Citrus Infused Pan-Seared Eggplant with Black Olives

 

Citrus Infused Pan-Seared Eggplant with Black Olives, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Simple may not always be better, but it is absolutely true that when it comes to vegetable side dishes keeping things simple and letting the vegetables speak for themselves goes a very long way. For example, grilling is one of the best ways to add a lot of flavor without any extra ingredients of complicated prep procedures. And eggplant is probably one of the most grill-friendly vegetables out there!

But, before the eggplant hits the grill (or a pan) it is important to soften it and let some of the bitterness drain out. Very often that means salting the sliced eggplant and letting it sit in between paper towels to absorb the moister that the salted eggplant will release. Doing this removes some of the bitterness that eggplant can sometimes have as well as make the eggplant less like a sponge.

This recipe does have one important trick that really elevates the flavors – rubbing the grilled eggplant slices with a clove or garlic to add that great garlic flavor! This is a trick that you often see used for making garlic bread to infuse garlic aroma into toasted bread – it avoids having to deal with raw garlic pieces, and it is very effective.

Finally, what makes this simple side dish come together is the lemon juice and lemon zest. This small amount of acidity and the freshness that lemon zest contributes really bring the simplicity to a new level. You can serve this elegant vegetable dish warm, as a side, or cold as a salad. Either way, give this a try and see whether you are with me when I say that simple is the way to go!!!

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Citrus Infused Pan-Seared Eggplant with Black Olives

What you’ll need:

2 large Italian eggplants, sliced into rounds

1 clove of garlic, peeled

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 cup black olives, sliced

2-3 teaspoons coarse salt

Cooking spray (or olive oil)

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash the eggplant, and slice into round slices (about 1/4 in (5 mm) in thickness). Place on the two layers of paper or kitchen towel, sprinkle with salt, then cover with another layer of towels, and let stand for 20-30 minutes. The salt will draw out some of the extra moisture out of the eggplant, and with it some of natural bitterness that eggplant sometimes has. Remove the paper towels, and pat dry the eggplant slices.
  2. Put a large grill pan over the high heat to make the pan really hot. Reduce the heat to medium, then spray with some cooking spray or brush with some olive oil. Place eggplant slices on and grill on both sides in batches until all the eggplant is grilled. You can also use an outdoor grill or a regular pan. The point is to blacken and cook the eggplant through, which will take 3-5 minutes per side.
  3. Use the garlic clove and rub the eggplant slices, so that they are infused with garlic aroma. Place the garlic rubbed eggplant into a large mixing bowl, add lemon juice, lemon zest, and sliced black olives. Mix well and you are done! If you like to add a bit more flavors to this simple side dish, you can drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle fresh parsley, or add a dash of crushed red pepper flakes if you are open to turning on the heat!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Grilled Eggplant

Grilled Eggplant
Grilled Eggplant, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Summertime and the grilling is easy… Well, that’s me paraphrasing the George Gershwin classic, but the statement is spot on. Grilling is easy, and it is my favorite way of preparing food during the hot summer months. Over the years I figured out how to grill quite a few different things, and at the end of the day grilling is really easy and with a little practice you can get really good at grilling almost anything.  My Grilled Portobello Steaks recipe was just the beginning of “From the Grill” section of this blog and in addition to that recipe and the Roasted Red Beets Hummus, there’s much more to come.

Today I am sharing a quick and easy way to make perfect grilled eggplant. Eggplant is a tricky vegetable to make because of its spongy texture that absorbs oil like crazy making almost every commonly encountered eggplant dish too oily and too rich. In the past I tried the trick where you sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices and let it sit between the paper towels, which does help but it adds salt and it takes time. More recently I started skipping all this and either simply cubing the eggplant, skin and all, or roasting the eggplant before stuffing.

Now this Grilled Eggplant recipe couldn’t be easier and does not require any special eggplant handling. Actually, the simple marinade I make, which includes couple of smokey spices, like smoked paprika, chili powder, liquid smoke and allspice, mixed with lemon juice and zest, can work well for summer squash, zucchini, or even tofu.

Grilled Eggplant
Grilled Eggplant, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Grilled Eggplant

What you’ll need:

2 large eggplants

1/2 lemon, juice and zest

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons liquid smoke

1 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoons allspice

1 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoons garlic powder

Vegetable oil

Cooking spray

What you’ll do: 

  1. In a large plastic container with a tight fitting lid, mix lemon juice and zest, soy sauce, liquid smoke and all the spices to make a pasty marinade.
  2. Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut lengthwise into 1/4 in (2.5 cm) thick slices.
  3. Place the eggplant into the marinade. Cover every piece well (use your fingers to help spread it out) and stack ghee eggplant slices. Cover with the lid and let stand for 30 to 60 minutes on the kitchen counter.
  4. Prepare your outdoor grill as you normally do. For me this means turning all the burners on high (I have a gas grill) with the lid down for 10 minutes, turning the flames down to low then using a steel brush to clean the grill grate. Finally, before placing food on the grill, I oil the grill well. I use a pair of long tongs and a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.
  5. Bring the heat up to medium. Spray each eggplant slice with a bit of cooking spray before placing on the grill. Leave it to grill on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes. Depending on how hot your grill is this may take a bit longer.
  6. Spread the leftover marinade over the top of the eggplant slices before turning over. Grill for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Take off the grill and serve. The grilled eggplant works well as a topping for couscous, rice or polenta. It also works really well in sandwiches and salads. My serving suggestion would be to wrap it in a grilled pita topped with plain hummus and sprinkled with kalamata olives.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Mushroom and Eggplant Couscous

Mushroom and Eggplant Couscous
Mushroom and Eggplant Couscous, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Sometimes you need to throw together couple of ingredients you have on hand and have the meal ready in a blink of an eye. This recipe is your one way ticket to a no fuss meal that is filling and satisfying. When it comes to easy and hands-off cooking nothing comes even remotely close to couscous. I’ve been making couscous for years and all you need to remember is to 1:2 ratio – 1 cup couscous plus 2 cups of boiling water – and to keep your lid on and your hand off.

Basically, once you pour your boiling water over the couscous and give it one gentle stir, all you need to do is put the lid on and let the couscous sit for 15-30 minutes. For best results use a fork to fluff the couscous up and that’s it – a delicious base for your meal is done!

The rest is very straightforward. The eggplant needs to be chopped into good size, 1 x 1 in (2.5 x 2.5 cm), cubes and mushrooms need to be quartered. The cooking begins with browning onions, then adding eggplant and letting it brown for a bit, adding mushrooms and sprinkling some corn starch to bind everything together, especially mushrooms that tend to release a lot of liquid. Another important thing to do is deglaze the pot as a lot of great caramelized flavor will be stuck to the bottom of your pan. Here, just a little bit of vegetable stock will help.

Mushroom and Eggplant Stew
Mushroom and Eggplant Stew, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Mushroom and Eggplant Couscous

What you’ll need:

2 medium eggplants, cubed

2 10 oz. (284g) white button mushrooms, quartered

1 yellow onion, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

2 tablespoons garlic, crushed

6 scallions, diced

3 tablespoons corn starch

1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dry thyme

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Prepare couscous according to the box instructions, usually by mixing 1 cup of couscous with 2 cups of boiling water, putting the lid on the container and letting couscous soak for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Spray the bottom and the sides of a large Dutch oven or another heavy pot with a good lid with cooking spray. Turn the heat to medium high, add diced onions and scallions and brown for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute or so, letting the garlic release its aroma.
  4. Add eggplant and let it brown which will take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the size of your pot.
  5. Lower heat to medium, and add mushrooms, corn starch and thyme. Sauté for 5-8 minutes. You want your mushrooms to be soft.
  6. Use the vegetable stock to deglaze the bottom of your pot and let everything cook for 5-10 minutes more, covered.
  7. Fluff the couscous with a fork, then plate the couscous and spread the mushroom and eggplant stew on top. Sprinkle with fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley, and enjoy!
  8. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Quinoa & Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed Eggplant

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Stuffed Eggplant with Quinoa and Cherry Tomatoes, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
One could say that I am on the stuffing kick: I stuffed some peppers, made a Mexican lasagna, which is almost like stuffing corn tortillas, and played around a zucchini moussaka. Perhaps it is time to say enough is enough and move away from stuffing, but I just can’t. Stuffed things are simply too much fun to eat and so simple to make that I can’t let go. Plus, although you may think you’ve reached the point where there’s nothing new to try, a new idea pops into your mind and you simply have to pursue it.

This happened to me the other day when I returned home from grocery shopping with two nice and plump pieces of eggplant in my bag. For me eggplant is one of those vegetables that’s neither here nor there. It’s a bit complicated to make into something great and delicious, especially if you decide not to bread it, fry it, or stuff it with a ton of cheese – Eggplant Parmesan I am looking at you!

To make eggplant ready for stuffing and minimize the amount of oil needed to almost zilch, I decided to roast it first and then stuff it. Roasting does take a bit of time, although not too much as 20-30 minutes at 425 F (220 C) usually does the trick.

stuffed-eggplant-step-0
Roasting the Eggplant is the First Step En Route to Stuffing, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Once the eggplant is out of the oven leave it to cool for 10-15 minutes. This makes it much easier to handle as you will need to scoop out the roasted eggplant flash and mix it with the rest of the stuffing. One time saving tip is to cook your quinoa while the eggplant is roasting and cooling. That way both of your key stuffing ingredients will be ready to go. The rest is easy. You need to wash and half some cherry tomatoes, and dice one red onion. Mix everything together with a bit of dried or fresh basil or oregano, freshly ground black pepper, and even some lemon or lime zest to the stuffing. Any, or all, of these work well together!

stuffed-eggplant-step-1
Stuffed Eggplant with Quinoa and Cherry Tomatoes stuffing, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Once the stuffing is back in the eggplant shells, and the cheese is sprinkled lightly over the top, the dish goes back to the 350 F (175 C) oven for another 15 minutes or so.

Bon appétite!

Quinoa and Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed Eggplant

What you’ll need:

2 eggplants, large

1 red onion, diced

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water (or vegetable stock)

1 pint (300 g) cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup vegan cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon dry basil

Black pepper, freshly ground

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash the two pieces of eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Place on the aluminum foil covered baking sheet, crosshatch the surface and spray with a cooking spray. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until the top is nicely browned. once the eggplant is out, lower the oven temperature to 350 F (180 C).
  3. While the eggplant is roasting, prepare quinoa according to the instructions on the box. I usually cook quinoa in water, but you can definitely use vegetable (vegan) stock if you’d like to add a bit extra flavor.
  4. Once quinoa is fully cooked, transfer into a large mixing bowl. Mix with diced onion and cherry tomatoes that you’ve cut in half lengthwise. Next, scoop out eggplant flash and add to the quinoa stuffing. Lastly, add basil and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
  5. Spoon a generous amount of stuffing into each eggplant half, spray the top with some cooking spray, and top with shredded cheese. Put the stuffed eggplant back into the oven until the stuffing is heated through, tomatoes cooked, and the cheese melted. This should not take more than 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve warm!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017