Baked Tunisian Eggplant and Pepper Frittata

Egg Cookery

Baked Tunisian Eggplant and Pepper Frittata, II

Adapted from nytimes.com/cooking

So…what exactly is a frittata? To put it plainly, it’s the Italian version of an omelette or a Spanish tortilla de patatas. It’s eggs cooked in a skillet with a variety of vegetables, meats and/or cheese. Frittata comes from the Italian word for “fried.” It’s quite easy to cook up and it’s delicious. And yes, this one does one of my favorite veggies: eggplant.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ pounds eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • Salt, to taste
  • 8 eggs
  • ½ cup minced parsley
  • 2 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Baked Tunisian Eggplant and Pepper Frittata, pedazo

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F (232C).
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease it with cooking spray.
  3. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and score down the middle, being careful not to cut through the skin. Place the eggplant on the foil-covered baking sheet cut side down. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the skin has begun to shrivel and the eggplant has softened. Remove from the oven and transfer to a colander, cut side down. Allow to cool and drain for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the oven down to 350F (177C).
  5. Cut the eggplant into small dice. It’s ok if the eggplant falls apart when you cut it.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until tender for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt. Stir in the eggplant and cook for one more minute, stirring. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Place the remaining tablespoon of oil in a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Brush the sides of the pan with the oil and place it in the oven. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the parsley, cheese, pepper, cinnamon and cayenne. Stir in the eggplant mixture.
  8. Remove the skillet from the oven and pour in the egg mixture.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the frittata is lightly browned on the top and set.
  10. Cool for 10 minutes or longer before serving.

Comments: This is a great vegetarian meal, loaded with high-quality protein and essential nutrients from the eggs as well as delicious, wonderful vegetables. I would recommend using more cayenne pepper. I didn’t want to add anymore because my mom isn’t very tolerant of spicy foods but I think a little more spiciness would have suited the frittata. If you have leftovers, make yourself a frittata sandwich (the Spanish have bocadillos de tortilla).

Baked Tunisian Eggplant and Pepper Frittata, pedazo II

Northern Greek Mushroom and Onion Pie

Other, Vegetarian

Northern Greek Mushroom and Onion Pie, pedazo

Adapted from nytimes.com/cooking

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have never liked mushrooms. In fact, I have always detested them. However, recently I have found that I actually kind of like portobellos. Everyone says they have a stronger taste than the regular champignons but to me they don’t have that metallic sort of taste I always hated in champignons. So, here’s another recipe with mushrooms that just happens to be Greek, one of my favorite cuisines.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 ½ pounds of portobellos, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough

Northern Greek Mushroom and Onion Pie

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring until they begin to wilt and add salt to taste. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook the onions, stirring from time to time until they are very soft and beginning to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until they begin to sweat and soften.
  4. Stir in the paprika and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender and most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, feta and pepper.
  6. Grease a 10- or 12-inch tart pan with olive oil. Layer in 7 sheets of phyllo dough, placing them not quite evenly on top of one another so that the edges overlap the sides of the pan all the way around. Brush each sheet with olive oil before adding the next sheet. Fill with the mushroom and onion mixture. Bring the overhanging edges of the dough in over the filling, brshing each sheet with more olive oil.
  7. Layer 5 more sheets of dough over the top, brushing each sheet with olive oil.
  8. Crimp the edges into the sides of the pan. Pierce the top of the pie in several places with a sharp knife.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 to 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Comments: We all really enjoyed this pie and I didn’t mind the mushrooms at all even though it’s chock-full of them. The feta cheese gives the flavor a nice little tweak. Don’t be alarmed by the large quantity of mushrooms. As you cook them and the water evaporates, they will shrink. Because it is a large amount of mushrooms, I recommend using a large pot to cook them in. Also, pay attention to the directions on the packaging of the phyllo dough. This dough dries up really quickly if left out in the open so you should work as quickly as possible. This can easily be made into a vegan meal by omitting the feta cheese but I highly recommend adding the cheese if your diet allows it.

Northern Greek Mushroom and Onion Pie, pedazo II

Polenta al Forno with Spinach, Ricotta and Fontina

Other

Polenta al Forno with Spinach, Ricotta and Fontina

Adapted from nytimes.com/cooking

Polenta is a staple in the Argentine pantry. It’s eaten widely in all shapes and forms. We even have our soccer players starring on ads for Presto Pronta (the common brand for instant polenta in Argentina). I absolutely love polenta and I was craving it when I got back home from college. I have an account in New York Times Cooking online and I found this recipe. It seemed like it could be really good and I wasn’t disappointed.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh spinach
  • 2 cups ricotta
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
  • 1 cup medium or fine cornmeal (or polenta)
  • 6 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Blanch the spinach in a large pot of boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Squeeze all the excess moisture from the spinach and roughly chop.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the chopped spinach and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the cayenne, half the Parmesan and all but 2 tablespoons of the Fontina. Stir well. Keep refrigerated while preparing the polenta.
  5. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour the cornmeal or polenta slowly into the water and stir with a wooden spoon.. Continue to stir as mixture thickens for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Turn heat to low. Cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If the polenta becomes quite thick, add ½ cup of water, stir well and continue cooking. Add up to 1 cup more of water as necessary to keep the polenta soft enough to stir.
  7. Remove the polenta from the heat and add 6 tablespoons of butter. Stir well.
  8. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Ladle in about half of the warm, soft polenta. Spread with a spatula to make a thin layer. Spoon the spinach mixture evenly over it. Top with the remaining polenta and spread to smooth the surface.
  9. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and Fontina.
  10. Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The top should be nicely browned or a rich golden color. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Polenta al Forno with Spinach, Ricotta and Fontina, lado

Comments: I was very satisfied with how this dish turned out. I am in love with polenta and I also love the combination of spinach and ricotta, a common ravioli filling in Argentina. If you’re using instant polenta, like I did, do not follow the procedure described above for cooking it. Presto Pronta, the one I used, literally cooks in about a minute. Once cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the butter until it’s melted. You can make ahead up to step 8. If you do so, cover it and refrigerate. Bring it back to room temperature before baking. Since it was just my parents and I eating, I made half of the recipe and used a 9-inch square baking dish instead of a 9×13.

Polenta al Forno with Spinach, Ricotta and Fontina, pedazo

Pumpkin Chili

Vegan

Pumpkin Chili

Adapted from Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon

Have I mentioned that I love anything pumpkin? Well, I do. I have also recently discovered that I really like vegetarian chili; not only does it taste good, it’s a good way of combining veggies and protein in one. So, this recipe was perfect. It’s also quite easy and quick to make so I made it for lunch one day.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup pure pumpkin (canned)
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

  1. Line a skillet with a thin layer of water and sauté the onion until it is translucent.
  2. Add the chili powder and ground cumin, stirring to coat the onion. Continue to cook until all the liquid has cooked off.
  3. Add the broth and pumpkin and stir to combine.
  4. Add the beans and stir.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the beans are warm.

Comments: I loved the combination of kidney beans and onions with a hint of pumpkin and all the strong spicy taste. Like I said, it’s really fast to make so you can make it at any time if you’re in a hurry. The original recipe also included ¼ cup of canned green chilies but I was unable to find any at my supermarket. Don’t forget a slice of bread to soak it in the leftover sauce!

Pumpkin Chili, plato