globe eggplant
1 avocado, ripe but firm
6 oz fresh mozzarella, optional

BASIL VINAIGRETTE

1 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 small shallot or 2-3 scallions
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp honey or agave
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

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  • Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/3 inch rounds.

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  • Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and roast in the oven at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes,  or until lightly browned, turning halfway through,.  Or grill them on both sides. Let cool.

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  • Place all vinaigrette ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

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  • Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/3 inch rounds. Cut avocado in half crosswise, remove pit (see tips) and peel.  Slice into 1/3 inch rounds.  (Make slices thicker or thinner to your liking)

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  • Build stacks by placing one tomato slice as the base, then eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, avocado then tomato.

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  • Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with fresh basil.  I also had some balsamic reduction left from my Antipasti Platter which I put out for extra drizzling.  Balsamic Reduction Recipe HERE.

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Tomato & Eggplant Stacks with Basil Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TOMATO & EGGPLANT STACKS WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE

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3-4 fresh, ripe tomatoes
1 small globe eggplant
1 avocado, ripe but firm
6 oz fresh mozzarella, optional

BASIL VINAIGRETTE

1 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 small shallot or 2-3 scallions
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp honey or agave
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  • Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/3 inch rounds.
  • Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and roast in the oven at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes,  or until lightly browned, turning halfway through,.  Or grill them on both sides. Let coo.
  • Place all vinaigrette ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Set aside.
  • Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/3 inch rounds.
  • Cut avocado in half crosswise, remove pit (see tips) and peel.  Slice into 1/3 inch rounds.
  • Build stacks by placing one tomato slice as the base, then eggplant, mozzarella, tomato, avocado then tomato
  • Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with fresh basil.