Eggplant and Tomato Bake AKA as ‘Buba’s Eggplant’

Eggplant and Tomato Bake AKA as ‘Buba’s Eggplant’

I honestly have to say (and this is not an easy call for me to make), that of all the cookbooks and recipe e-books that I own, The Monday Morning Cooking Club is my all time favourite.  Not all the recipes are clean, but there are some great healthy meals in there.  It is a compilation of recipes contributed by eager cooks from all over – each recipe has its own story/history.  I love the fact that every recipe was hand picked from hundreds and has been quality tested time and time again by a dedicated and talented group of women devoted to the preparation and offering of delicious food.  You know that if it’s made it into the book it’s going to be good.

When I bought this cookbook, the first recipe I made was Buba’s Eggplant.  A simple yet amazingly tasty dish of baked eggplant with a rich tomato sauce.  This dish has become one of our favourites, always wins compliments and is clean and healthy.  A  great option for midweek dinner, or even a dinner party.  And freezes beautifully too.  The Shrinking Hubby loves this dish!

I have recently (with much excitement) purchased a Thermomix.  I am hesitant to post about this on here because my blog is a place to share clean and nutritional recipes and motivation for a healthier lifestyle, not promote/become about an appliance.  I have decided though (where relevant) that in future, if I have managed to alter recipes to suit the Thermomix I will just add the thermomix version as an option in addition to instructions for cooking without it.  That way everyone is happy (and nobody misses out).

This eggplant dish is wonderful with salmon or grilled barramundi, perfect with schnitzel (check out my recipe for almond crusted schnitzel here – soooo good!), roast chicken, or even by itself – makes a great dinner party starter.

Here is the recipe from The Monday Morning Cooking Club.  I have tweaked it a little.  I’ve reduced the garlic, I don’t fry the eggplant in a cup of oil, and I’ve added some chilli.  But if you are feeding kids, or aren’t partial to a bit of heat then leave the chilli out.

Buba’s Eggplant (from the Monday Morning Cooking Club)

What you will need:

2 large eggplants

Olive oil

A bunch of fresh basil

Buffalo Mozzarella or parmesan cheese (optional)

Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes or 1 fresh red chilli finely diced

1 small onion finely diced

4 cloves garlic crushed

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 X 400g tins tomato paste

How to pull it together:

Slice the eggplant into rounds.  Lay the slices on baking paper and salt with celtic sea salt.  Let sit for 10 minutes until it is weeping, then wipe off moisture with a paper towel.

 

Lay the wiped eggplant on a lined baking tray, use a pastry brush to coat with olive oil (or you can dry bake without oil if you would prefer – it doesn’t really matter) and bake for 30 minutes.

salting-eggplant

For the sauce:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan/pot.  Add the onion and garlic and chilli and cook for 5 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and let simmer for 30 minutes (a rich sauce will form).  Check the seasoning for taste and set aside.

When the eggplant is ready, assemble the dish by layering as follows.  Spoon 1/3 of tomato sauce into baking dish, add a single layer of eggplant, and repeat until all ingredients used.  Make sure you finish with a scant layer of tomato sauce.

(If using) scatter some torn basil leaves and/or torn buffalo mozzarella or a sprinkling of parmesan.

buba-uncooked

Bake for 45 minutes or until a crust as formed.

Thermomix version:

Slice the eggplant into rounds.  Lay the slices on baking paper and salt with celtic sea salt.  Let sit for 10 minutes until it is weeping, then wipe off moisture with a paper towel.

Lay the wiped eggplant on a lined baking tray, use a pastry brush to coat with olive oil, and bake for 30 minutes.

For the sauce:

1.  Put 2 dried chillies, 1 onion and 4 cloves garlic into the thermomix.  Blend 5 seconds, Speed 7.

2.  Add 60 ml olive oil and saute 100 degrees, 4 minutes, speed 1.

3.  Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste (30 grams).  Cook 90 degrees, 2 minutes, speed 1.

4.  Add 2 tins organic tomatoes (400 grams each).  Cook 100 degrees, 30 minutes, speed 1.

When the eggplant is ready, assemble the dish by layering as follows.  Spoon 1/3 of tomato sauce into baking dish, add a single layer of eggplant, and repeat until all ingredients used.  Make sure you finish with a scant layer of tomato sauce.

(If using) scatter some torn basil leaves and/or torn buffalo mozzarella or a sprinkling of parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a crust as formed.

Cinnamon and Coconut Pumpkin Soup

Cinnamon and Coconut Pumpkin Soup

We have really been getting some cold weather lately here in Sydney (obviously not as cold as many other parts of the world!), but cold enough to make me crave warm and hearty meals.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of comfort eating at this time of year as the body craves nourishment (and thoughts of bikinis and skimpy clothes are far away as we rug up with our coats, boots and scarves).

Soups are a great winter food because they are highly nutritious and comforting yet despite being relatively low in calories they can be very filling so you won’t feel any deprivation.  And although I don’t subscribe to the calorie counting approach, as I do not believe all calories are created equally, it is important to watch portion sizes for obvious reasons.

I find that cooking a big pot of delicious soup at the beginning of the week is a great way to sort out dinners or lunches for work or home, and so easy to freeze in portion sizes, reheat and serve.  I prefer not to heat up my soup in the microwave (I actually prefer not to use the microwave at all unless really necessary), but if I have to I never heat it up in plastic.  There has been so much research to show that chemicals from plastic leech into our food when heated – and let’s face it we get enough nasty chemical exposure as it is!  Rant over!

Now for my absolutely delicious Cinnamon and Coconut Pumpkin Soup.

I am fairly liberal with the quantities here, so feel free to experiment with your tastes.  Coconut milk/cream can be quite rich so be careful not to overdo it.  The cinnamon here gives the soup a delicous sweetness which will make it hard for you not to lick your plates!

Also – you can also roast the pumpkin a day or 2 before to make it quicker for you to prepare (but be warned – it won’t last long on it’s own in the fridge!!)

Note – if you own a Thermomix, I have included the Thermomix method below – enjoy!

Cinnamon and Coconut Pumpkin Soup

What you will need:

1/2 jap pumpkin or butternut pumpkin.  I used a large jap pumpkin from my sister’s garden (love fresh produce!) and chopped it in half.

1 large or 2 small onions roughly chopped

Coconut oil

Cinnamon

About 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock, or vegetable stock (if you want to keep this vegan), or water would be fine too – the flavours are very rich!  Here is a link to my easy slow cooker chicken stock here.

About 1/2 can of coconut milk/cream (full fat organic if possible).  You may not wish to add as much as this – it depends on the amount of soup etc – so perhaps add according to taste.

Sea salt and cracked pepper

Chives to serve

How to pull it together:

Chop up the pumpkin into fairly even sized cubes and place on baking paper in a roasting tray.  Sprinkle with cinnamon, sea salt and pepper.  You can spritz with a bit of olive oil (but please don’t use those aerosol cans – they are so bad for you!) and bake in a 180 degree Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) oven for about 40 minutes or until roasted through.

When the pumpkin is cooked or you are ready to make the soup, heat about 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large soup pot or saucepan and sauté the onion with a sprinkle of salt (to stop it from burning) until transparent.  Add the roasted pumpkin and toss through until well coated.  Add the stock or water until the pumpkin and onion are covered and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Allow to cool until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, blitz the soup with a hand held blender or in a food processor.  Bring back onto the heat and add the coconut milk/cream stirring until well combined.  Serve with a sprinkle of chives.

If Using A Thermomix:

Add the onion to the mixing bowl and chop speed 5 for 5 seconds.

Add the butter or coconut oil and saute for 3 minutes, 100 degrees, speed 2.

Add the baked pumpkin and broth or stock to cover.  Cook for 20 minutes, 100 degrees, speed 1.

Add coconut milk and blitz speed 9 for 1 minute.

Season to taste and serve sprinkled with chives.

 

Hmmmm enjoy X

 

Quinoa, Kale and Haloumi Salad

Quinoa, Kale and Haloumi Salad

I really don’t need to say much about this recipe – the simplicity of these amazing and nutritious ingredients really speak for themselves.  It’s a great one to serve at a BBQ or to make up at the beginning of the week for lunches.  It’s seriously tasty!

Quinoa, Kale and Haloumi Salad – serves 4

What you will need:

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa – I have used both white and red with this recipe  – it depends what kind of mood you’re in really …

1/2 – 1 bag of baby kale

500 grams haloumi (thinly sliced)

1/2 cup flat parsley leaves (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet, smokey paprika
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a jar shake up the lemon juice,  paprika and olive oil with some sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.  (you may wish to play around with this according to your taste)

How to pull it together:

Cook up your quinoa by bringing 1 1/2 cups of quinoa and 3 cups of water to a boil.  Once boiling turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes.  To add flavour you could add some lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.  You might also like to cook your quinoa in chicken stock rather than water – I haven’t tried this but it sounds delicious!

While the quinoa is cooking, brush the haloumi with a little olive oil and cook in a hot pan until golden.

Once the quinoa is cooked, toss through the baby kale and parsley with the dressing until well combined.  Top with the golden slices of haloumi and serve.

Enjoy!

 

Everything Tastes Better With A Dollop Of Pesto!

Everything Tastes Better With A Dollop Of Pesto!

I LOVE the smell of fresh basil – it sends my taste buds and endorphins crazy!  I also love whipping up a batch of homemade pesto – not only because it is super quick and easy, but it tastes delicious and adds zest and oomph to anything, it is super healthy, and when you make your own you can make sure you know what goes into it.  (Most commercial pestos use harmful vegetable oils rather than olive oil.)  So now I make my own!

Pesto is great as a dip with carrot sticks, spread over some salmon fillets (check out this yummy recipe here), in a mountain bread toasted wrap with some poached chicken or smoked salmon, tossed through zucchini pasta as a meal or salad (see how to make zuccini pasta here), mixed with some olive oil and vinegar for a zesty salad dressing, tossed through roast veggies or added to some scrambled eggs for a twist – there is just so much you can do!

Here is my simple recipe.  Feel free to play around with the quantities (the quantities here are really only a guide – the amount of basil for example might vary according to the size of the bunch etc (I tend to use as much as I have)…  You might also wish to experiment with the ingredients.  I love a lemony zesty flavour but the lemon isn’t a necessity here.  Also you might want to add some chilli (flakes or fresh) or play with the greens (think coriander, parsley, etc) or the nuts (think cashews, walnuts, pistacchios, macadamias) or even the cheese (think fetta, goats cheese, gruyere – oh yum!).

PS – I have added a Thermomix version below for those wanting to use their Thermomix or Bellini …

Basil Pesto

What you will need:

1/4 cup pine nuts dry roasted (you can do this in the oven on some baking paper or in a non-oiled pan on the stove – keep an eye on them – they can burn quickly!)

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves

2 small garlic cloves (or 2 teaspoons good quality organic minced garlic)

3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

How to pull it together:

Place the pine nuts, basil, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Gradually add the olive oil while the motor is running in a thin stream until well combined.

pestoprocessor

If using a Thermomix:

Put an approximately  65 gram (2 ounce) chunk of Parmesan into the mixing bowl and blitz, speed 10 for about 8 seconds or until evenly grated.

Add the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix speed 6 for about 3 seconds or until it reaches your preferred consistency.

You will end up with a deliciously chunky pesto.

thermomixpesto-300x300

Notes and tips:

You can freeze the pesto for up to 4 months in an airtight container.  (You could also freeze in a seal-able ice cube tray for easy portion sizing.)

Drizzle with a little olive oil to cover.  To thaw, place in the fridge for 3-4 hours, stir to combine and serve.

Enjoy (and if you haven’t already don’t forget to head over to my facebook page and LIKE it!  You can also follow me on instagram @theshrinkinghubby xx

Super Tasty and Healthy Sang Choy Bow

Super Tasty and Healthy Sang Choy Bow

This is one of our favourite mid-week staples.  It is quick to make, easy to double and freeze (usually get about 4 dinners from 1 quantity), tastes delicious and is really light – so is a great dinner to have if you feel you have been over indulging lately.  I have tried to measure the ingredients so that you won’t have to think too much, however due to the nature of the dish (i.e. throw whatever you can in) you may wish to play around with the flavours to suit your own tastes.   If we feel that there is not enough left over for dinner for both of us a second time I have been known to freeze what’s left and when reheating I add a can of organic lentils (well rinsed) to bulk it up.

I have also made this as a vegetarian meal with minced tofu rather than chicken.  I boil some organic firm tofu cubes for 2 minutes in a pot of boiling water then drain well and blitz in the food processor.  It becomes a similar consistency to minced meat …)

The cashews add a delicious crunch to this dish that the not so healthy versions might get from fried noodles …  Trust me – it is seriously tasty!

Healthy Chicken Sang Choy Bow – serves 4

What you will need: (again note that these quantities are all approximate and can easily be adjusted to suit your tastes or what you have on hand)

Coconut Oil

Aprox 500 grams (1 pound) organic/free range chicken mince (I use  a packet of Macro Free Range chicken mince from Woolworths)

5 Shallots or 1 onion or 1 Leek – chopped

1 chilli chopped finely (with or without seeds depending on how you like your heat)

1 clove garlic or 1 teaspoon organic minced garlic

2 carrots peeled and finely chopped

2 zucchinis (courgettes) finely chopped

2 sticks celery finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/2 bag of bean sprouts (optional) and/or 1/2 – 1 Bag of baby spinach leaves

3/4 cups cashews dry roasted

1 iceberg lettuce

Marinade: (shake in a jar or whisk in a bowl)

1 Tablespoon Kecap Manis

1 Tablespoon Tamari

2 Tablespoon Spiral Miso Hoisin (or organic Hoisin)

1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil

If you would prefer to make this dish completely clean, rather than using the kecap manis and hoisin, you could create a marinade from tamari, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and salt and pepper – have fun experimenting!

How to pull it together:

Heat a large pan/wok and add about 1 tablespoon coconut oil.  When heated add onion/leek/shallots and chilli with garlic and cook until translucent.  Add the remaining veggies (except for spinach and bean sprouts) and chicken and mix well until the chicken is browned.   Add the marinade ingredients and cook well.  (You can do all of this earlier and reheat before serving)

To serve:

Cut the iceberg lettuce into little cups.

Toss the roasted cashews, baby spinach and/or bean sprouts through your chicken mix and reheat until the spinach is wilted and the dish is nice and hot and then spoon into the lettuce cups and enjoy XX

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