Tomato, Mozzarella, & Farro Salad + Basil

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This salad is a perfect dish to whip up right now as farmers markets and grocery stores alike are overflowing with tomatoes. It shows off the tomatoes fresh taste with the tried and true compliments of mozzarella and basil. Combined with the chewy farro this is a healthy dish fit for any lunch + dinner + or picnic table! Serve on top of salad, or with grilled chicken. I ended up doubling the amount of basil, olives, and tomatoes shown below, I would definitely recommend doing so as well.

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Farro Salad + Basil ~ from Extra Virgin

1 pound farro

10 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered

large handful of fresh basil leaves

1 (5-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small chunks

2 ounces pitted kalamata olives

extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook farro according to package directions, you want your farro to be cooked but still have a nice chew (usually just under 20 minutes). Drain and rinse the farro in cold water. In a large bowl mix the farro with the tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and olives. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve right away or keep in the fridge.

Eggplant Parmigiana

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I am trying to be present here more. I think it would be good for my well being to cook more and thus post more. Let’s see how this plan goes.

According to River Cottage Veg this is a lovely dish to make on a long rainy afternoon when you don’t have much to do. It is the first recipe in the book, perfect to start my new cooking-more adventure with. So after work on a Thursday at 7:30 pm I embarked on the eggplant parmigiana journey. It would be no problem I thought, You just layer everything and cook! Not realizing that the sliced eggplant should sit for an hour and the sauce needs to be prepped then cook for an hour and once assembled the dish itself needs to bake for an hour. Determined to see it through I didn’t take as much time as needed to let the sauce thicken and the eggplant drain but I did eat around 11 pm that night and it was worth it. Next time, though, I’m saving this for a lazy weekend day… This cooking new things after work will be learning process. ūüėČ

Eggplant Parmigiana ~ Adapted from River Cottage Veg

4 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds)

4-5 tbsp of olive oil

2 balls of buffalo mozzarella (about 4 oz each)

finely grated parmesan cheese, or other hard cheese

For the sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 (14 oz cans plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (any stems and skin removed)

1 bay leaf

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

a pinch of sugar

*I ended up only using 2 (12 oz) cans of already chopped tomatoes. Maybe the ratio to the whole ones is different. Either way it isn’t a bad thing to end up with to much home-made sauce.

Trim the eggplants and slice lengthwise (thinly). Layer the slices in a colander and sprinkle with a little salt. Leave to drain for an hour or so. (I skipped this step but I think it is a useful one if you have the time).

Make the sauce: Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute   for about 10 minutes, stirring on and off, until soft and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer then simmer briskly stirring often for around 30-45 minutes. The end result should be a nice thick sauce. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Rinse off the eggplant slices and pat dry. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot fry a batch of eggplant slices for about 2 minutes per side, until golden and tender. Remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices adding a little more oil before each batch.

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. In an oven proof dish (8 by 10 inches) layer a third of the eggplant slices. Cover with sauce (make sure to remove the bay leaf first). Then top with teared pieces of the mozzarella and sprinkles of the grated parmesan. Repeat this layering process until the dish is full, about 3 layers of each.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is golden on top. Great on its own but also perfect with a large salad to make a meal.

Enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato

The anticipation of summer is in the air. And along with the lazy afternoons I’m daydreaming of spending on a picnic blanket, somehow the work load picks up. Funny how these two are playing hand in hand. To cheer myself up I induldged in purchasing this lovely lovely book that I have been awaiting to read:¬†la tartine gourmande. It is absolutely spectacular in every way. My friends laugh but I know that if you are reading this and love food/cooking like I do then wanting my life to be more like a cookbook is not crazy. One day…..one day.

BUT. . . . Until that day I have some equally delicious eggplant to share.

Eggplant has become my new favorite food. I can’t get enough of it….One evening I set out to make stuffed eggplant…became distracted by the roommate and ended up chopping and talking till I had a bowl full of eggplant circles instead of the intended slice down the middle. No matter…for then this dish was born and it is as easy as pie to make. Chop. Roast. Eat.

Roasted Eggplant with Tomato

One regular eggplant – rinsed and chopped (anywhichway)

I large can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes (fresh will be great when in season)

2 cloves chopped garlic – or a large spoonful minced

seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, dried basil)

Olive oil

Shaved parmesan cheese to top

Grease a baking sheet and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and chop the eggplant and mix in a large bowl with tomatoes. I drain some but not all of the juice, most will cook away regardless. Add garlic and a few dashes of spice. I normally toss a bit of olive oil in as well. Stir, then lay in an even layer on the baking sheet. Cooking times will vary around 45 min to an hour, I’ve done two before, and everything should be roasted perfection. Serve hot with shaved parmesan and Enjoy the tantalizing taste of eggplant.

A Very Broccoli Soup

Soup has to be one of my favorite things to make.

You can take almost anything, mix it together, and voila! You have a tasty and healthy meal my friend.

Back with an old recipe here in the spirit of winter. And YES it still knocks your socks off.

The old recipe can be found here The only changes I made are below:

Only used one potato, no corn, a bit more carrot and celery, and used coconut for the milk. And lets not forget that goats milk brie. I managed to not eat enough to top my dinner with a few delicious slices.

So go forth, make this soup your own and enjoy a good bowl of broccoli soup while the weather still permits.

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Click HERE for recipe

Goats Milk Brie Rollups

…My new addiction.

It’s good to have a new addiction every now and then….especially when it comes to food! The goat brie is lighter then normal and as a die hard goat cheese fan I knew when I found this it could only mean good things.

If you can keep yourself from eating all the cheese as you slice it, the goat brie makes a delightful appetizer paired with a smear of smokey baba ghannouj and/or white bean hummus on some local butter-head lettuce. Serve with a bowl of kalamata olives.

Just roll and eat ~

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Mother’s Orzo

From my mothers table

Everyone is always extra excited for dinner when we know my mother is making her orzo. A very simple and refreshing dish suitable for all varieties of taste-buds.

It is such a comfort to take my favorites from home and enjoy them up here…And to know nobody else will finish leftovers before I get to them myself doesn’t hurt either.

Combining the flavors of sharp salty feta, with crunchy seeds and tart lemon.

I enjoy my orzo topped with hot sauce and this dish is meant to be served warm to chilled.

Mothers Orzo

1lb Orzo cooked in vegetable stock

2 tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)

 1 cup chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

3/4 cup toasted pine nuts (walnuts and sunflower seeds are also very good)

1 bunch green onion, diced

1 bunch chopped fresh spinach (adjust amount to your preference)

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (can add more if needed)

1/4 cup olive oil (or oil of choice)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions in vegetable broth with a little olive oil. Once orzo is ready, drain, then return to pot. Toss with basil, feta, nuts/seeds, green onion, and spinach. In a seperate bowl whisk together olive oil and lemon juice then toss with orzo mixture and season to taste. I end up using a little less oil at times.

Would be a great side dish with Salmon and is also perfect for warmer weather when you’re looking for a chilled dish ~

Vegetable Broccoli Soup

Of the best variety.  You know, the knock your socks off variety of vegetable soup.

During the past week, winter finally struck the south.  Down to 20 degrees, and in the teens in the early morning.  This is crazy cold to me.  crazycrazycrazy.

SO. I present to you:  Vegetable Broccoli Soup ~

about 2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 large yellow onion

2 large to medium potatoes

2 medium sized carrots

2 stalks of celery

1 can of corn {or frozen}

8 cups of broccoli

8 cups of broth of choice

2-4 cups fresh spinach

1/2 milk of choice

garlic powder to taste

salt and pepper to taste

cheese ūüôā

Serves at least 8

First things first. ¬†Chop up the onion, nothing neat…as long as it in in random sized chunks and pieces you are more then good {!}

Cover the bottom of a large {tall} pot with olive oil.  Roughly 2 tbsp.  Add onion and cook on low to med heat for about 5 -8 minutes.  Until onion is soft.

Example of large hearty soup pot

While the onion cooks go ahead and chop up the two potatoes.

And the celery and carrots.  I used a bunch of baby carrots for a lack of larger ones.

Add chopped potatoes, carrots, and celery to the pot.  Give a good stir.  With a rustic wooden spoon if you prefer.

Add garlic, the 8 cups of broth {I used chicken but would have normally used vegetable}, the corn, and the 8 cups of broccoli {I used frozen broccoli}.  Give a good stir.

Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for about ten minutes.  Potatoes and broccoli should be tender and cooked through.  Since I made this in the morning I turned the heat off after about 10 minutes and let the soup cool down a bit before blending.

Since this is a family sized recipe you can cut it in half for smaller portions.  A hand blender probably would have been a smarter option, but instead I blended it in my regular blender in three batches.  Pouring into a large metal bowl as I emptied the pot.  Yes.  I had a a lot of time on my hands on this cold winter morning.  OR I was avoiding having to brave the outdoors. . .

As I blended each bath I would leave room at the top and add a few handfuls of the spinach.  Do this all three times.  Blend completley.  Then put in fridge if your are serving later.  If you are serving immedietly, pour all the blended soup back in the pot and heat on low to medium heat.

Add the 1/2 cup of milk.  Stir.  Garlic powder to taste.  Salt and pepper to taste.  And a large handful or two of cheese if desired.  When hot everything is ready to serve.

Topped with cheese and a garlic hot sauce.

In all honesty.  Some of the BEST soup.  I.  Have.  Ever.  Ever.  Had.

Now GO.  Go and keep yourself warm and out of the cold with some soup<3