Tag: local

Stuffed Eggplant

This was supposed to be an end of summer masterpiece.  Sometimes when you build a recipe up in your head and predict it will be fabulous, it can’t possibly meet your expectations.  It started when I bought another $1 eggplant from a stand at the Brookline Farmer’s Market.  Last year, I made zucchini boats which were kind of neat, so this time I figured I’d try stuffed eggplant.  I read through a bunch of different recipes like this one, and then gave it a go using the ingredients I had on hand.

The end result wasn’t inedible, it was just boring.  I felt like I was eating stuffing out of a theoretically edible bowl.  I say ‘theoretically edible’ because the eggplant shell still wasn’t very soft after an hour in the oven, and I had to scrape it with my fork to remove the flesh.  Although the eggplant looks reasonably pretty when it comes out of the oven, things go downhill pretty fast when you try to cut each shell into pieces.  So unless you’re going for initial presentation, actually stuffing the eggplant seems like a waste of time.  The filling itself did taste pretty good, but required even more salt and pepper in my dish.  None of the flavors were dominant, and the dish really needed a strong herb to give it some character. 

 So why am I sharing this recipe at all?  Because either you’ll, a) use this information to create a much better version of stuffed eggplant or, b) decide to use your eggplant in other ways.  Maybe Grilled Balsamic Eggplant Sandwiches


Stuffed Eggplant

1 T olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves torn and stems chopped, divided
1 large eggplant
6-7 white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 c. cooked brown rice
1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.  Cook shallot for 3-5 minutes, until just starting to brown.  Add Swiss chard stems, and cook until softened.

Meanwhile, halve eggplant, and scoop out the insides, leaving a 1/2″ shell.  Chop the eggplant pieces, and add to the frying pan.  Cook until softened, and then add the mushrooms and Swiss chard leaves.  When all of the vegetables are done, remove the pan from heat.  Add brown rice and almonds, and season generously with salt and pepper.

Place eggplant shells in a glass dish.  Fill with vegetable/rice mixture.  Cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Italian Baked Potatoes

When I went to the farmer’s market last week, I was stunned to see apples and squashes already.  Those are most definitely fall foods and I haven’t yet accepted the fact that my leisurely summer is coming to an end.  I filled my bag with eggplant and zucchini and peaches and almost ran away so I would not be faced with reality.

And then I spied local potatoes for just $1/lb., and threw some of those in my bag as well.  While you might not think of baked potatoes at the end of August, this recipe from Real Simple needs to be made now while tomatoes are still seasonal.  I managed to make this recipe decidedly less ‘simple’ and yet I think much better than the original.



Italian Baked Potatoes

2 large potatoes, scrubbed and poked with a knife
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 t olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried basil

Place potatoes in a 400F degree oven.  Meanwhile, toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place on a baking sheet.  After potatoes have cooked 30 minutes, place pan with tomatoes in the oven.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are soft, and tomatoes are roasted and split open.

In a small bowl, mix ricotta, Paremsan, garlic powder, and basil.  Place each potato on a plate and cut in a criss-cross fashion.  Top with ricotta mixture and roasted tomatoes and serve.

-Adapted from Real Simple

Grilled Balsamic Eggplant

While I was at the Brookline Farmer’s Market, I also picked up 2 enormous eggplants for just $1 each.  Now that’s a deal!  Last year I made Grilled Pesto Eggplant, but this time I wanted to let the eggplant marinate before bringing it to the BBQ to grill.  Later that night, the eggplant slices went on the grill with many other delicious items including chicken, sausages, and steak.


The eggplant got nicely charred on the outside and soft on the inside, and picked up the balsamic flavor.  But something was missing.  Cheese!  The next day, I created another sandwich using two pieces of eggplant and a slice of provolone cheese on a whole wheat bun.  With very little effort, you can have a great vegetarian double cheeseburger.


Grilled Balsamic Eggplant

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1″ slices
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 t minced garlic
Salt & Pepper

Mix oil, vinegar, and garlic in a shallow dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place eggplant slices in the dish one at at time, making sure to dip both sides in the marinade.  Cover the dish and place in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Cook on a grill until the eggplant slices are fork tender.


Tangy Potato Salad

I bookmarked this Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad from RecipeGirl a while ago, thinking it would be perfect for the 4th of July.  Of course that didn’t happen, but when I was invited over to a BBQ Friday night, I decided to make the recipe with local red potatoes from the Brookline Farmer’s Market.  I made a few other tweaks, using a heavier hand with the mustard and a lighter hand with the salt.

Since I needed to rename the recipe anyway, I thought I would reference the flavor – this potato salad is tangy!  With the mustard, red wine vinegar, and black pepper, there’s a lot of zing.  I enjoyed it though, and a few guests really liked it as an alternative to mayonnaise-based potato salad.  But no matter what kind of potato salad you make, I guarantee it will taste better if you’re relaxing in the backyard with a tiki torch.




Tangy Potato Salad

5 large red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 1 1/2″ chunks
1/4 c. chopped red onion
2 T chopped parsley
2 T chopped chives
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 T mustard
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t salt

Place cut potatoes in a large pot of cold water.  Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Rinse with cold water and allow to cool slightly.

Mix cooked potatoes with onion and herbs.  In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, mustard, pepper, and salt.  Pour dressing over potatoes and toss well.

 – Recipes adapted from Recipe Girl

Beets with a Blueberry Balsamic Reduction

When one of the vendors at the Brookline Farmer’s Market said that he had pulled the beets just that morning, he definitely had my attention.  Normally, I  roast beets, although last year I grilled beets as well.  This time I decided to try boiling them.  After simmering in water for about 40 minutes, the skins slipped right off.

Since I had a little time on my (beet stained) hands, I wanted to do somthing a little more interesting.  I found this recipe for a Blueberry Balsamic Reduction.  I happened to have blueberries on hand, and the recipe is as easy as putting a few ingredients in a pot and letting them simmer for a while.  I didn’t even use a blender since the cooked sauce was already fairly smooth.  I placed the sliced beets on a bed of fresh lettuce, and topped them with the sauce as well as chopped walnuts and fresh Paremsan.

This made an excellent salad, although the sauce was perhaps a bit too sweet on top of the beets which were sweet as well.  The original recipe suggested that the sauce could be paired with goat cheese.  Since the next meal to roll around was Happy Hour, I spread some goat cheese on a baguette, with a dollop of  Blueberry Balsamic sauce.  Oooh, now that was really good.  (And not just because it was served with wine.)

If the farmer hadn’t talked about his freshly harvested beets, I never would have bought them, and then discovered this sauce.  The best cooking inspiration always comes from talking about food!


Swiss Chard and Brown Rice Bake

After surveying my purchases from the Brookline Farmer’s Market, it was clear that the Swiss chard from Enterprise Farm was the most delicate, and needed to be used first.  That’s not a problem, since it’s a versatile vegetable.  I’ve used Swiss chard in soup and curry, and paired it with both pasta and potatoes.

This time I decided to pair the Swiss chard with brown rice, inspired by this recipe for Brown Rice, Feta, and Swiss Chard Gratin.  You could assemble this faster if you had leftover rice (or another whole grain) on hand, but instant brown rice only takes 5 minutes.

It was delicious hot from the oven on the first day, but I cut the rest into squares that are perfectly portable.  It’s a simple, almost rustic, dish that would make an easy meal.


Swiss Chard and Brown Rice Bake

1 T olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 large bunch Swiss chard, leaves torn and stems chopped
1 1/2 c. (dry) instant brown rice, cooked according to package directions and cooled
1/2 c. Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar, shredded
3 eggs, beaten
2 t fresh thyme

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add onion and Swiss chard stems, and cook for 10-15 minutes until softened.  Add Swiss chard leaves and cook for 2-3 minutes, until wilted.  Set aside to cool. 

In a large bowl, mix rice, cheese, eggs, thyme, and cooked vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour mixture into an 11″x7″ or 8″ square glass baking dish, and cook for 20-30 minutes at 350F.

Brookline Farmer’s Market

It’s August already!  The summer is flying by, but it’s peak season for some of my favorite vegetables.  And they’re especially great when grown locally.  I’ve been hitting farmer’s markets here and there this summer, including my visit to Allandale Farm.  Last week I made a special trip to the Brookline Farmer’s Market, accompanied by my friends Sarah and Vanessa.  The market is on Thursday afternoons right in Coolidge Corner.

Just look at all the fresh produce, like the familiar Swiss chard, corn, and lettuce:



And some (new to me) items, like purple peppers, white currants, and two toned squash:



Farmer’s markets are often a great chance to try new produce.  (Remember the watermelon radish from the winter market?) We decided we had to try these guys, lemon cucumbers:

My friend Marsha was working at the market, and told us they they had a light taste, with just a hint of lemon.  She was right, and here’s what they look like on the inside.

It was tough to decide what to buy – I wanted it all.  I ended up taking home lettuce, carrots, Swiss chard, lemon cucumbers, zucchini, and beets.  They have a wide variety of items at this market including turkey, beef, bread, goat cheese, fresh pasta, and ice cream.  Next time I will come to the market with some cold packs, and I am not leaving without trying the ice cream. 

My first order of business that night was a fresh and local salad, topped with my favorite Honey Mustard dressing

Every day this week, I’ll feature a dish I made with my local produce.  It may already be August, but there’s still plenty of time to scope our your local farmer’s market and load up on fresh fruits and vegetables.  Thanks to Sarah and Vanessa for prompting this trip, I had a great time!