Saturday, August 17, 2013

Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Tomato/Mushroom filling and Tofu Ricotta

My computers doing weird things - sorry if anything screws up in this post.

Quick post - the other night they had a sale on locally grown produce at Shop n' Save and I picked up the means to make a really great casserole which we had Friday night.

I meant to post this last night but wrote half of it, and am finishing it up now because I never got around to actually posting it.

The recipe we based this on can be found here, but in the end our version was not much like it except for the use of eggplant and zucchini.

I'll give you a rundown of our version:

Jason and Gina's Version of That Recipe

What you'll need:

1 large eggplant (sliced thin, horizontally)
1 large zucchini (sliced thin, horizontally)
4 large tomatoes (chopped into small cubes)
1 small red onion chopped
1 shallot chopped (honestly, if you dont have a shallot or dont feel like buying one, using just onions is fine)
about 8 sliced mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup of red wine
1/4 cup of fresh chopped basil
2 tablespoons of olive oil (and then more to coat the sliced eggplant and zucchini)
about a teaspoon and a half of dried oregano
about a teaspoon and a half of dried parsley
salt and pepper
about 1/2 cup, maybe more of panko bread crumbs

1 recipe of tofu ricotta (Vegan with a Vengeance pg 133 which is pretty much just 1 block of tofu, a few cloves of garlic chopped small, salt/pep, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and fresh basil with some olive oil and you smash it all together) - or if you're not vegan use for real ricotta or feta.

Whatchoo do:

1.  Sigh with blissful content at the fact that it's Friday.  Preheat the oven to 425.  Use 2 baking trays and line them with the sliced eggplant and zucchini.  You'll want to brush the sliced eggplant and zucchini with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.  Put these into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside until you're ready to assemble the casserole.

2.  In the meantime, preheat a pot or sauce pan and then heat up the olive oil.  Once hot, saute the onion and shallot for 3 minutes.

 Then add the garlic and saute for a minute.  Then add the mushrooms, basil, oregano and parsley and some salt and pepper and saute for 6-8 minutes, until the mushrooms release their mushroomy goodness and become soft and delicious looking.

 Add the red wine and bring it to a boil then immediately add the tomatoes.  Bring them to a boil and then simmer for another minute or so.

 3. Use a shallow casserole dish and line it with a layer of eggplant, then a layer of the tomato goodness, then a layer of ricotta.  Then add a layer of zucchini, a layer of the tomato/mushroom stuff, and ricotta.  Then a layer of eggplant again - and so on, you get the idea.  Once done layering, top with the bread crumbs.

4.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Feed.

It turned out slightly soupy or stewey, thus the use of a bowl - but it was delicious.

I think a good variation on this would be to chop kalamata olives and artichokes and add those on top of the bread crumb layer.  Next time.

I also think this would make a good spread for a sandwich - something I intend to try today, for lunch.

I'm up ungodly early today because we are helping Gina's sister attain a couch to take back to college with her because we are awesome.

Have a good weekend!  Here is a picture from last week of Gina holding a tray of chickpea patties.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In which we make everything...

So...  You know how over the course of this blog we've documented how as a result of moving to the suburbs and into a township where the Subway doesn't even carry the veggie patty we subsequently began to cook for ourselves?

Well, recently we've been way too quick to order that no cheese pizza (damn you Doughboys for being so incredible!), or just go to Loving Hut when Gina is working in Robinson - which is pretty freaking often.

As a result, we poor.

The straw that broke the camel's back, (in a totally cruelty free way), was when I decided that I really needed to buy this piano:

My friend's Aunt was selling it for steal!  (Plus, it's super sweet. Gina loves to hear me play the theme songs to old video games which, to her infinite luck, I still remember how to play.  And play often.)

What happened was, the day of the piano's arrival was dawning and we came to the startling realization that we had maybe had one too many bowls of Pho at Loving Hut.  One too many slices of that insanely satisfying Doughboy's pie (I swear to God they bake crack into the crust you need it so much after you've tasted it.)  In short, we were in over our heads.

So, like the modern minded people we are we started texting solutions back and forth (we were at work) and what we finally came up with was this:

1) A drastic cut to the restaurant scene.
2) No more buying of things we can make ourselves unless on a very special occasion:
      (a) Tofurkey products (lunch meat, brats, actual tofurkeys)
      (b) breads (!!!!)
      (c) fake meats like Boca Burgers, seitan cutlets, etc...
3) a couple weeks of No-Internet-Purchasing (I'm referring to you, iTunes - you unworldly temptation after a beer or two...)

I tried to add a number (4) in which Gina sews me new jeans and I cobble new shoes for us but she drew the line.

This past friday night, as a result, we began simplifying.

We finally broke out that breadmaker we got as a wedding gift and Gina made two loaves of delicious bread.  A Rosemary('s baby) Bread, and an Oatmeal Bread.

Here's Rosemary Bread piping hot, coming out of the machine and still in the bread pan:

And here's she is in all her glory - and the bread too:

I dont have any pics of the Oatmeal bread.  Gina made it while I was hiking on Saturday (more on that later).

We then made chickpea cutlets from the Veganomicon, and veggie patties.  I forgot to photograph the cutlets, but you've seen those before.  The veggie patties turned out way better than I thought they would.  They were also from the veganomicon, but I baked them instead of frying them and they turned out really wonderfully firm.  Here they are in the oven, baking:

And here they are finished:

I thought they turned out really good.  Other one's we've tried turned out really mushy, but these were really firm.

We then put our stash of patties and cutlets into the freezer like so:

Once there, they became fast, inseparable friends with that bag of mustard greens, the box of leftover filo dough, and that blue topped tupperware container in which rest like 2 leftover pierogies.  We hear them all murmuring to one another in the dead of the night in a language that we do not understand.  It's unsettling.

Anyway, we've been living on them ever since.

As I mentioned, Saturday I got up bright an early, met up with a co-worker, and traveled to OHIO to hike at a lake called Mosquito Lake.

And let me tell you, never has a lake been more aptly named.

It was scenic as hell though.  Here's some nature for you:

It was a really nice hike, lots of mosquitoes though.  We had a good time.

Tonight for dinner we had Pasta e Fagioli (said:  Pasta Fazoooooool) and because I am just not the kinda guy who documents his every action in iPhone photos, I forgot to take a picture of it.  Wait up - I'll snap one right now, of the leftovers in the fridge:

Sorry.  It looked way better when it was in a bowl.

People in my family who see this will notice two things almost immediately.  (1) that I used the wrong type of pasta, and (2) that I used the wrong type of bean.

My family makes a very different version of Pasta e Fagioli, I've learned, than - like - the rest of the world.  Ours is elbow macaroni, kidney beans, and a marinara slightly different than our families spaghetti sauce recipe (yeah, I still cant make it as good as my Mom's.)

Historically, Pasta e Fagioli (which literally translates to pasta and beans) was peasant food (which is why Gina and I will now be living on this forever in addition to our chickpea cutlets and veggie patties).  And, most strikingly different than the way we make it is that if you order this in most Italian restaurants around here what you get it pretty much a soup.

I just did some extensive, exhausting research (wikipedia) and actually discovered that the consistency of the dish can vary in thickness.  It's not actually classified as a soup (at least in wikipedia).

Whatever, its awesome.

The version we made tonight - because I sure as hell wasn't buying anything else until we get paid - consisted of Quinoa Pasta Rotelli left over from before we were poor (we can just add that one right up there on the list of things never to enter the kitchen of our house before we moved in) and Cannellini beans (they're close to kidney beans, right?)

I thought it turned out pretty good.

More to come on all this.