Polenta with Eggplant Sauce

Inspired by New Vegetarian Cuisine by Linda Rosensweig. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1994.

The Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups diced eggplant
1 cup diced onion
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup finely diced mushrooms
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet with high sides over medium heat. Saute the eggplant and mushrooms until lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, onion and pepper and cook another 5 minutes until softened. Add tomatoes, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 40 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the polenta.

When the sauce is done, finish by stirring in the butter. Sprinkle with parsley and basil.

Polenta
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 cups water
1 Tbsp. butter
salt
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

There are many fancy directions for polenta but I never have a problem with my very unorthodox method.

In a heavy (LeCrueset) pot add the cornmeal, water, butter and salt. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a boil, whisking often. Turn the heat down to low, cook stirring often with a wooden spoon until smooth and thickened, about 20-30 minutes. Stir in the cheese.

To serve:
Pour polenta on a platter and top with some of the sauce. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

Simple Sesame-Soy Noodles

I have no idea where I took this recipe from. When our family first began eating a heavily influenced vegetarian diet I was on the hunt for any recipe that made tofu edible. I served these noodles with a Broccoli, Carrot, Cashew and Tofu stir-fry. The stir-fry was acceptable but the noodles are what carried the meal.

1/2 lb. Udon or Soba noodles
1 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. rice vinegar
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Begin cooking noodles
2. Whisk remaining ingredients, except scallions
3. Drain noodles, place in a bowl and toss with sauce. Top with scallions.

Broccoli, Carrot & Cashew Stir-Fry with Tofu
1 lb. firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp. dry wine (rice wine works fine)
5 heaping cups broccoli florets
3 large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally
1/3 cup unsalted, toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
Extra soy sauce

1. Heat oil & soy sauce in wok. Add tofu and stir-fry 2-3 minutes.
2. Add wine, broccoli and carrots. Cover and steam 5 minutes over medium heat.
3. Uncover, turn up heat and stir-fry 2-3 minutes more until liquid is absorbed.
4. Toss with cashews and serve.

Poached Eggs

This method works well for me.

4-5 eggs
1/4 cup distilled vinegar

Fill a 12-inch skillet, or large pan with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil and add vinegar. Reduce to a gentle simmer.

Break each egg into a small cup. Gently add the egg to the water, tipping the edge of the bowl into the water.

Cook:
4 minutes – soft set
5 minutes – medium
8 minutes – hard
(I like to flip the eggs over about half way through cooking but it is not really necessary)

Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a clean dish towel or blot with a towel/paper towel.

Drying Herbs in the Microwave

The microwave is a great tool for drying herbs. It is easy, relatively quick and the end result is the next best thing to fresh.

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Dried purple and green sage

 

Use fresh herbs. Wash and dry the leaves thoroughly.

Use 2 cups loosely packed herbs.
Scatter the leaves on a 1-sheet double layer of paper towel.
Microwave on 100% (high) for 4 minutes.

Store in a tightly closed container.