I love this time of year for the massive variety available at the farmers market. We are lucky to have an NYC Greenmarket in a park close by, and being able to visit every Saturday to stock up for the week is a gift. (If you don't have one near you, check out this chart to see what's in season, and look for those things at your local grocery store. Eating locally is great; eating seasonally is great, too!) Localharvest.org is also a handy resource for finding a farmers market in your area.
Anyways, this week has been an adventure in local-seasonal eating, as I've been playing with new recipes for the Vegan Month of Food. What says 'creative experimentation' better than using what nature drops in your lap and tweaking to make it (even more) delicious? It's been a lot of fun so far!
Last weekend's trip to the market yielded some delicious produce: eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, and chard - all of that color means extra awesome nutrients and vitamins making their way into your body. It will thank you. So will your tastebuds.
Inspired by OhMyVeggies' incredible skill of filling vegetables with other vegetables, I decided to use these gorgeous eggplants to create a foundation for our meal. The result? Crazy delicious "boats" that look pretty darn swanky with the schmear of white bean spread. These are the Cadillac of eggplants, the Norwegian Dreamliners of the vegetable world (and it's like those little white beans are having a party on the deck!).
Let's break it down into a few simple steps. The total cooking time includes doing a few things while your eggplant boats bake, and as long as you have all of your supplies ready to go when you begin (your mise en place, if you're of a classic cooking mind), you'll be a-okay! You'll need a blender, a preheated oven, a sharp knife, a skillet, and a stovetop. Sound a little intimidating? You've got this. You'll be rocking a multi-step preparation (and smelling the sweet smell of
kitchen success dinner) in no time!
Start with your pair of eggplants.
Halve them lengthwise. Using the edge of a spoon, carve out a cavity in the middle of each, so that you're left with a 1/3" border on all sides (including the bottom). Use a sharp knife to crosshatch the inside of each half. Chop the eggplant flesh you removed into cubes and set aside. Lay the eggplant halves onto a foil-lined baking sheet and pop into your preheated oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes. You will check in on them in a bit.
Chop your tomatoes. Try to resist the urge to eat them while you do. (I have a weakness for fresh tomatoes. They are way good.)
Combine the hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, and salt in the food processor. Blend for a couple of seconds.
Add in a portion of the white beans and blend until smooth.
From here, you'll sauté your tomatoes and eggplant together with the basil, followed by steaming your chard. When the eggplants have started to darken and you can see that the crosshatching is starting to separate, remove your eggplants from the oven.
Place each one on a plate as shown, then get ready to feel really schmancy: use a spoon to spread a dollop of your bean-nutritional yeast mixture into the center of each eggplant. Luxurious, right?
Then layer in your tomato-eggplant mixture and the remaining whole white beans. Revel in your culinary prowess. Enjoy!
[Here's the thing: I used to be terrified of the kitchen. I had no idea what to do with most kitchen tools and no idea how to combine ingredients: my greatest skill was overcooking and (occasionally) burning things to a char. Delicious. My adventure over the last several years to overhaul my health, get in touch with what I need, and really integrate healthy habits into each day has been life-changing. I'm no longer afraid of the kitchen: I love it! It's the best creative outlet I can think of, and produces some really rewarding (edible) results. Plus, dealing with multiple food sensitivities means I spend a lot more time cooking at home because it's just, well, easier. Not to mention less expensive! And I know exactly what's in everything I make. I am thrilled to be able to share what I've learned here -- and in in-person classes! Our next scheduled Vegan Gluten Free Kitchen 101 will take place in November at the West Side YMCA. Want to conquer your fear of the kitchen? You can! Check out the details here!]
Until then, roll up your sleeves, dust off those baking pans, and try this puppy out. It's super-delicious (even for the most omnivorous of family members).
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 large tomato
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 1. Preheat oven to 375F.
- 2. Cut eggplants in half, lengthwise, and use a spoon to remove the middle soft section (creating a 'boat'-like cavity in the middle of each about 1/3" thick). Reserve excess eggplant in a bowl on the side.
- 3. Place eggplant boats face up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Use a sharp knife to draw a crosshatch pattern across each (this will help absorb olive oil). Drizzle a little olive oil over each and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until flesh turns darker in color and the crosshatching starts to spread upwards.
- 4. In the meantime, chop eggplant middles and season with basil. Chop tomatoes and keep separate. Set aside.
- 5. In food processor, combine nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, salt, and 2/3 of the white beans until they form an even paste. Reserve remaining white beans.
- 6. When there is about 10 minutes left until the baking eggplant are done, heat a little additional olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sautee eggplant chunks until soft (about 4 minutes), then add tomatoes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- 7. Remove eggplant boats from oven and spread each with 1/4 of your white bean-nutritional yeast mixture.
- 8. Layer in the eggplant-tomato mixture, followed by a sprinkle of the whole white beans. Garnish with a little more basil.
- Serve with a steamed green. We like ours with Swiss chard -- so yummy!