Meatless Monday – Ginger Miso Eggplant with Sesame Soba Noodles

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I love eggplant pretty much any way it is served and I’m always looking for a new recipe.  I’ve been eyeing this one for a while but have been thwarted several times in my attempts.  I planned to make this last week but my eggplant had already grown a few moldy spots, so we had to resort to dinner out (darn!).  In subsequent tries, one or both of us had plans.  Oh darn again, parties…  Anyway, last night was the night and I can report that it was worth the wait.  Tender and flavorful roasted eggplant topped with a miso and ginger sauce, coupled with yummy sesame soba noodles, this dish really satisfies, especially when you’re craving something with an Asian twist.

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We all know that eggplant is an exceptional vegetable and not just because of it’s glorious purple color.  Eggplant is deliciously low in calories and high in fiber and nutrition – but what about soba noodles?  Aren’t they just useless carbs just there to soak up the sauce? Well it turns out that soba noodles are made out of buckwheat flour, which is not, despite its name a form of wheat. The word, Soba, actually means buckwheat in Japanese. Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and the small seeds of the plant are ground to make flour, so I guess it’s technically a vegetable and not a grain.

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Buckwheat is a good source of nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, carbohydrates, thiamine and manganese. When compared to regular spaghetti, soba noodles have less calories, more fiber and more protein.  Buckwheat itself is gluten free but it is often mixed with other types of flour, so check your labels to make sure you know what is in the soba noodles if you are trying to avoid gluten.

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TIPS: The long and thin Japanese or Chinese eggplants work best for this recipe.  You can cut eggplants in half lengthwise, as in this recipe, or cut on a diagonal into 1-inch-thick slices, as desired. I like to salt the eggplant before cooking to draw out excess water and any possible bitterness, but when roasting this is less important.  So if you are pressed for time, you can skip this step.

I used fresh Miso, which is a paste made of soy beans that have been fermented with a culture made of wheat, rice, barley, or beans. Miso is available on grocery shelves in many stores in the Asian section. If you don’t have miso or can’t find it, you could try substituting sesame paste or tahini.

Eggplant Recipe Adapted from www.bonappetit.com

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GINGER MISO EGGPLANT

SERVINGS: 4-6

  • 4-6 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1/3 cup white miso paste
  • 4 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn toasted sesame seeds, divided
  • 3-4 thinly sliced scallions (about 3 Tbsn), divided
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  • Slice eggplants in half lengthwise and place cut side up.  Salt generously and let sit for about 10 minutes. (optional)

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  • Thinly slice scallions and prepare ginger and garlic.

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  • Preheat oven to 425°. Brush or spray cut side of eggplant with oil and place on an oiled baking sheet.
    Roast eggplant, turning once halfway through, until very tender, about 20 minutes. While eggplant is cooking, prepare soba noodles (recipe below)

 

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  • Remove from oven. Arrange a rack in upper third of oven and heat to broil. Meanwhile, whisk miso, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 2 Tbsp. scallions.

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  • Spread top of eggplant slices with miso sauce.

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  • Broil until golden and charred in places, 4–5 minutes.

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  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 1 Tbsp. scallions.

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  • Serve hot or warm with Sesame Soba Noodles.  Watch it disappear.

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SESAME SOBA NOODLES

  • 1 package organic soba noodles (9.5oz)
  • 2 Tbsn soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsn sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsn seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced and then minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger, mince (ginger paste or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chili or cherry pepper, small dice or thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, garnish
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  • Cook soba noodles per package directions. While the water is boiling, prepare the sesame sauce.

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  • In a small bowl combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, oil, garlic and ginger and whisk with a fork until well combined.

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  • When the noodles are ready, drain (reserving 1/4 cup pasta water) and return to the saucepan. Pour the sesame sauce all over the noodles and stir to combine.  Add the green onions and peppers, toss again. Serve with toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of hot sauce if desired.

 

Ginger Miso Eggplant with Sesame Soba Noodles

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 4-6 Japanese eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1/3 cup white miso paste
  • 4 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn toasted sesame seeds, divided
  • 3-4 thinly sliced scallions (about 3 Tbsn), divided
  • Slice eggplants in half lengthwise and place cut side up.  Salt generously and let sit for about 10 minutes. (optional)
  • Thinly slice scallions and prepare ginger and garlic.
  • Preheat oven to 425°. Brush or spray cut side of eggplant with oil and place on an oiled baking sheet.
  • Roast eggplant, turning once halfway through, until very tender, about 20 minutes.
  • While eggplant is cooking, prepare soba noodles (recipe below)
  • Remove from oven. Arrange a rack in upper third of oven and heat to broil.
  • Meanwhile, whisk miso, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 2 Tbsp. scallions.
  • Spread top of eggplant slices with miso sauce.
  • Broil until golden and charred in places, 4–5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds and 1 Tbsp. scallions.

SESAME SOBA NOODLES

  • 1 package organic soba noodles (9.5oz)
  • 2 Tbsn soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsn sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsn seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced and then minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger, mince (ginger paste or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 red chili or cherry pepper, small dice or thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, garnish
  1. Cook soba noodles per package directions. While the water is boiling, prepare the sesame sauce.
  2. In a small bowl combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, oil, garlic and ginger and whisk with a fork until well combined.
  3. When the noodles are ready, drain (reserving 1/4 cup pasta water) and return to the saucepan.
  4. Pour the sesame sauce all over the noodles and stir to combine.
  5. Add the green onions and peppers, toss again. Serve with toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of hot sauce if desired.

Antipasti Platter – Roasted Eggplant, Peppers & Tomatoes with Burrata

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NBA Playoffs are here and my husband had an offer to go the the Warriors game LIVE, so I invited my two lovely neighbors over for some impromtu girl time.  Yes, the game was on and the Warriors won!  But more importantly, we watched female style, champagne in hand and a lovely antipasti platter spread before us.  Needless to say, a good time was had by all and my platter with thin slices of roasted eggplant, charred mini sweet peppers, wilted cherry tomatoes, salty olives and creamy burrata passed the test!  The eggplant was a rich and flavorful, the mini peppers just got sweeter through roasting and the burrata was a delight.  The big winner though, was the balsamic reduction that I drizzled over the whole thing. Credit goes to my son, Eric, for that recipe.  Yum!  Oh, and here are our fun napkins…just because.

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If you have never had burrata, it’s similar to fresh mozzarella but creamier and even more delicious! Burrata means ‘buttered’ in Italian if that gives you any indication of it’s yumminess. It resembles fresh mozzarella but it’s insides are soft and ooze out upon cutting it open. Mmmm….. I used a burrata from Belfiore, one of the few small family owned, cheesemakers in the SF Bay Area.  I love to promote local companies, especially when they take such care to use only quality natural ingredients, and the owners just happen to be friends of mine – even better!  Belfiore handcrafts their cheeses using no artificial ingredients, additives or preservatives.  In addition I love that they  use a vegetarian rennet in making their burrata.  I really like this brand but there are many other good handcrafted cheese companies out there too so look around.

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TIPS:  I love fresh herbs on almost anything.  I just walk outside my kitchen door and clip whatever I have on hand.  This time it was fresh basil, thyme and parsley, however, any fresh herbs will work just fine.  If you don’t have access to fresh herbs, sprinkle a bit of Italian Seasoning on top of everything before drizzling with balsamic reduction.  The balsamic reduction is heavenly and I can think of dozens of ways to use it in the future.  It’s easy to make but if you don’t want to go to the trouble, a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of olive oil will be tasty too.

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I will be out of town next week at Rancho La Puerta (an early birthday present to myself) so I will not be in my kitchen but getting inspiration from the wonderful chefs at The Ranch.  So stay tuned, especially on FACEBOOK and INSTAGRAM for photos from my week at The Ranch.  When I come back, I’m sure I will have a lot to share… Have a good week!-Joyce

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ROASTED EGGPLANT, PEPPERS & TOMATOES  WITH BURRATA

1 globe eggplant
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint miniature sweet peppers
8 oz burrata, room temperature if possible
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 cup fresh baby arugula
1/2 cup fresh mixed herbs, parsley, basil or thyme, roughly chopped
1/2 cup kalamata or black olives (optional)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsn sugar, brown sugar or honey
Vinaigrette:  2 Tbsn olive oil, 2 Tbsn lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

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  • Remove the leafy stem and cut the aubergine into half lengthwise

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  • Then slice thinly lengthwise using a sharp knife or a mandolin

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  • Spread the slices on papertowels and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the excess water come out.

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  • Wipe eggplant slices dry. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet and spread eggplant evenly in the pan in a single layer.  You may need more than one pan depending on the thickness of the slices.

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  • Brush tops with olive oil and roast at 400°F until they turn light brown, about. 25-35 minutes

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  • Place cherry tomatoes and peppers in another lightly oiled pan and roast in the same oven until charred in spots and wilted. Turn peppers once.
  • Stir balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsn sugar together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, taste and add another Tbsn sugar if it seems too acidic and cook another 5 minutes.. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool (It should be a syrupy consistency)

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  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool slightly.  Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and pour the vinaigrette onto the warm eggplant and lightly toss to combine.

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  • Arrange eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, olives and burrata on a platter.

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  • Sprinkle herbs and arugula over the top.  Drizzle with olive oil (optional) and balsamic reduction.

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  • Serve room temperature with crusty sourdough bread and the remaining balsamic reduction on the side.

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Roasted Eggplant, Peppers & Tomatoes with Burrata

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 globe eggplant
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pint miniature sweet peppers
8 oz burrata, room temperature if possible
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 cup fresh baby arugula
1/2 cup fresh mixed herbs, parsley, basil or thyme, roughly chopped
1/2 cup kalamata or black olives (optional)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsn sugar, brown sugar or honey
Vinaigrette:  2 Tbsn olive oil, 2 Tbsn lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

  • Remove the leafy stem and cut the aubergine into half lengthwise, then slice thinly lengthwise using a sharp knife or a mandolin
  • Spread the slices on papertowels and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the excess water come out.
  • Wipe eggplant slices dry. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet and spread eggplant evenly in the pan in a single layer.  You may need more than one pan depending on the thickness of the slices.
  • Brush tops with olive oil and roast at 400°F until they turn light brown, about. 25-35 minutes
  • Place cherry tomatoes and peppers in another lightly oiled pan and roast in the same oven until charred in spots and wilted. Turn peppers once.
  • Stir balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsn sugar together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, taste and add another Tbsn sugar if it seems too acidic and cook another 5 minutes.. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool (It should be a syrupy consistency)
  • Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool slightly.  Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and pour the vinaigrette onto the warm eggplant and lightly toss to combine.
  • Arrange eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, olives and burrata on a platter.
  • Sprinkle herbs and arugula over the top.
  • Drizzle with olive oil (optional) and balsamic reduction.
  • Serve room temperature with crusty sourdough bread and the remaining balsamic reduction on the side.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Roasted Eggplant with Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts

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Eggplant is a colorful fruit with a colorful past.  Did you know that ‘at one time it was considered poisonous and dubbed the ‘mala insane” (raging apple) because it was believed to cause insanity?  Did you also know that eggplant is related to the potato and tomato but it is actually a fruit, specifically a berry?  (Food.com) I hated eggplant as a kid and would have been happy to rely on the insanity theory to get out of eating it but, alas, my mother was too smart to get that past her.  Now, however, eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables.  Even though I know it’s actually a fruit, I’m too used to thinking of eggplant as a vegetable and can’t wrap my brain around that concept. Eggplant is very versatile.  It can be baked, braised, boiled, fried grilled, stuffed, roasted, sauteed and stewed.  You can swap it out for the meat in most recipes for a delicious meatless meal that is still satisfying and nutritious.  Eggplant is loaded with vitamins and minerals and contains important phytonutrients, thanks in part to the glorious purple color of  it’s skin.    Foods come in vibrant reds, yellows, blues and whites and each color provides different nutrients for our bodies to use.  The concept of Eating By Color or Eat The Rainbow, encourages eating foods every day from the entire spectrum of the rainbow for optimum health.  The deep purple in eggplant is good for longevity and keeping our brains sharp, so dig in!

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Roasting eggplant is easy and delicious.  I like it even just drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper before roasting.  This time though, I added paprika, cumin, garlic, honey and apple cider vinegar which add a bit of savory with just a hint of sweet and pairs nicely with the tang of goat cheese and the buttery toasted pine nuts.

Roasted Eggplant with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds
Kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsn cider vinegar
1 Tbsn honey
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup flat parsley leaves, roughly chopped(optional)
1/4 – 1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled and divided (optional)

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  •  Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes and put in a large bowl. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and let sit.

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  • Dry toast the pine nuts, if using, in a small pan over medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant.  Let cool on paper towel.
  • Whisk together the olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, garlic, paprika, and cumin.  Dry the eggplant with paper towels and toss with the marinade.
  • Spread the eggplant in a large glass pan, and roast in the oven at 400°F for 40 – 45 minutes, or until fork tender. (Stir every 15 minutes and check after 30 minutes to make sure it isn’t burning.) Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
  • Top with crumbled goat cheese, pine nuts and parsley, if desired.

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