Sunday, October 16, 2011

Eggplant, Eggplant! Crostinis and Pitas.

Hello friends! To those of you who are regular "Krista's Kitchen" readers, I want to apologize for my absence of over two weeks. Nothing too exciting going on, I've just been working more (scroll to the end of this post for upcoming cooking class dates), plus dealing with the seasonal "sickies" (as I type this I have one child on an antibiotic and inhaler and another on the couch with a stomach flu). Lately, at the end of the day, I've found myself un-inspired to try anything new and too tired to write about it even if I had bothered to try a new recipe. I'm going to try to do better this week. I'm thinking about easing back in with two fall favorites: chicken pot pie and a shrimp and sausage stew this week, so stay tuned!

My last post, back in September, was about Eggplant Parmesan. Well, my grandma sent still more eggplant last week. When my husband noticed that I was snapping pictures while preparing this dinner Thursday night, he pointed out, "Your last post was about eggplant."
"Yeeees," I answered. And your point is?
"And now you're writing about eggplant again?" It sounded like more of a judgement than an observation....

I made some crack about changing the focus of my blog to only eggplant recipes. "All Eggplant. All The Time. You better learn to like it, because we're going to be eating a whole lot more. I ordered a truck load just this morning...."

He was not amused. Neither were my children.

I thought that both of these recipes were good. The crostini was my favorite. Totally yummy. And while he is clearly not a fan of the eggplant, I'm pleased to announce that my husband liked it too. But our daughters politely asked for plain bread after taking the required one-bite-to-try-it. At least they weren't repulsed and gagging. They just gave me the "Ummm. No. No thank you." I'm counting this as a small victory.

I found the following two recipes in the August 2010 edition of Cooking Light magazine- one for each eggplant. While my family would have probably been better served with a pot of my homemade chicken noodle soup, it was really time for me to try something new. It has been too long. Below are the results of the only 2 new recipes that I have tried this month.

Both recipes used eggplant prepared the same way- grilled.

To prepare the eggplant for grilling, I sliced them into 1/2" slices. Then I placed the slices in a colander and sprinkled them with salt to draw out the moisture. Let them sit like this for 30 minutes to drain.

While the eggplant drained, I prepared my bread slices for the crostini recipe. I forgot to purchase a whole grain baguette (recommended by the recipe) on my big shopping trip this week, so I ran to the corner store for the bread before preparing the recipe. I could only find French bread. I opted to slice it and brush with olive oil.

Then I toasted the bread between my Pampered Chef Grill Pan and Grill Press.

It worked beautifully!

By the time the bread was all toasted, the eggplant was ready to go. I rinsed off the excess salt and then pressed out more of the moisture with paper towels.

Brush the eggplant with olive oil on both sides,

Then into the grill pan, until golden brown and soft.

While I had the grill pan fired up, I went ahead and grilled the red onion slices for our eggplant pitas.

Now for the sauces. Both the crostini and pitas had Greek yogurt based sauces that started out almost exactly the same. Each sauce called for 1/4 cup of non-fat Greek yogurt.

And freshly squeezed lemon juice.

I know that I've bragged about my Pampered Chef juicer here before, but it really is easy to use, and I love that it strains out the pulp and seeds.

Also into both sauces with the yogurt and lemon juice: garlic, salt, and pepper.

After this, the sauces differ. For the crostini recipe, one of the grilled eggplants is mixed into the sauce. I used my immersion blender, but a standard blender or food processor would work as well. I really enjoyed this "sauce". Really it is more of an eggplant hummus. It was delicious on the crostini, but I'd be happy to just dip in some pita chips and eat it as a snack.

The pita sauce received freshly chopped oregano.

As you can see, these two sauces that started out exactly the same yielded two very different finished products.

With all of the components for both recipes prepared, it was time for assembly.

I'll begin with the crostini, since it was my favorite.

Arrange bread slices on a serving platter.

Top with the eggplant hummus.

Toss some arugula, tomatoes, and fresh mint with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper.

Arrange the "salad" over the hummus and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Slices of fresh Parmesan would be wonderful here, but I just had the grated stuff from a can this week. Still good!

Let's zoom in...

Mmmm. I loved all of the flavors working together here.

Now for the super easy pita assembly.

Just spread some of the yogurt sauce in a pita.

Stuff with eggplant and onion slices.

Add in more of the arugula salad.

And tah-dah! Dinner. Or lunch.

I ate one pita for dinner, then wrapped one for lunch the next day. For the record, I liked it better the next day. Maybe because it's one of those recipes that just tastes better the next day or maybe because the next day, it wasn't in competition with that delicious crostini.

Here are the recipes:

Eggplant Crostini from August 2010 Cooking Light
1 (1-pound) eggplant
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
16 (1/2-ounce) slices multigrain baguette
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1/4 cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup arugula
1 cup red, orange, yellow, and green cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, torn
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
2. Slice eggplant into 1-inch-thick slices; brush both sides evenly with 1 tablespoon oil. Place eggplant in a single layer on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until eggplant is tender. Brush both sides of bread slices evenly with 2 tablespoons oil. Place bread slices in a single layer on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 1 minute on each side or until toasted.
3. Combine eggplant, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon juice, and next 3 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon eggplant mixture on each bread slice.
4. Combine arugula, tomatoes, and mint in a bowl. Drizzle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons juice and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss to coat. Divide salad mixture evenly among bread slices; top evenly with cheese

Amount per serving
Calories: 175
Fat: 9.5g
Saturated fat: 2.1g
Monounsaturated fat: 5.3g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.8g
Protein: 6.2g
Carbohydrate: 17.7g
Fiber: 5.9g
Cholesterol: 4mg
Iron: 1.2mg
Sodium: 330mg
Calcium: 195mg

I used slices of French bread, toasted, in place of whole grain baguette. Also, I substituted the quartered cherry tomatoes with cut up Roma tomatoes.

Grilled Eggplant Pita Sandwiches with Yogurt-Garlic Spread from August 2010 Cooking Light
2 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup plain reduced-fat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cooking spray
4 (6-inch) pitas, cut in half
2 cups arugula

1. Place eggplant slices in a colander; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Toss well. Drain 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly; pat dry with paper towels.
2. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, yogurt, and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl.
3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
4. Brush eggplant and onion slices with oil. Place eggplant and onion slices on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.
5. Fill each pita half with 1 1/2 tablespoons yogurt mixture, one quarter of eggplant slices, one quarter of onion slices, and 1/4 cup arugula.

Amount per serving
Calories: 311
Fat: 8.2g
Saturated fat: 1.6g
Monounsaturated fat: 5g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.2g
Protein: 12.7g
Carbohydrate: 50.6g
Fiber: 9.2g
Cholesterol: 1.7mg
Iron: 3.5mg
Sodium: 697mg
Calcium: 117mg

Notes: I doubled the "salad" recipe from the crostini recipe and used it in place of plain arugula in these sandwiches. Enjoy!

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I've been busy with work lately...

If you're reading this from Northern Ohio or Northern Indiana you can see what I've been working on in person! There are 5 remaining stops on the Krista's Kitchen Fall Cooking Class Tour and it's not too late to sign up! The remaining dates/locations:

Wednesday October 19th Dream Dinners at Home Strongsville, OH

Wednesday November 9th Tortellini alla Panna Strongsville, OH

Saturday December 3rd Canning Quick Bread (Holiday Gifts) Medina, OH

Thursday December 8th Company's Coming- Holiday Brunch Warsaw, IN

Saturday December 10th Gingerbread Cookies Nappanee, IN

To get more details and/or register for a class email me at

Oh, and if you're in these areas and are interested in booking a Pampered Chef party (click HERE to check out the benefits you receive from hosting a show) please email me at the same address.

I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

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