Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grilled Eggplant with Roasted Vegetables and Shiitake Mushrooms, Tomato Lavender Sauce, and Kamut-Pine Nut Salad

I've been trying to do an elaborate meal once a week just for fun and to experiment with ingredients that I would not normally buy. Although I must say that I have no idea where to purchase lavender, other than at a plant nursery. So I did not add it to my tomato sauce but it tasted great even though it didn't have its signature ingredient.

The kamut was something I've never heard and thought I would have a hard time finding, but found it easily at Whole Foods's bulk section. I found out that kamut is an ancient grain and originated from Egypt. It's actually very healthy and is loaded in protein, calcium and iron.

I am discovering that I really like dressing up plates and I am learning a lot each time I do. The only thing I am lacking is a nice squared, white plate. I must remember to purchase one next time I am at a kitchen store.

Serves 4

Tomato Lavender Sauce
* 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
* 2 leeks, white part only, cut into small dice
* 1/2 cup white wine or vegetable stock
* 4 to 6 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
* 1 cup vegetable stock
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp pepper
* 1 tsp minced fresh lavender

Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream
* 1/2 cup Oil Braised Garlic ( Recipe Below )
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/3 cup cashews
* 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
* 1 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
* 1/2 tsp salt, plus more as needed
* 2 tsp fresh minced herbs ( such as thyme, dill, tarragon, basil, parsley, optional)

Kamut-Pine Nut Salad
* 2/3 cup dried kamut
* 6 cups water
* 1/4 tsp salt, plus more as needed
* 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
* 2 scallions, white and green parts only, minced
* 1 cup cucumber, seeded and diced
* 2 Tb chopped fresh parsley
* 2 Tb basil chiffonade
* Juice of 1 lemon
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 up roasted garlic cashew cream ( Recipe Below )

Roasted Vegetables and Shiitake Mushrooms
* 2 green zucchini, cut into small dice
* Kernals from 2 ears corn
* 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
* 1 red bell pepper, cut into small dice
* 1 leek, white part only, cut into small dice
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tsp fresh thyme or lemon thyme
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grilled Eggplant
* 2 to 3 globe eggplants, about 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 Tb balsamic vinegar
* 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tsp minced rosemary, oregano, or savory
* 1/2 tsp salt

To Make the Sauce
1. Heat a deep skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the leeks and cook for 15 minutes, or until soft. Add the white white, tomatoes, and stock. Partially cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are very soft. Add the salt and pepper.

2. Remove from the heat and let cool to close to room temperature. Puree the mixture in batches until the sauce is smooth. Return to saucepan. Add the lavender and stir to mix.

To Make the Oil-Braised Garlic
* 2 large bulbs garlic, whole cloves peeled
* 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1 small rosemary spring

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the garlic, oil, and rosemary in a crock or small deep baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the garlic cloves are very soft and just starting to brown. ( Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks. )

To Make the Cream
1. Combine the roasted garlic, minced garlic, cashew, yeast, 3/4 cup water, and the salt in a blender. Blend until a smooth, thick paste forms or until the mixture binds up. With the blender still running, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup water, using more if needed, until the consistency is that of heavy cream. Stir in the herbs. Add salt to taste.

To Make the Salad
Place a saucepan over high heat and add the kamut, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the kamut is cooked throughly and is still al dente. Drain and let cool. Place in a mixing bowl with the pine nuts, scallions, cucumber, parsley, basil, lemon juice, pepper, and cashew cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To Make the Vegetables
Preheat the broiler or the oven to 450 F. Place the zucchini, corn, mushrooms, pimiento, leeks, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Toss with the olive oil and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place on a baking sheet. Roast or broil, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from the heat.

To Make the Eggplant
1. Preheat the grill or broiler. Slice the eggplant into 8 1/2 inch to 2/3 inch rounds. Pat the sides with salt and cook for 15 minutes.

2. Place the salted eggplant on a baking sheet or perforated pan. With a paper towel, wipe the salt off and blot any accumulated moisture from the eggplants.

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, Zinfandel, olive oil, rosemary and salt. Brush onto the eggplant slices. Grill or broil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until the eggplant is cooked yet firm. Keep warm.

To Serve
Ladle 6 Tb of the tomato sauce around the bottom of each plate. In the center of the plate, mound 1/2 cup of the kamut salad. Place 1 slice of the eggplant on top of the salad. Place about 2/3 cup of the roasted vegetables on top of the eggplant slice. Place another eggplant slice on top of the roasted vegetables. Drizzle 2 Tb of the roasted garlic cashew cream around the plate and eggplant.

Nutritional Information
Per Serving Grilled Eggplant : 240 calories, 6g protein, 40g carbohydrate, 10g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 390mg sodium, 9g fiber

Per 6 Tb Sauce : 33 calories, 0.6g protein, 4.3g carbohydrate, 1g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 86mg sodium, 0.8g fiber

Per 1/2 Cup Salad : 168 calories, 6.6g protein, 26g carbohydrate, 5.8g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 135mg sodium, 0.2g fiber

Per Tb Cream : 36 calories, 0.6g protein, 1.9g carbohydrate, 3.2g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 41mg sodium, 0.2g fiber

Per 2/3 Cup Vegetables and Mushrooms : 160 calories, 5.1g protein, 34g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 13mg sodium, 6,5g fiber

ancient grain, baking, roast, salad


  1. ummm, an eggplant tower, that speaks to me :)

  2. The photo isn't showing up for me but it sounds delicious!

    And I too enjoy plating up dishes and it's fune to go to homewares stores and buy new plates!

  3. Frosty - It does to me too : ]

    Mandee - It isn't?! How weird. I haven't bought plates in awhile but I do love them..they really help to complete a meal's look

  4. What a beautiful, beautiful picture! I think that's a great goal to make one gourmet meal a week. It would be lost on my family, though, who would scarf it down in five minutes. I try to make the table elegant, at least, for Sunday night dinners. You did a fabulous job with this recipe!

  5. That is a beautiful picture of wonderful looking food. Nice job!

  6. Blessedmama - haha its the same way here. My boyfriend will say "ooo pretty" and then finish it while watching TV. I do it for me though, only problem is I am still hungry after eating such an elegant meal..just like when I go to fancy restaurants.
    I've been wanting to dress up the table. I think its great that you try to do it every Sunday. Meals should be special!

    Kim - Thank you : ]

  7. Lavender tomato sauce is something I need to try. Good call.

  8. Beautiful presentation.. the food looks amazing!! Every element of this dish sounds delicious, especially the cashew cream and the grilled eggplant!! YUM!!

  9. that is some fantasy presentation miss

  10. Very impressive plating, and man, what a dish! Some really complex and creative flavors going on... I like it!

  11. How on earth did I miss this?!