Roasted Chicken Caponata

Ok, probably not actually “caponata”, but a delicious combination of flavors that fill the house with an incredible aroma. My sweet pea decided to not nap at all today, so as soon as the hubby got home from work, I jumped on the opportunity to hand off the baby and run out to the supermarket. I had no clue what I was going to make, but the chicken thighs were on sale so I went with them. The frigid snowy weather has me longing for summer flavors so I gravitated towards the tomatoes. While tomatoes may not be in season, Campari tomatoes always seem to do the trick. Added an eggplant to the basket and then headed home so figure something out. Wow, this was simple to prepare and tasted scrumptious!
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Garden Veggie Topped Pork Chops with Pepper Purée

I don’t know why I don’t make pork more often. It is delicious and healthy! I think that as I grew up, trichinosis fears lead to overcooked and very chewy pork chops. When cooked right, it is juicier and more flavorful than chicken.
2 pork chops
1 small eggplant – slices into thick slices
2 small tomatoes – stems removed
1 red bell pepper – halved and seeded
3 Serrano peppers- tops cut off
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup water
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat grill to medium high. Grill peppers until cooked through – about 5 minutes per side.
2. Grill pork chops, eggplant, and tomatoes for 5 minutes per side.
3. While pork and veggies are grilling, in a food processor, purée red peppers, Serrano peppers, olive oil, walnuts, sundried tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper.
4. Plate pork chop, top with grilled eggplant and tomatoes, and top with pepper purée.

Grilled Aubergine Dip

After sailing (and eating) my way through the Mediterranean on our honeymoon, I have come back inspired! One day at lunch, we were served “eggplant goop”. Sounds tasty, right? There was actually an Italian name for this hummus like dip made from eggplant instead of chick peas, but we can’t remember what it was to save our lives. Do you know? Please comment if so!

1 large eggplant
1Tbsp. Olive oil + 2 drizzles worth
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup nuts (pine or walnuts)
1 tsp. lemon zest
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp. paprika + a sprinkle for garnish
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat grill to medium low heat. Drizzle eggplant with olive oil to thinly coat. Grill for 30 minutes while rotating frequently.
2. Cut up eggplant into 1 inch chunks and add to food processor. Add remaining ingredients and blend on high for 3 minutes or until smooth.
3. Transfer dip to a serving bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. Serve with veggies or other dippers.

Garden Quinoa

After a nearly three week hiatus, I am back! A few things have changed – I am married, glowing from the honeymoon, and inspired by Mediterranean dishes more than ever after sailing around Sardinia and Corsica.

Our return to reality was rocky (Literally! Living on a 48 foot sailboat gives you sea legs very quickly!), but it is great to be home. Our garden is exploding with fresh produce, and after sitting around all morning thinking of other things to do rather than tackling changing my name, I decided I would create a scrumptious dish for lunch. Best part was, everything was either in the garden or pantry, so no trip to the supermarket!

1 cup quinoa
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small eggplant – chopped
1 small tomato – chopped
2 Italian roaster peppers – chopped
1 small onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – minced
10 leaves basil – chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Pepper to taste

1. In a medium sized pot over medium high heat, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
2. Add eggplant, tomato, peppers, and basil and sauté for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
3. Add chicken broth (note: 1 cup of quinoa needs 2 cups of liquid. If the vegetables did not produce any while cooking, add extra chicken broth) and quinoa. Lower heat to a simmer, stir, and cover to cook for 15 minutes or until quinoa is done.
4. Serve right away or chilled.

Grilled Eggplant Caponata

We did it! We grew our first eggplant of our new garden! Just like any proud parent, I must show off my little bundle of joy. Here he is:

Ok, now it’s time to cook him!

Caponata is a traditional Italian dish, and the very first thing that came to mind when looking to cook this guy. My version is the traditional version with a couple of twists that I hope you like! You can serve it in dip form as an appetizer, or substitute it for bruschetta. I will be topping grilled chicken with it tonight. You can also toss it with some pasta. Use your imagination, and please comment to let me know some of your awesome plans for it!

1 medium to large eggplant
1 large red pepper
1 large onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – minced
20 olives of your choice – pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp. pine nuts – toasted
1 Tbsp. capers
10 leaves fresh basil – chopped
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat grill to medium high heat.
2. Trim the ends off eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Cut pepper in half and remove seeds. Drizzle a little olive oil on veggies, and grill for 5 minutes per side.
3. While eggplant and pepper are grilling, sauté onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat until onion begins to caramelize.
4. Remove veggies from grill, allow to cool until you can handle them, and slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
5. In a large mixing bowl, combine veggies, onions with garlic, olives, pine nuts, capers, basil, vinegar,and olive oil. Careful stir and season to your liking with salt and pepper.
6. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold… But please let me know how you serve it!