First, we'll start off with the hamantaschen extravaganza of last weekend. For those of you who have no clue what hamantaschen are they are delicious, triangle shaped, jelly (or anything really) filled Jewish cookies that are baked in copious amounts for the holiday of Purim. Purim is pretty much like Jewish Halloween - only instead of candy you eat hamantaschen and are supposed to drink (only if you're of legal age, of course!). Anyways, I felt like I had a void in my life by not baking any hamantaschen, because in my family when Purim rolls around my mom, sister, and I bake dozens of them. This nostalgia spurred me to take matters into my own hands and go for it! It's no fun alone, so I called Rachael and Elana, two of my best friends (pretty much sisters, actually), over and we got to work. About 40 apricot, nutella, strawberry, peanut butter, chocolate chip, sprinkles and chocolate chips, and Elana's daring black bean hamantaschen later-we were done, and somewhat pleased with the result. Some opened in the oven, so instead of retaining their triangular shape they ended up as flat cookies with filling, but they were still delicious so no big deal! I'd post the recipe, but it's not mine-it's the one Elana's family uses, and is not mine to share-so this one remains a secret!Later in the week I found myself totally depleted of food in my apartment (seriously, I was making meals of Teddy Grahams...) Luckily though, Israel Block Party was on Wednesday night and at the end they had a plethora of produce to give away. Walking the couple blocks to my apartment armed with 5 apples, a potato, an onion, and an eggplant I found myself contemplating exactly what I wanted to do with these ingredients. Louis and I had a date planned for Thursday but in lieu of eating somewhere crowded and noisy, I offered to cook dinner instead and make use of this cornucopia of veggies. I felt ambitious so for dinner I made mozzarella bruschetta and pasta with crispy eggplant and sauteed veggies. I loathe tomatoes, but after having this bruschetta I've seen the light. The recipe is courtesy of Giada (who doesn't love her??) from food network, but I seriously cut it down because I only needed to serve two people, also I used fresh roma tomatoes rather than canned which is what she has in the recipe, and instead of a french baguette I used a loaf of artisan wheat bread (attempt at being healthy), and cut the slices into halves to make them bite size. The pasta was a culmination of my own ideas, and is ridiculously simple, though a little time consuming from all the chopping and such of ingredients.
The finished product, beautiful and delicious:
- 1/2 box of whole wheat pasta
- 1 eggplant, julienned
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, or more depending on size of pan
- 5 cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups of spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- sea salt (my new favorite ingredient) and pepper
- 2 tablespoons grano padano cheese (or parmesean, romano, ricotta salata, whatever cheese you deem fit!)
- Cut the eggplant into large horizontal slices, sprinkle with salt and place in a collander for 30 minutes to allow the vegetable to sweat.
- Boil water for pasta, and cook it up
- Heat olive oil in large skillet
- Once the eggplant has noticeably sweated, julienne the large slices into skinny strips, and allow to fry in the olive oil only for a few minutes-until desired crispiness. Once they are done, drain them on a paper towel and place them in the oven at a low temp to stay warm
- Sautee garlic, onions, and mushrooms with about a tablespoon of olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper
- About 2 minutes before pasta is done, turn the heat on the stove on low and add spinach and basil to the sauteed vegetables, allowing them to just wilt in the heat.
- Mix the veggies in with the pasta and top with cheese and voila! Delicious dinner for two!
Ps if you don't know my good friend Rachael, she's also a huge foodie who I admire a lot. She's working as an intern at Saveur this summer (ya, Rach, I'm bragging on you) and has an amazing food blog as well-go check it out and prepare to be wowed!