Friday, August 6, 2010

Tomato, Eggplant and Mozzarella Stacks & Pasta with Beans

This recipe is adapted from my Martha Stewart Dinner at Home cookbook.  I have been using it a lot lately!  Fantastic recipes inside!  I have made these stacks before roasted in the oven with another recipe, but loved the idea of not heating up the house!  This is a great alternative.  I went out to the garden to pick some veggies.  I grow the Pingtung Long Eggplant.  This year I planted yellow and purple.  I am making you look at my garden picture now.  

If you have never tried eggplant, you are missing out!  I love it grilled, baked, roasted, you name it!  All you have to do is add a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  

I also picked some fresh Roma tomatoes.  When you pick or buy your tomatoes, don't put them in the fridge!  I know everyone does it, but you should actual keep your fruits and veggies the same way they do at the store.  If they are not cold at the store, they do not need to go into the fridge unless you are afraid they are ready to go bad...or close to it.  

Here is what I picked!

Yum!  I admit I have been slacking on my garden.  I should have planted my second row of green beans and more spinach.  Weeding has been...put off...I need to get on the ball.  Even with my lack of enthusiasm I have yummy veggies!  I will try harder from now on!

Back to the recipe!  (Full recipes listed at the end of this post.)

Start by grinding up your bread in a food processor and add a tablespoon of olive oil to it.  Mix well and bake at 375 for 10 minutes until they are golden brown.  Just a little tip:  when you are done with the loaf of bread and are ready to throw out the ends, don't!  I put the ends into a large ziplock bag in the freezer.  Then when a recipe calls for fresh breadcrumbs, I take the ends out and process them.  It is easy.  If you are too lazy for this step or in a hurry, use dried breadcrumbs from a can.  

Here are the golden bread crumbs....sooooo worth making them fresh!

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  This is to cook your pasta.

In the meantime add two tablespoons of olive oil to a pan and saute your red onion and garlic.

The recipe called for a couple of beans I'd never heard of and couldn't find.  With my abundance of green beans, I used those.  Add fresh rosemary and salt.

Another bean I had never heard of was in the recipe...couldn't find used kidney beans.  They are Marcus' favorite (my 5 year old), so went with those.  Add the pasta to the dish after it is fully cooked (10 minutes boiled).  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on bread crumbs.

Place sliced eggplant and tomatoes on a hot grill pan.  The eggplant and tomatoes were drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  DO SPRAY the pan.  I didn't do it the first time around and the tomatoes were a mess.  I use a misto sprayer that you pump and then spray the olive oil.  It is like pam, but will not ruin your nonstick cookware.  Pam has extra stuff in it that puts a film on your nonstick pots and pans.

Once you flip them all (make sure there are nice grill marks), cut up mozzarella and put a piece on top of each eggplant piece to let it melt slightly. 

Once the other side is finished cooking take them out, put them on a plate and top them withe grilled tomatoes.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil if you like.

Add dried breadcrumbs to the top of the pasta salad.  Additional can be put on individual plates too.


Tomato, Eggplant and Mozzarella Stacks
1/2 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pound), sliced crosswise into 12 1/4-inch rounds
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse Salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh red chile
2 tomatoes (about 1/2 pound)
Fresh Basil leaves

Heat grill pan over medium heat.  Brush eggplant slices with 3 tablespoons oil; season with salt.  Cook eggplant, turning once until charred in places and very tender (8-10 minutes).  Transfer to platter.

Meanwhile, stir oregano and chopped chile with remaining 3 tablespoons oil; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Dividing among four plates, stack eggplant, mozzarella and tomato slices.  Add basil and drizzle with chile oil as you go.  Top each stack with basil and salt.  

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Shell Beans
3/4 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
8 oz Romano beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups jarred barlotti beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 pound whole-wheat pasta shells, or other short pasta shape

Preheat oven to 375.  Toss bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon oil and a pinch of salt.  Bake about 10 minutes.

Heat 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook onion and garlic until golden brown, stirring about 4 minutes.  Add rosemary and Romano beans, and season with 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Cook until beans are crisp-tender, stirring often, about 4 minutes.  Stir in borlotti beans and cook until heated through, 1-2 minutes.  Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta, reserve 3/4 cup cooking water.  Toss pasta with beans and enough reserved cooking water to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  

To serve, divide pasta among bowls, serve warm or at room temperature.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs and drizzle generously with oil.

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