Other than the fact the holiday's over, the second worse thing about the post vacation blues is getting rid of the excess weight. Too many full meal deal breakfasts and lots of dinners out never mind afternoon "beer thirty" all combined with the fact our little Rose Cottage was exactly midway between two local workout spots, one 9 miles north and the other about 9 miles south of us meant we had a built in excuse NOT to join a gym and exercise this year. Consequently the next month or more we'll be working on whittling the additional pounds off our 55 year old plus bodies.
What it means for us is regular exercise, a relatively healthy diet, smaller portions and no alcohol; however, since this is a food blog I figured none of you would be too impressed if I told ya we were joining "Jenny", so here's the first of our "moderate" dinners.
Just because you're watching the old calories doesn't mean food has to be plain, boring or tasteless. I mean Rome wasn't built in a day and the pounds didn't come on overnight although they sure as heck pile on a lot faster than they disappear.
Anyway, I'm not saying this salad is totally without calories, but it is filled with roasted eggplant, assorted peppers, and dressed lightly with a touch of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Now personally, I would be satisfied to have eaten it as a stand alone item but you know who wouldn't think of coming home to such an obvious vegetarian meal, so to prevent Big Guy from hitting the burger joint on the way home for an appetizer, I fashioned this Italian burger sans the carb loaded bread. Simply extra lean ground beef along with chicken sweet Italian sausage and extra spices, I topped the burger with a sundried tomato, a couple of fresh mozzarella pearls and a hot pepper.
It's a flavorful meal that'll transport you to the sunny shores of Sicily and perfect for this time of year when peppers are plentiful and inexpensive and the eggplant's fresh too. The salad's great leftover too - on a sandwich, or crustini or even in an omelet. Add a few olives and a touch more cheese and you'll have all the bases covered for a superb lunch to take to work too.
Incidentally, I roasted the vegetables under the broiler because it's too uncomfortable outside to use the barbecue, but feel free to use your outdoor grill if you wish.
Warm Roasted Eggplant Salad with Bell Peppers and Tomatoes (from JBug’s Kitchen adapted from Idaho a la Carte cookbook)
Feel free to substitute 2 cups of cherry or pearl tomatoes because there’s a lot more flavor packed into those little things and they roast beautifully too.
1 large eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 ripe tomatoes cut into halves
1 each red, green and yellow pepper, roasted
3 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh ground black pepper
Garnish with fresh mozzarella, basil or parsley
Cut eggplant into quarter inch slices leaving the peel on. Sprinkle with salt on both sides, and place on sheets of paper towels, wrapping it well. Place a cutting board and heavy pot on top to squeeze out the moisture. Allow to sit that way for 20 to 30 minutes before continuing. Preheat broiler. Brush excess salt from eggplant and dry well with paper towels. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil and place on a sheet pan along with tomato halves. Roast until eggplant slices are golden brown on both sides and tomatoes start to brown.
Slice eggplant into narrow strips and cut tomato halves into wedges. Peel, seed and slice roasted peppers into thin strips. Add to eggplant in bowl along with garlic, any remaining olive oil and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar. Season liberally with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh mozzarella and chopped basil or parsley. Serve either warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings
Italian Flavored Burgers (from JBug’s Kitchen adapted from Cooking Light via myrecipes.com)
3/4 pound extra lean ground beef
3/4 pound crumbled sweet Italian sausage (I used chicken)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/3 cup cold water
Combine all ingredients together and form into four 6 ounce patties. Pan fry or grill for approximately 7 minutes a side or until internal temperature reaches 165. Serve on eggplant salad.
A year ago - Mexican Pot Roast in Soft Tacos
Two year's ago - Pizza con Proscuitto Coto