Penne with Eggplant and Tomato Sauce

1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 32-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, chopped, juice reserved
12 green olives, sliced
1 tbsp. capers, drained
Italian Seasoning
Garlic powder

1 pound Penne pasta

Start a large pot of water for the pasta. Heat the oven to 425F.

On a baking sheet toss the diced eggplant and peppers with the olive oil. Place in oven and roast about 20 minutes until nicely browned.

In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon butter or oil in a 3-qt saucepan. Saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and the reserved juice, the olives, capers, salt and pepper to taste and a sprinkling of Italian Seasoning or oregano and garlic powder. Add the roasted vegetables. Simmer about 20 minutes.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with the sauce. Serve with a freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

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Sweet Potato and Bean Chili

Adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. This chili gets nice little zip by adding diced chipotle pepper before serving.

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground corriander
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or kidney beans (1 15-ounce can), drained
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (these can be hot, so add to your taste)

These directions are for the slow cooker, if you are preparing this on top of the stove you can cook everything in a large pot or dutch oven.

Heat the oil in a large frying, saute the onion, pepper and garlic until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the spices and stir, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sweet potatoes and toss with spice mixture, cook 1 minute.

Place the sweet potato mixture in a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Ad the beans, diced tomatoes along with their liquid and water. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours. Just before serving stir in the diced chipotle pepper. Or serve with chipotle sour cream (blend one pepper and some sauce with 1/2 cup sour cream in a blender or food processor).

This is a popular combination in my house, we also use sweet potatoes and black beans with the taco spice mix and serve with all the usual taco toppings.

Asparagus, Roasted with Pecans and Garlic

I made this up on the fly for Thanksgiving. I know it is nothing special but it was good and I would like to remember to do it again.

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup pecans

Toss the asparagus with the oil and garlic. Roast at 425F for 15 minutes. Add the pecans and toss, bake another 5-10 minutes, until done.

Turkey Pot Pie

Finally, we have internet access again. Hurricane Sandy reeked havoc on the cable line to our house.

And yes, we are still eating leftover turkey. Here is tonight’s recipe for pot pie, the vegetables always change. I like to top pot pie with a biscuit topping instead of pie crust, recipe follows.

1 tablespoon canola oil or butter
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 very large carrot or two regular carrots, sliced
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
1 medium zucchini, cut into a large dice
1 potato, cut into small cubes
1 small sweet potato, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
1 cup leftover turkey gravy, optional
1 cup coarsely chopped, cooked turkey (or more if you like more meat)
1 cup frozen peas
flour to thicken

Heat the oil over medium heat. Saute onion, celery and carrots 4-5 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add mushrooms and zucchini and saute another 3-4 minutes. Add both potatoes, water and gravy. There should be enough liquid to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the vegetables are just tender.

Add the turkey and peas. In a glass, add enough water to a couple tablespoons of flour to make a thick liquid. Stir some of the flour mix into the stew. Bring to a boil. If the stew is not thick enough, add more of the flour mix.

Remove from heat and pour into a 2-quart oven proof casserole dish.

Mix the biscuit dough and press out into the shape of your casserole. If you are using a wide dish you may need double the biscuit recipe.

Biscuit Topping
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons four
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening. Mix in buttermilk. Press out on floured board to size of baking dish.

Bake at 425F for 20 minutes until lightly browned. This is likely to boil over, so you might want to place it on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Fish Piccata

Usually I make this with chicken but I bought some frozen Pollock recently and wanted to try it out.  Luckily we were loaned a generator for the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to keep our freezer running.

1 pound fish fillets (or chicken pounded thin)
1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 small onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. capers, drained
juice of one lemon
2-4 Tbsp. white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil

In a large non-stick skillet melt the butter, saute the onion, shallot and garlic until softened. Remove from pan.

Dredge the fish in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, shaking off excess flour. Reheat the frying pan over high heat and add the oil. Add the fish and cook, browning both sides, about 2 minutes per side. If you have thick pieced of fish you will need to use a lower heat and cook them a bit longer.

When the fish is nearly cooked, add the onions, capers, lemon juice and wine. Cook a minute or two so the sauce comes together and thickens slightly.

Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh minced parsley if desired.

This dish is great over pasta or rice.

Last night I had an excellent Ravioli dinner at Romeo’s in Plainsboro, NJ. It inspired me to note that adding spinach with the lemon juice and wine to this dish would be very yummy. Next time…