Sunday, September 30, 2012

fairytale eggplant pizza

i couldn't resist buying these miniature striped eggplants at the market, and their adorable name doesn't hurt. these young eggplant are tender, not bitter and are lovely sauted in a little garlic and olive oil as a side to your meal. or, you can take it a step further and make this delicious recipe for fairytale eggplant pizza.

whip up a batch of your favorite recipe for pizza dough  (in a pinch, try this recipe with 2 cups whole wheat flour subbed for part of the bread flour) or set out your favorite store brand.

slice them in half lengthwise, and cut into thin strips.

heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat, add cut up eggplant, and salt and pepper to your taste.

when the eggplant starts to brown and change to a silkier texture, take it off the heat. you can set them aside to cool while you ready the rest of your pizza.

roll, or press out your pizza dough into a roughly 10-12" circle. i just used my fingers to slowly stretch the dough out into its shape, leaving a little extra around the edge for a nice crust. transfer the crust to a generously oiled baking sheet.

drizzle the crust with olive oil, and start to pile on your toppings:

i started with heirloom tomatoes.

then i layered on the sauted eggplant. topped off with fresh mozzarella cheese, blotted with a paper towel to remove some moisture.

bake in the oven until the crust is lightly browned on the bottom, about 25 minutes. let cool slightly until the toppings set, and scatter thinly sliced basil on the top of your pizza.

slice and eat!

fairytale eggplant pizza with heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil
serves 2-3 per pizza, makes 2 - 10" pizzas


1 batch pizza dough, try this recipe with half whole wheat flour

4 fairytale eggplants, sliced thinly
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced thinly
5 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced and blotted with paper towel
2 tbsp basil, chiffonade
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan or romano cheese

more olive oil for greasing pan
salt and pepper to taste


1.   preheat oven to 450 degrees F. press out half of your pizza dough into a 10"-11" circle.  drizzle a baking sheet generously with olive oil, and transfer your crust to the pan. repeat with the second half. drizzle your circles lightly with olive oil.

2.   layer on the heirloom tomato slices, then the eggplant slices, then the mozzarella cheese. bake the pizzas until the crust lightly browns on the bottom, and the  cheese is fully melted, about 20 minutes.

3.   let the pizza rest and cool slightly for 5-10 minutes. when the toppings and cheese have set, transfer to a cutting board. scatter the basil over the top, and if desired the grated parmesan/romano. slice and enjoy!


be sure to let your mozzarella slices rest on paper towels and blot the excess moisture from them. otherwise, your pizza may be a bit watery. if your tomato is extra juicy, you can blot the slices as well!

regular eggplant works just as well in this recipe, if you can't find the fairytale version.

i froze one of the pizzas for a later date, and it was just as delicious, reheated in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. perfect for a busy weeknight!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

beet and berry smoothie

today i am reintroducing beets, but in a very different type of recipe. if you missed the beet and arugula salad, check it out while arugula is still at the markets. this new recipe today is for a smoothie with beets, using their earthy flavor to tone down the sweetness and make for a refreshing drink. the beets don't take a dominating role here, it just enhances the taste of the berries. if you really like beets you can certainly amp the amount up to your liking.

for this recipe, i steamed the beets instead of boiling them. either method is good, but i found steaming them makes the process a little less messy.

start by scrubbing the beets well and trimming off the ends, so they no longer have a dirty exterior. cut them in half (or more pieces if you have large beets) and place them in your steamer tray. let them steam for 20 minutes or until you can pierce them easily with a fork.

a good tip for making smoothies is to overbuy berries when they are at their peak, and thus cheapest at the market. i lay them out on a baking sheet and freeze them for maybe 15-30 minutes. once they are cold and getting hard, you can dump them all in a tupperware for easier storage. pre-freezing them on a sheet means when you go to use them, they won't stick together into one big frozen clump as they would if you just put them in the tupperware first thing.

you'll start with just a 1/4 cup of chopped beets. add it to the blender with the apple juice and frozen mixed berries. add in about a handful of ice (about 4 cubes for me) and you are ready to blend!

Blend for a few minutes, pausing occasionally to stir with a long spoon (with blender off) if necessary to get your blender going.

heres the before and after:

Pour it into a glass and you are ready to serve!

If you are in the mood for a creamier smoothie, you can add a tablespoon or two of plain greek yogurt. It makes for a slightly lighter color (on the left in the picture below).

beet and berry smoothie
makes about 2 cups

1/4 cup chopped, steamed beets
1 cup frozen strawberries
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup apple juice or apple cider (i used a fresh one from the farmers market)
handful of ice (about 4 cubes)
1-2 tbsp plain greek yogurt (optional)


1.   to steam the beets, scrub thoroughly until clean and cut into halves, or quarters if you are using large beets. place in a steamer tray in a large pot with about an inch of simmering water and let steam for 20-25 minutes, until beets are tender. remove from pot and let cool.

2.   combine 1/4 cup beets with the rest of the ingredients in a blender, and blend until no lumps or chunks of frozen fruit remain. pour into a glass to serve.

notes: i recommend using a cold pressed apple juice or apple cider, the kind you would find either at a farmer's market, or in the supermarket with a label from a nearby orchard. if you aren't in an area with local apple juice, 100% apple juice

Sunday, September 2, 2012

stuffed zucchini

zucchini is one of my favorite summertime vegetables, because its mild flavor is perfect for so many cooking methods and variations. my feelings on zucchini changed after i tried it prepared in countless new ways in italy. i learned that fresh, simple flavors are all that is needed to make the somewhat bland flavor of zucchini sing. this recipe for stuffed zucchini with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella uses classic italian flavors and is a wonderful addition to a summer meal.

start by cutting the end off of two small to medium zucchini. slice them in half lengthwise.

once your zucchini are halved, it is time to make room for tomatoes. using a pointy spoon, gently scrape out some of the seeds. don't worry about getting all of the seeds out because the purpose is just to make some room to stuff them.

once your zucchini are hollowed out, you can drizzle them with olive oil, and place them on a foil lined baking sheet. season the zucchini with salt and pepper before you stuff them.

dice up the tomatoes into small enough pieces that they will fit in the zucchini.

mix them with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and salt and pepper them to your taste.

mix in the chopped basil, and divide the tomato mixture evenly between the four zucchini halves.

bake for 20 minutes until the zucchini is tender, and you can easily pierce it with a fork.

remove the baked zucchini from the oven, and turn your oven to the broil setting. place two thin slices of fresh mozzarella on each zucchini half.

place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the cheese melts. watch carefully! they can burn very quickly (ask me how i know).

take them out when the cheese is melted and lightly browned. serve immediately, while hot.

stuffed zucchini with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella 

recipe source: Martha Stewart
serves 4


2 medium sized zucchini

2 roma tomatoes
2 tsp chopped basil
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

extra olive oil for drizzling

2 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced


1. preheat oven to 400 degrees F. slice the ends of the zucchini and cut them in half lengthwise. scrape out some of the seeds to create a space to put the stuffin. place them cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet that has been brushed with olive oil. sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle the halves with olive oil.

2. dice the tomato into small pieces. combine the diced tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. add in the chopped basil, and mix together. divide mixture among the 4 hollowed out zucchini halves.

3. bake zucchini for 20 minutes, until the zucchini can be pierced with a fork pretty easily. take them out of the oven, and change your oven setting to broil. top with thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and place under the broiler for 1 minute or so, until the cheese melts and lightly browns. serve immediately.

  • use a fresh mozzarella log that is wrapped dry, if possible. if you are using fresh mozzarella that is stored in water, drain the slices on a paper towel first.
  • if your zucchini do not lay cut side up without wobbling, cut a small slice off the rounded bottom (see pic below). this creates a flat surface for the zucchini to sit on. be careful not to cut a big slice, so it remains thick enough when you hollow it out.