stuffedeggplant1

I think one of the best things about having a recipe blog is being able to participate in food-related community blogging events. So when I read about Foodie Fights, an online cooking challenge in which you “compete” against six other bloggers, I was intrigued and sent in my blog’s name for consideration.

I was quite surprised and fairly nervous, though, when I got an email a few days later informing me that my blog had been chosen to participate in a Foodie Fight this week…

Each Foodie Fight features a different pair of “mystery ingredients”. This week’s challenge was to use eggplant and white wine together in a recipe. After LOTS of internal deliberation about what I would make, I came up with a healthy and delicious vegetarian stuffed eggplant (to see what my competitors made, and to vote for the best eggplant and white wine recipe, please go to the bottom of this post!)

The vegetarian stuffing is made from diced garlic, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, red peppers and Swiss chard sautéed in olive oil, butter, and white wine. To increase the protein content, I added cooked quinoa and toasted pumpkin seeds, as well as a mixture of egg, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and parmesan cheese (these also act as a binder).

My stuffing does not contain any breadcrumbs, so it is low-carb and gluten-free (though if you are vegan and don’t want to use the eggs or cheese, you may actually want to throw some in to give the stuffing a bit more texture and to help everything “stick together”).

redquinoaQuinoa is a gluten-free, high protein seed.

I found the “red quinoa” you see on the left in the bulk section of my local natural foods store, but you could certainly use regular quinoa instead.

You could also use brown rice or any other cooked whole grain like buckwheat, barley, or millet (buckwheat and barley do contain gluten, though).

Quinoa must be rinsed very thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer before cooking, as the seeds have a natural coating on them that tastes bitter if not removed. I usually cook mine in a rice cooker, but you can also cook quinoa in a pot on top of the stove; 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water will yield about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.

stripedeggplant


Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant Recipe

Ingredients (choose organic whenever possible):
1 medium sized eggplant (I found the lovely organic heirloom eggplant above at Whole Foods; you don’t have to use a special eggplant, though, as you don’t really see the stripes once the eggplant is baked off)
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 Tb. organic butter, divided
1 Tb. olive oil
3 Tb. peeled and minced garlic
1/2 onion, diced
4 ounces mushrooms (this is about 2 1/2- 3 cups of cleaned and chopped mushrooms and you can use any variety, or a mix; I used a “gourmet mushroom mix” of baby bellas, shiitakes, and chanterelles)
3 Tb. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 red pepper, diced
4 large leaves of swiss chard, stems trimmed off and chopped (if unavailable, choose any other dark leafy green)
1/2 tsp. Himalayan or sea salt
1 egg, preferably organic and free-range
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (regular or low-fat)
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/2 parmesan cheese
1 cup pumpkin seeds
3 Tb. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice off the top of the eggplant and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the eggplant pulp so that the “shell” is about 1/4 inch thick.

Dice the eggplant pulp and set aside. Choose a baking dish that will accommodate your stuffed eggplant halves and rub it with olive oil.

In a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy sauté pan, heat the 1 Tb. of olive oil and 1 Tb. of butter. Add the garlic and allow it to brown in the pan for a minute or so. Add the onion and sauté with the garlic for a minute or two more.

Add another 1 Tb. of the butter and allow it to melt a bit. Add the mushrooms and stir around so they absorb some of the butter, and then add the rosemary, the diced eggplant, and the white wine. Increase the heat a bit and allow to simmer until all the wine is cooked off.

sauteedmushrooms

Add the diced red pepper and the chard and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally and adding a bit of water or olive oil to the pan if it is too dry, for a few more minutes. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and remove from the heat to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the egg with the Greek yogurt, the cottage cheese, and the parmesan cheese. Add the cooked quinoa and the cooled sautéed vegetables. Mix well.

pumpkinseedsWipe your skillet clean and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds around the pan.

Toast over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until the seeds “pop” and turn golden brown (watch carefully and stir around frequently so they don’t burn).

Mix the toasted pumpkin seeds into the stuffing mixture. Take your hollowed eggplant halves and fill them with the stuffing.

filledeggplant

Place in your baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, uncover and bake for another 25 minutes, then sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and bake for a final 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. Garnish with the finely chopped fresh parsley.

stuffedeggplant2

One stuffed eggplant half makes a hearty vegetarian meal for one pretty hungry person, or you can slice each half into pieces and have smaller servings for more people. You will have stuffing mixture leftover, and this can be used to stuff an additional medium-large eggplant, or you can use it to stuff peppers, zucchinis, etc! These are delicious as cold leftovers, too…

Here are the blog posts I am competing against…make sure to check them all out before you cast your vote!

Cookin’ Canuck
My BF Likes it, So It Must Be Good
Om-nom-nomnivore (LazySumo)
Peanut Butter & Jenny
Prix Fixe

borage1

After I prepared the zucchini for the raw vegetable sesame noodles, I wanted to play with my spiral slicer some more! So I made a simple cucumber salad with borage flowers.

Borage is a plant I grow in my herb spiral, as well as mixed in with my vegetable plantings. It is said to be a useful companion plant for tomatoes and cucumbers. I love looking at and eating the gorgeous blue flowers; the leaves are edible, as well.

It’s been a great year for cucumbers in my garden because of all the rain we’ve had. For this salad, which fed just one person (me!), I picked a beautiful cucumber and easily created a pretty ribbon out of it with the spiralizer tool.

spiralizedcuke

If you don’t have a garden, choose the nicest medium-large cucumber that you can find (and if you’d like to make a bigger salad, you’ll need more cucumbers). If your cucumber(s) is/are not organic, go ahead and peel it/them.

In addition to the cucumber(s), you will need:

coarse sea salt
rice vinegar
toasted sesame oil–optional
borage flowers (if you don’t have these, you can garnish with another edible flower or use chopped fresh herbs or toasted sesame seeds instead)

Among its many medicinal uses, borage has a reputation of helping with skin complaints, hormonal imbalance, and anxiety/depression.

borage2

Because cucumber contains so much water, you will want to drain the spiraled cucumber after you slice it. Use a colander over the sink and/or pat it dry with a kitchen towel. And once your cucumber ribbon is not so wet, you can I cut into it a bit to make the salad easier to eat.

spiralcukes2

To compile the salad, place your cucumber in a small bowl or on a plate. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt (not too much, or you’ll end up with a lot of liquid pooling under your salad) and drizzle with rice vinegar and a bit of toasted sesame oil, if desired. Garnish with your borage flowers. Serves 1.

cucumberboragesalad

WHB3-1This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, an event managed by Haalo from Cook Almost Anything. Haalo is also this week’s host!

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved Chinese Sesame Noodles. I haven’t had them in quite some time (they are not very good for you!), so when I saw this recipe for a raw vegan version, I was really excited!

sesamenoodles

{Photo used with permission from Living Raw Food: Get the Glow with More Recipes from Pure Food and Wine}

I’m pretty sure that if you are a raw foodie, if you stay away from wheat or gluten, if you like to eat a lower carb diet, or if you’re just looking to add to your repertoire of recipes for healthy food, you’re going to love this raw foods sesame noodles alternative. The recipe comes from this month’s featured book: Living Raw Food: Get the Glow with More Recipes from Pure Food and Wine by Sarma Melngailis.

Before I go on, let me remind you that I’m giving away a signed copy of the book. All you have to do to enter is mention the giveaway on your blog (if you have one), or post about it on facebook or twitter.

Remember to come back and leave a comment on the blog letting me know about your entry so I’ll have your email address and can notify you if you win! Entries must be received by midnight of July 31st, 2009.

For this recipe, Sarma states in the book that “most sliceable vegetables taste great with the dressing…substitute or add julienned yellow summer squash, jicama, cucumber, thinly sliced snow peas, or napa cabbage. If you like seaweed, add soaked, rinsed, and drained arame or hijiki. For sweetness, add thinly sliced mango, or for richness, sliced avocado. Basil or mint chiffonade, or both, are also nice additions.” She also says you can just use zucchini (which is what I did, along with cilantro, green onions, and a little shredded kale).

Sesame-Mixed Vegetable "Noodles" with Herbs

Yield: 8-10 servings

Many of the veggies here are supposed to be prepared with a very sharp cutting tool called a mandoline. I do have one, but I couldn't find it when I went to make the recipe, so I used a spiral slicer to make the zucchini pasta instead (see photo below). I highly recommend the spiralizer- it is super easy, very safe, and allows you to easily make veggies like zucchini into "spaghetti"- how cool is that?!

Ingredients:

Sesame Dressing:

*1 cup sesame tahini
*1/4 cup sesame oil
*1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
*1/4 cup mellow red miso
*3/4 cup plus 2 Tb. filtered water
*1/4 cup black sesame seeds

Vegetables:

*4 cups daikon radish, julienned on a mandoline
*2 red bed peppers, cored and julienned
*3 medium zucchini, julienned on a mandoline
*3 medium carrots, cored and julienned on a mandoline
*6 baby bok choy, leaves thinly sliced on a bias
*3 scallions, whites and about an inch of the green, thinly sliced
*1 big handful cilantro leaves
*Sea salt

Directions:

Sesame Dressing:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini, sesame oil, lemon juice, miso, and 1/4 cup of the water.

2. Add the remaining ingredients a bit at a time and continue whisking until smooth. Stir in the sesame seeds and set aside.

Vegetables:

In a large bowl, toss all prepared vegetables and the sesame dressing until evenly coated. Season to taste with sea salt.

p.s. Thanks again to Sarma Melngailis for generously donating a signed copy of the book for the giveaway, and for letting me use the gorgeous picture at the top of this post!