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Fairy Tale Eggplant Pasta with Wilted Arugula & Basil

Is there a better name for a vegetable? For me, no. For others, probably. But when I saw fairy tale eggplant for the first time last weekend at the farmers market I immediately felt enchantment in the air. I waited for a moment to see if a unicorn would poke its head around the corner of the tent…..just a moment… Apart from their adorable miniature size fairy tale eggplant do not differ too much from your average eggplant. Wanting a refreshing summer dish, I found pasta the best way to go. Sautéing the eggplants with garlic and lots of spring onions. A touch of lemon zest over thin pasta noodles with lots of fresh arugula and basil and finished with a drizzle of cool olive oil.

Fairy Tale Eggplant Pasta with Wilted Arugula & Basil:
10-15 fairy tale eggplant
2-4 servings of pasta (I used pasta made with corn flour, any variety will work)
coconut oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
chopped spring (green) onion, enough to equal 2 large handfuls
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
a pinch of chili flakes
fresh arugula
fresh basil
1 large tomato
olive oil
salt and pepper
 
Coat a medium-large skillet with coconut oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the spring onions and chopped fairy tale eggplant and cook until the eggplants are soft and tender. Roughly 15-20 minutes, stir occasionally, they will loose their bright purple color. Stir in the lemon zest and pinch of chili flakes while the eggplants are cooking. While this is going on cook your pasta. When both are done turn off the heat. Toss the arugula in with the eggplant for a minute until wilted, add the pasta and toss everything together lightly. Transfer to a large bowl. Top with lots of fresh basil, chopped tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and the lemon juice to taste. Serve with a light salad and a lemon wedge. 

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.

Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions & Veggies

Pasta. Plain. & Simple.

Pesto Pasta with Caramelized Onions & Veggies

Cooking for one on the go can be a bit of a challenge at times. I am not proud of my canned soup habit….but I will not deny the numerous nights a can of vegetable lentil with a bit of soft cheese stirred in makes its way onto my table. TONIGHT, however, it is all about the pasta. Pasta is delicious and extremely versitle. You can do almost anything with it.

This pasta dish is simple, quick, and great for a tasty/creative meal for one (or two).

My add-ins: onion, peas, broccoli, olives, and tomato.

Lets start with an onion ~

Chop half an onion, I used a yellow and love my onions chopped thin & lengthwise.

With a little garlic and olive oil I sauteed my chopped onion until it became caramel in color and a bit sticky (mmmmm)

While your onions are cooking boil a pot of water and cook your pasta accordingly. I used a whole wheat spaghetti that was perfect after ten minutes, I suggest checking so you don’t overcook. What makes this recipe great is using what you have on hand. Any veggies will do and I had a bag of frozen broccoli and peas at my disposal. After my pasta had been cooking for a few minutes I dumped my frozen vegetables into the pot as well.

When the PASTA is ready drain everything into a strainer then pour back into the pot. Add a chopped tomato, black olives, and a good spoonful or two of pesto. STIR. Serve along side an arugula salad. Some goat cheese and crusty bread would pair well. And you have yourself a tasty and quick meal for one(or two).

~

Balsamic Chickpea Avocado Tomato Salad

While at the store the other day I spotted a crate of bright local tomatoes, and I thought cold summer salad!  The fact that I am kitchen-less has nothing to do with it.  Honestly.  It has been a while since I’ve had a good avocado as well so I decided to marry the two in a union of epic proportions.  Chickpeas were thrown in for protein and a balsamic vinegar sauce went on top.  The combination of crunchy, creamy, smooth, tang was good enough to knock your socks off.

~ A very affordable and tasty dish for the financially troubled college student ~

Chickpeas.  Rinsed and Drained.

The best thing about fresh local tomatoes are the crazy and whacky shapes they tend to come in.  When every tomato is different the possibilities are endless…. This one had a swirl on it’s backside resembling the top of a soft serve ice cream cone.  Tomatoes trying to be like ice cream?  -Okay in my book any day of the week.

If you can picture it, I have my makeshift paper towel ‘cutting board’ on a stool in the middle of my 15 x 15 dorm room.  Get ready mom, I am going to take complete control of your kitchen in 7 days time, and I won’t be looking back.

I have a love and hate relationship with avocados.  Normally you have to let them sit out for a few days till they are ready to eat.  My problem, I can never tell when that day is.  The worst is to cut open an avocado ready for its smooth and scrumptious interior and find 70% of it still hard as a rock.  You can put it in the fridge, and wait for it to ripen.  But it will never be the same.  Resulting in a wasted avocado and a disgruntled cook.

This avocado, however, was perfect.  Perfect as perfect can be.  I picked out one that was ready to eat immediately, leaving no room for error.

If this is not the avocado king I would please like you to correct me.

[<3]

Next came the sauce.

The first thing that came to mind while constructing this was how lovely some fresh ground black pepper would be.  Hand in hand with tomatoes and an avocado, no?  …And I didn’t have any.  Once I got over the shock and got on myself for having no pepper but plenty of concentrated canned panang curry paste imported from Thai Land.  Why I have this over pepper when the only cooking appliance I own at the moment is a blender is beyond me.  I dug around and found a bottle of aged red wine vinegar.  I’ll take it.  Mixed with salt and some garlic grape seed sesame oil.  The vinegar provided the perfect tang for this dish that I promptly forgot about my lack of pepper.

Poured over top.  This would be great paired with a crusty baguette and a good glass of red wine.  On a porch somewhere far away from the city 😉

~ Balsamic Chickpea Avocado Tomato Salad ~

1 can of chickpeas [drained & rinsed]
1 large tomato [chopped]
1 avocado [chopped]
~ Dressing ~
2-3 tbsp aged balsamic vinager
garlic grape seed sesame oil and salt [to taste]
Chop.  Mix.  Plate.  Done.

Afterwards fruit, peanut butter, and graham crackers commenced.

I don’t think there is anything better then a thick, almost chewy yet still crunchy, graham cracker, topped with a large smear of natural peanut butter and then sprinkled with dried fruit.  Dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, and golden raisins to be exact.

So good I went back for another.

~ Happy weekend everyone ~

Cupcakes, Figs, & Art

Good day!  So I am determined to be in bed before 1 tonight.  Hence I’m writing before dancing.  This is a first.  My mornings as of late have been no fun.  Not sleeping enough = exhaustion which = no desire to make breakfast.  This morning was loose cereal and dried cranberries.  Not a typical start of the day meal, tomorrow will be better!

I have also decided to start doing a ‘song of the day’  A new song everyday, because my favorite song changes from day to day .. at least.  Get ready for some good beats 😀

Today is ‘El Pico’ by RATATAT

Let this song get to the end, thats when it gets really good 😉

I fared much better with lunch, a salad with napa cabbage, arugula, and another green I can’t name 😮 with cherries, figs, and a homemade vinaigrette.  BLISS.

Along with the salad was a sandwich goddess.  A red pepper hummus sandwich on freshly backed olive bread with greens, tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese.  ❤

This bread was loaded with herbs and actual olive pieces.  Talk about love at first sight.

Favorite part of my work day?  Watching old dance competitions from the Lindy Focus event I went to this past winter. I WILL be more productive tomorrow 😛  I am super pumped for some dancing today.  2 days a week is not enough.

WAIT – A forgotten work highlight, if you will.  Someone dropped off cupcakes.  CUPCAKES 🙂  They were pretty cute and the size of your head, literally.

They were very photogenic cupcakes, but their looks were deceiving.  I cut a small piece to try and was dissapointed at the pure sugar [in a bad way] bland taste.  They were nothing special.  S-I-G-H.  So I resolved to just take cute shots of them instead.

I ❤ sprinkles.

Dinner was a hodge podge of snacks.  Popcorn, a stick cheese, some black bean soup and crackers.  I’m ready for real food at home in my kitchen, but it’ll have to wait.  So presently I’m living up the snacks.

I also took pictures of some of the artwork that is downstairs by the lobby.  Thought it was interesting enough to share 😉

I thought these were very bright and colorful.  Love the touches of mixed media.

“Pray for the powerless”

Mixed Media [<3]

These two black and white photographs are huge and hang in the ‘mini’ gym downstairs, so I spend a lot of time looking at them.  They take on a silent beauty after days of staring 😉

Question: Favorite artist or art style anyone?