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Rice and Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant, Rice, Vegetables, Vegan

This vegan stuffed eggplant recipe is delicious and nutritious. My mother’s stuffed eggplant is the model for this vegan version.  Her eggplant was stuffed with ground beef, rice, and  tomatoes, similar to a stuffed cabbage filling. She made it only once or twice a year, so it was a welcome treat. Today, however, I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version based on my mother’s original recipe. I used fresh ingredients that I had available, and I am very pleased with the result.  You’ll find that the stuffing is moist, hearty, delicious, and most importantly satisfying.

Ingredients:

1/2 – cup jasmine rice
1 – carrots
1 – stalks celery
1/2 – medium onion
2 – cloves garlic
Pinch of pepper flake
3 – cups vegetable stock
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. pepper
1 – cup grape tomatoes halved
4 – basil leaves
2 – tbls. parsley
1/2 – cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

First, put the rice on to cook.  Add one cup vegetable broth to a pot and bring to a boil.  Add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring back to a boil, then reduce the flame to a simmer.  Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes.  Stir often and check that the broth does not dry up to quickly.  Cook until the broth is absorbed.  Test the rice to see if it is cooked, but do not overcook.

Next, wash the eggplant and cut it in half, then remove some of the meat of the eggplant to make a well to hold the stuffing.

Set the portion you remove aside, as it will be added to the stuffing.

Make the soffritto using a food processor. Add carrot, onion, and celery and pulse until finely chopped. 

In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 finely diced cloves of garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flake. Sauté about 3 minutes until the garlic starts to soften.  While the garlic is sautéing, chop the pieces of eggplant that you removed and add to the skillet. 

Stir and cook about 2 minutes, then add the soffritto.

Add more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper to the soffritto, mix, and cook about 2 minutes.  Now add 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir often so it does not stick to the pan.

Drain the cannellini beans and add them to the soffritto along with the grape tomatoes.

Stir to incorporate them and cook another 3 minutes.  

Next add the herbs and chopped walnuts, stir to incorporate them.

Now add the cooked rice and a about 1/2 cup vegetable broth.  Stir and taste to see if it needs more salt.  

Assemble and Bake

Place the eggplant in a baking dish, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Drizzle olive oil on the eggplant, then fill each half with the stuffing.  Drizzle a little more olive oil over the stuffing and some on the bottom of the baking pan.

Place in a preheated 350° and cook about 15 minutes.  Add about 1 cup of hot vegetable broth to the bottom of the pan and return to the oven.

Cook about one hour until the eggplant is tender and the top of the stuffing starts to brown.  Use the broth in the bottom of the pan to baste the eggplant before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Buon appetito!




Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and Potatoes in Beer

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, Potatoes, Beer

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and potatoes cooked in beer is a delicious meal. I like to add carrots and mushrooms to add another level of flavor, and to round out the all-in-one meal.

My husband is Polish and he loves Kielbasa, so I make it on a regular basis.  It is great grilled, on a sandwich, or served with our favorite pierogis.  I am always trying new ways to prepare it, but I especially like this recipe because I don’t feel as guilty eating it because of the nutritional benefits of the sauerkraut.  It is rich in vitamins and minerals and high in fiber, and the fermentation process makes it a probiotic-food.

This recipe is easy to make and works well for family dinner, barbecue with friends, or watching Sunday football.  Give it a try, I think you will like it.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. Kielbasa (use your favorite brand)
32 – oz. sauerkraut
1 – cup diced onion
2 – cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups carrots (sliced in 1/2” rounds)
2 – medium golden potatoes (cut into bite sized pieces)
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
12 – oz. beer
1/4 – cup brown sugar (use more if you want it sweeter)
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. coriander
1/4 – tsp. sage
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:
Dice the onions and potatoes; slice the carrots and mushrooms, and chop the garlic. Heat one tablespoon canola oil in a heavy pot, then add the diced vegetables and garlic. Sauté about 8 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle with the coriander, black pepper, and sage. I don’t add the salt until the meal is cooked because it depends on how much salt the sauerkraut and kielbasa have.

Cut the kielbasa into one-inch pieces. Push the vegetables to one side and add the kielbasa to the pot.

Cook about 3 minutes or so until the pieces start to brown.

In the meantime, put the brown sugar into a large bowl and add the beer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Use any beer you like, they all work well. Then open the sauerkraut and rinse under cold water and drain. I prefer to use sauerkraut in the bag, and organic if possible.

When the kielbasa is ready, add the beer and cook about 3-4 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the sauerkraut and 1/2 cup water. Stir and bring back to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium low, cover the pot and let cook about 25 minute.

When ready, taste and add salt if necessary.

Enjoy!

Serves 4




Shrimp Scampi with Basmati Rice

Shrimp are always welcome in my house.  There are many different ways to prepare shrimp, so we never get bored with them.  Shrimp Scampi is an Italian-American dish that can be found in almost every Italian or Sea Food Restaurant.

I’m not sure how the name of the dish, Shrimp Scampi came about, because it is a bit redundant; in fact, scampi are langoustines or lobster-like crustaceans found in Italy. Our American version is modeled after an Italian dish made with olive oil, garlic, onions and white wine, but we substitute the scampi with shrimp. No matter what the origins, this is a delicious meal.

This recipe is easy and fast to prepare, especially if you buy the shrimp already deveined.  The rice takes about 25 minutes to prepare, but even so you can have dinner on the table in about 45 minutes.

Ingredients for Basmati Rice:
1 1/2 – cups basmati rice
1/3 – cup diced shallot
2 – tbls. canola oil
3 – cups chicken stock
1/2 – tsp. salt

1/2 – tsp. Adobo seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat canola oil in a large skillet then add the diced shallot and cook on medium heat until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat each grain with the oil.

Cook about 3-4 minutes until the rice starts to toast. Stir it often to prevent it from burning.

Now add the chicken stock, salt, black pepper and Adobo. Stir and cover with a lid to bring to a boil. (I use a low-sodium chicken stock. Go easy on the salt, you can always add more later.) Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook until the liquid is absorbed. This takes about 20 minutes. The rice should be tender and flakey.

Take off the heat and set aside until the shrimp are ready.

Ingredients for Shrimp:
1 – lb. extra large shrimp with tails, cleaned and deveined. (Buy them already cleaned and deveined from the market)
4 – cloves garlic
1/4 – cup olive oil
1/4 – cup unsalted butter
1/4 – cup diced shallot
1/3 – cup dry white wine
1/4 – tsp. red pepper flake
1 – lemon
Fresh Italian flat parsley
Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet, then add the garlic cloves and sauté until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Be sure not to let them burn. Meanwhile, rinse the shrimp in cold water and drain. Once the garlic is ready add the shrimp and sprinkle with a little salt and ground black pepper.

Cook until they just start to turn pink. Stir often to cook all sides. This should take only about 4 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp to a bowl and set aside, but leave the garlic in the skillet. Add the shallot and red pepper flake, and sauté about 2 minutes until they start to soften.


Now add the juice of the lemon and the wine and cook about 2 minutes until the alcohol cooks out.  Add about one tablespoon of butter and return the shrimp to the skillet.

Toss and cook about one minute more. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve the shrimp over the rice and drizzle the sauce over the shrimp and the rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!




Persian Rice

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When we have the opportunity to eat Persian rice we take it. It is so delicious just by itself, but when you pair it up with Persian or Indian cuisine it is a match made in heaven. My friend, Diane, learned to cook Persian cuisine after she married. When we got together she often made the rice to go along with other Persian delights. I asked her how she did it, and she shared the method with me. It takes some time because you need to soak the rice first, but the cooking process is straight forward and it comes out perfect. This recipe makes a large quantity of rice, enough to use for a few days.

Ingredients:
4 – cups basmati rice
Salt
1 – large potato
1 – package Goya Sazón Seasoning
1 – cup butter or canola oil

Directions:
It is very important that you soak the rice for at least 5 hours prior to cooking. This removes the starch so that it does not stick together. The end result will produce a perfect bowl of fluffy rice. Fill a large pot of water with about 6-8 cups of water, 2 tbls. salt, and the rice. Let it soak for 5 hours.

Once the 5 hours has passed, drain the rice and set aside. In the same large pot, add about 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add 2 tbls. of salt and the rice. Bring back to a boil and cook about 5-6 minutes. The rice should be al dente (a little firm to the bite). Drain the rice and rinse quickly with cold water and set aside.

Peel and slice the potato in 1/8″ thick rounds. In the same large pot, add 3/4 cup of the butter or oil (I use half oil, half butter) to the pot. Add 1/2 packet of  Sazón seasoning and let it come to a boil. Now add the sliced potatoes to the pan, making a solid layer on the bottom.

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Sprinkle a little salt on top of the potatoes. This layer of potatoes will prevent the rice from sticking and burning. The potatoes will become golden brown and crispy. This is known as Tadig. It is delicious. You will want to serve it along with the rice. You can also use pieces of left over pita bread instead of the potato to make the Tadig.

Now it is time to steam the rice. Spoon the rice into the pot and form a pyramid. Take the handle of a wooden spoon and poke about 5 holes into the rice so that the steam will vent through as it cooks.

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Cover the rice with a clean dish towel or dish cloth and place the lid on top of it. Be sure that the towel is not hanging over the sides near the flame. Cook on a medium-high flame for about 15 minutes. This will help to make the potatoes form a crust.

Dissolve 1/4 cup butter into 1 cup of hot water. Add the remainder of the Sazón seasoning and mix well. Drizzle it over the rice, put the dish towel back on along with the lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook for about 50 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool about 5 minutes. Spoon the rice into a large bowl. The rice will be fluffy and delicious.

Remove the potato crust (Tadig) and set aside on a plate. The crunchy potatoes will be a big hit.

Tadig
Tadig

Enjoy!




Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash

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Risotto con Zucca Arrostita

Risotto is made with Arborio rice, a short grain Italian rice, that is known for its silky, creamy goodness. The slow cooking method used to prepare it brings out the starch with creates the creaminess.   I’m sure you will agree that it is well worth the extra effort. It can be served as a main dish or a side dish. This recipe is made with butternut squash, but you can use almost any vegetables you prefer, and sausage or pancetta are also delicious options.

Ingredients for butternut squash:

20 – oz. butternut squash cubed
Salt
Black pepper
Olive oil
1/2 – tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 – tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

Directions:

You can buy pre-cubed butternut squash or if you buy a whole one, peel it, remove the seeds, and make 1 inch cubes.  Place the cubes in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, salt, black pepper, thyme, and nutmeg.  Mix well.  Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread the butternut squash over it. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until tender.  Set aside until the risotto is cooked.

Ingredients for the Risotto:

1 – cup Arborio rice
32 – oz. chicken stock (preferably organic)
1 – shallot
1 – clove garlic
1/2 – cup dry white wine
1/2 – cup parmigiano reggiano
Salt
Black pepper

Directions:

Melt butter in medium sized sauce pan. Dice the shallot and garlic then add to the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Sauté on medium heat until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, heat the chicken broth in a separate sauce pan.

Add the rice to the onion and garlic and stir, making sure to coat all the rice with the butter. Cook about 1-2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the wine. Stir and cook until reduced by half.

Start adding the warm chicken broth one ladle at a time. Stir constantly on a medium-low flame, cook the rice until almost all the liquid is absorbed then add another ladle of chicken broth.

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Continue this process until all or most of the broth is gone. It is important to add the broth a little at a time so that the rice will release its starch to create a creamy sauce. It may not take all 32 oz. of the broth. Taste the rice after about 15 minutes to test and continue to add broth as needed until the rice becomes smooth, creamy and al dente (it should be a little firm to the bite).

Once the rice is al dente, add a pat of butter and the parmigiano reggiano and mix well. Add the roasted butternut squash and fold in. Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!




Pork Fried Rice

 

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This recipe is a great all-in-one meal for any night of the week. You can use leftover rice and leftover roast pork to make this dish, which makes it even easier and faster to make, or you can make it all fresh. Chicken is also a great substitute for the pork.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 – cups cooked rice
2 – eggs
1 – lb. pork cutlet
2 – scallions
1 – cup frozen green peas
1/2 – tsp. Adobo seasoning
3 – tbls. low-salt soy sauce
1 – tbls. sesame oil
3 – tsp. hoisin sauce

Marinade for pork:
2 – tbls. low-salt soy sauce
2 – tbls. cornstarch

Directions:
Soak the raw rice in water for about 10 minutes to reduce the starch, then drain and cook it according to package directions. Be sure to add a little salt to the water. While the rice is cooking, make thin, diagonal slices of the pork and place in a bowl.  Mix together the marinade and add it to the sliced pork. Cover and let it marinate about 10-15 minutes.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Heat a little canola oil in a large skillet and add the eggs. Let cook about 20 seconds and then mix with a fork to form small pieces. Remove the egg from the skillet and set aside. Add a little more oil to the skillet and add the carrot and Adobo seasoning. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring often. Push the carrots to one side, add the pork and cook until the pork is no longer pink. This should only take about 3 minutes. Add the peas, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil. Mix well and cook another 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice, scallion, and cooked egg, mix through and cook about one minute more.

Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings