Tag Archives: balsamic

Grilled Eggplant Carpaccio Stuffed with Arugula and Fontina and a *Free* Bottle of Olive Oil

Living in the city, I find that I’m often on guard. This is especially true in my neighborhood, which proudly boasts the most diverse zip code in the USA, but also has the (not so) occasional high-speed car race / gun fight. It’s not really that bad…this is Seattle we’re talking about after all, not Detroit or St. Louis, but it’s also not leave your windows open, drop your bikes in the front yard, walk alone at midnight, small town Americana.

One of my favorite Summer Salads: Mozzarella, Basil, and Heirloom Tomatoes, Drizzled with Olive Oil and Finished with Salt and Pepper

This is why the friendships that we’ve built with the people in our neighborhood are so extraordinary. Perhaps it takes a certain type of person to live in a transitional neighborhood, so there’s some kind of natural pre-selection, but in our little microcosm of the city we’ve managed to create a small town feel, where keys to each other’s homes are shared, dog walks are traded, and calling the neighbor for a cup of sugar is welcomed and often completed with a glass of wine to boot.

In the summer this results in impromptu BBQs, days at the lake, and of course the inevitable doggy play dates. All the gals have made a pact that they won’t fuss about cleaning their house before others come over (though this goes against every bone in my body and occasionally results in an eye twitch), and we’ve all become comfortable enough in each other’s kitchens that taking over a quick salad production or setting the table is second nature.

Getting ready for our most recent feast…three hours of eating, drinking, and laughing.

Perhaps somewhere deep, deep inside me I’ve got some Italian grandmother or something, because I love nothing more than feeding a crowd. Sitting outside with finally snoring puppies at our feet, as evening sets in, and the fire begins to crackle, feels like near perfection.

These appetizers are admittedly a bit of work, but are such a wonderfully unexpected combination of flavors I find myself craving them often. The combination of a mandolin and sliced fontina cuts down on the preparation time significantly, and with a few extra hands these can be quickly whipped together.

GIVEAWAY: The olive oil you use in these is key, which is why I’m very excited to be able to offer one reader a bottle of their choice from the spectacular California Olive Ranch. I’m partial to the Arbequina, which is what I used in this dish, but they have a wonderful selection pending on what you want to do with it. Will happily ship anywhere in the United States.

HOW TO ENTER: Simply share this post using whatever social media channel you prefer (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Messenger Pigeon) and then provide the link to your share in the comment section. Easy as that!

DEADLINE: Friday, August 24th. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday the 27th.

Grilled Eggplant Carpaccio Stuffed with Arugula and Fontina
Makes approximately 15 – 20 appetizers, pending on the size of the eggplant, but these things go like hot cakes, so plan accordingly

Grilled Eggplant Carpaccio, Stuffed with Fontina and Arugula and Drizzled with Arbequina Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

1 large eggplant, top and bottom chopped off

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, best you can afford, I used California Olive Ranch because I’m currently obsessed with their Arbequina variety

Coarse Salt & Pepper

Sliced fontina cheese (if pre-sliced size cut in half so doesn’t lay over the eggplant)

1/2 bag baby arugula

Balsamic vinegar

  1. Using a mandolin, cut the eggplant lengthwise into thin strips and place slices on a cookie sheet.
  2. Brush each side generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat BBQ and grill eggplant on both sides for about 4-6 minutes or until soft and nicely marked.
  5. Place cheese in center of each eggplant slice and keep on grill until cheese begins to melt.
  6. Remove from grill and return to cookie sheet.
  7. Place small bunch of arugula, perpendicularly, on top of each slice and roll up lengthwise.
  8. Drizzle with more olive oil and balsamic and serve warm or room temperature.

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Filed under Appetizers, Entertaining, Giveaways, Uncategorized

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

A dear friend, and fellow blogger, recently described her great accomplishments of the past month as:

  • “I did not cry in the past four days even though sometimes I was really drunk.”
  • “I went to the beach everyday in August and did not get burned.”
  • “Yesterday, at the grocery store there were free samples of cake and I did not eat one.”

Because of how my life has been going, I’ve been measuring my triumphs in a similar scale. Take today for instance:

  • Upon waking, my hair only moderately resembled a rogue bonsai.
  • I did not once sign one of the 200 work emails I fast and furiously sent out with ‘xoxo’. (this is a deep seeded fear of mine, even though it has only happened once).
  • I successfully managed to wear one of those chunky chic necklaces that are so popular right now without anyone openly mistaking me for a kindergarten teacher.

Yes…today was a good day.

The real triumph of the day however, undoubtedly, and per usual, came in the kitchen.

My tomato plants, having been seriously stunted by our lame summer, finally kicked into gear and produced a whole slew of beautiful, tomatoes. Add to that a bit of stale bread in my freezer, and a shameless desire to recreate the oh-so-delicious panzanella salad I recently had at Rowhouse and we were in action.

This is very easy and quick to make, and is beautiful when presented. A perfect way to use the last of summer’s bounty.

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Serves 4-6

1/2 pound (about 5 cups)  stale bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes.  You want the bread to be substantial; think french bread or sour dough.

1 lb ripe tomatoes (about 3-4 cups), cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 can garbanzo beans

1/4 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced

1/2 cup olive oil, + 3-4 TB

3 TB Balsamic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss the bread with 3 TB olive oil. Add the remaining 1 TB to a cast iron skillet, bring to medium heat, and brown the bread as if making croutons. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In the same serving bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper and whisk to make a dressing.

3. Add to the bowl the tomatoes, the garbanzo, the red onions, the kalamata olives, the mozzarella (optional), the basil, and the bread.

   
   

4. Toss to thoroughly combine.

5. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed the tomato juices without losing its texture.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Lactose Free, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian