Foodie Friday: Eggplant Pasta with Tomato-Basil Sauce

This dish could also be called “what you make and serve with lots of wine when you realize both you and your husband have forgotten your own wedding anniversary.”  True story.

Not that it happened to me or anything.

So, should you find yourself forgetting a very important event and needing to impress, atone, and accompany a good bottle of wine with something delicious, this is what you want to be making.   Plus, with the impressive amount of garlic that goes into this recipe (it mellows out, I swear), you’ll want to spend time with no one but a near and dear one, love of your life or not–if for no other reason than you’ll both share the memory (and garlic haze) of this dish, and no one else will.

As usual:  don’t sweat the quantities.  I don’t.

Go hunt and gather:

  • 6 cups eggplant (about two medium beasts), cubed into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes (bigger is fine, but I prefer it small so I can get eggplant in every bite) and peeled if you want (I peel about half of it)
  • 4 cups tomatoes, diced (or two 14-oz cans of tomatoes, diced)
  • 8 cloves-1 head of garlic, minced or bashed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1-2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 box chunky-shaped pasta (I like farfalle best)
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese (or bocconcini, or a piece of a bigger log of fresh mozzarella)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. parsley, minced (to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, sliced or cut into long thin strips
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste

Now don the apron and get your cook on:

  • Set a large soup or pasta pot of salted water to boil.
  • While the water comes to the boil, mix the eggplant cubes with the egg until coated.  I usually start with one egg and add another if it needs more coating.
  • Heat 1/2 Tbsp. of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  When it’s hot but not smoking, add enough eggplant to cover the pan and let it sit and crisp for a couple of minutes.
  • Once it’s crisp, turn and allow to cook on the other side, then remove to a plate or cookie sheet lined with paper towel and giving it a sprinkle of salt.  Repeat with the rest of the eggplant.
  • Now here comes the rest of the multi-tasking, with the making of the sauce:  while the water is coming to the boil and the eggplant is frying, heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a saucepan.
  • Add the garlic and saute for a couple of minutes, but don’t let it color too much.  Then add the tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper (red and black) to taste.
  • Cover and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes have broken up a bit and all the flavors have melded.
  • When the water comes to the boil, add your pasta and cook according to the package’s instructions.   When it’s ready, reserve a cup of the boiling water and drain, then put the pasta back in the big pot.
  • Add the sauce and toss, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if needed.  Then toss with the eggplant.
  • Top with generous slivers of basil and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Serve with wine and contrition and eat with abandon–after all, it’s not every day you forget your own wedding anniversary.

(Not) Having an Easter Food Baby Part III: Easter Feasting and The Aftermath

On Sunday, I decided that our Easter dinner was going to contain 75% of the vegetables in our fridge, after the last few days of starchy and fried goodness. I mean, I can eat as much as the next girl for a day or two, but no way can I eat like I used to for three days straight.  I’m relieved that I can’t (though you know I took great pride in being a human vacuum cleaner and eating as much as the boys, back in my day)–and so glad I still have the receipt from when I housed 33 pieces of sushi in Vancouver in 2004, as a trophy of my near-competitive-eating glory days.

I chopped and sauteed and stirred and baked, and was 100% thrilled with the result of my vegetarian pastitsio (Greek or Middle Eastern baked dish with pasta and a bechamel sauce):

Out of the oven....

And onto my plate

I defied the evil heat (95 F at 10:30 am!) to cook for Easter Bunny Day (which I hope the rabbit appreciates).  I put together the sauce with lentils, eggplant, sweet peppers, onion, tomatoes, tomato sauce and plenty of garlic and topped it with a soymilk-based bechamel (with feta mixed in on the gentleman’s portion).  I have to give love once again to the Moosewood restaurant cookbooks–this Greek delight came from their Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates book, in a menu for Greek Easter, how fitting–for their spot-on and creative recipes.

After dinner and a suitable amount of wine time (read:  enough time to almost finish the bottle) I brought out the surprise dessert–mocha spice chocolate pudding:

Styled with Peeps

Note to self:  do not indiscriminately dump Mokatika liqueur into pudding lest you end up with flambe-able dessert (and self).   It was still delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I definitely could not have eaten it and then driven a car.  Next time I’ll be erring with caution–after all, wine and chocolate can already make me a bit giddy:

Dress by me, sandals from Britain, headband scarf from 1996 (yes, really!)

Bad Easter bunny impersonation--no wonder he wouldn't come near me

Of course, it should come as no surprise that after such a lovely meal and evening of wine plus alcoholic chocolate, I slept like a baby–a baby happy to have avoided all kinds of heavy fried food for the first time in days.

Easter Monday:  In Which We Thank The British For Yet Another Day Off (Trini) Work

For those of you dwelling State- or Canada-side, please don’t hate me.  Today was all about more sleep!  More relaxation! But with it comes less running and less swimming.

I was dying to move when I woke up this morning, but the pool was closed and I would have needed to get up much earlier to run.  I’m not sure if the morning regulars exercise on holidays, or if they go later in the morning, but I erred on the side of caution and decided I’d rather do a double-workout day or two and a couple of back -to back runs rather than risk being the only one out and about this morning.

I may love wearing fancy office clothes, but it’s beyond nice to be able to wear casual wear all day long on a Monday:

Straining to water plants in 100% Old Navy (shorts, T-shirt, flip flops)

And once thusly attired and fed, I redirected my energies of the day onto my sewing instead, and continued in my quest to turn this:

Into this:

Anthropologie dress

I worked the patience tip like it was my job today.  I hand-basted and machine basted most seams to check for fit, made adjustments, ripped seams apart with care and minimum swearing, and I’m finally at the finish-line for the top part, which is based on a shirt pattern.  On the weekend, I’ll be Frankensteining the skirt, based on another dress pattern I have, onto the top part/shirt.   I have a good feeling it’ll work out–and I have 100% certainty that my foul swearing will be heard from here to Antarctica if it doesn’t.

Excuse me while I go obsess over Season 3 of Dexter.  I’ll try to detach myself from the TV for long enough to sleep and blog (oh, and work) for the next few days, but if not, expect me to resurface once it’s all over.

Good night!

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Note:  this is last night’s post.  It seems WordPress had a hissy fit and did not publish it, after all….

_____________

Today I feel like a rock that had been placed over my head.  I hate the Migraine Family Curse, and I especially despise it in hot weather when the bedroom is too bright and the living room AC is too loud.

But enough of that.

Apart from the general lying around yesterday, I did manage to sit up for two hours and finish the adjustments on my two linen skirts (tip:  if clothing is so loose on you that you can get in and out of it without unzipping, it’s probably not cute on you anymore–time to get thee to a tailor or deal with it yourself.  Safety pins do not count as “dealing with it yourself.”)  Why undertake such tedious hated tasks while ill?  Because resistance is low–and it’s not like it can make you feel any worse, right?

Hence voila, today’s wearings:

I have seriously missed this skirt in the past two months of suit-like black skirt boredom.  Welcome back!  The top is H and M standard, the necklace a present from the Most Fabulous S, and the shoes from Target.  Aviators courtesy of a cheap store next to the supermarket and my desire to have people confuse me with Little A–we’re always told we look alike and we could probably fool people if we wore the same sunglasses.

In other sewing news (and, if you are either averse to sewing, male, or both, you may wish to look away right about now), I had a fabric store frenzy this weekend!  It was a planned visit, but it turned into a proper frenzy when I saw the always-appreciated “storewide sale” sign up.  25-35% or more off everything?  I’ll take ten, please.

I actually brought home four cuts of gorgeousness with very specific ideas of what I wanted to make with them.  If I buy fabric without an idea in mind for it, I’ll never decide what I want to make, let it sit for a year, and then lose all interest in it.  Charming, I know.

So how do we feel about this beautiful, breezy, purple-checked cotton:

For a dress like this one, from Anthropologie?

And this monstrously huge flower print in a satiny cotton:

Possibly for something like the Anthropologie Rainforest Morning Dress:

Or their Serengeti Sundress?

I also picked up this violet and peach madness, which was a total steal at 10 TT (about US $1.75) a yard.  I think the fact that it borders on tacky makes it VERY cool indeed:

So I can totally see it doing something like this Anthropologie Cooling Magma Dress–a plus being that I have a pattern with a similar bodice and I’d only have to draft something up for the skirt:

Final purchase was a blue flower-patterned and metallic-striped turquoise chiffon:

Which I’m imagining for a floaty blouse like the Anthropologie Tiny Tucks blouse:

Or possibly even something like this (Parachuting Petals by Anthropologie, great name!):

Please note that I don’t have shares in Anthropologie, nor do I actually own anything from said store (and, with the cost of most items, I wouldn’t want to, even if I had the money–I’d be terrified of spilling coffee or ketchup on it).  But I love their designs and I love that they let you download their images, which works well for demonstration purposes for y’all.

Given that I’ve only just started to draft my own stuff and Frankenstein things together (i.e. use two different patterns to make something new), I think I have my work cut out for me.  But once work slows down, I’m up for the challenge.  I  just need to buy a lot more pins–and a good supply of patience.

As for shakings du jour, a gentle swim was had, which did wonders for my tight shoulders and sense of normalcy after yesterday, when the only time my heart beat faster was when watching Dexter.

And food…. I must issue a general apology for general food boringness these days.  Trust me, the food sure doesn’t taste boring, but I’m relying on a lot of standby dishes, leftovers, and make-ahead meals and not pushing the envelope here.  I’ve been a busy girl lately.  Same as with the sewing, though:  you can expect ramped-up production of kitchen concotions of a new and interesting nature in a few weeks, once the commitment schedule calms down a bit.

Lengthy preamble over, the only blog-worthy meal was this–pasta with white beans and tomato sauce:

It’s a real old-time recipe for me–it’s actually the first recipe I ever made when I moved out on my own!  Nine years later, it still tastes great and reminds me of good times in Montreal.  I love it so much that, if you come back tomorrow, you may find it posted in the Chomping Shop (hint hint).

Why is this the only blog-worthy meal, you ask?

  1. Breakfast was banana oatmeal again. Again. Because bananas are faster to cut than apples (and cheaper).
  2. Lunch was a sardine sandwich with a green salad.  If it looks like catfood and tastes like catfood, it’s best left alone (or to the cats).  I love sardines.  I love mustard.  I don’t like it when they morph into catfood.  Bitter catfood.  Never again.

That’s it for today.  No Dexter, no migraine–bedtime.