A few summers ago, while on vacation visiting a friend, she took me to a Greek sandwich shop at the Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. I had never cared much for eggplant before that experience, but the eggplant sandwich I adventurously (I thought) chose that day completely changed my mind. Unlike the disappointing eggplant Parmesan I’d been submitted to at potlucks as a child, this was sweet and velvety and delicious with gorgeously ripe tomatoes, tangy shards of feta and briny olive tapenade. As soon as I got back to Chattanooga, I attempted to recreate it, and eventually landed on a recipe that I was happy with.
A couple of years later, I had a friend coming for dinner and purchased the ingredients for this sandwich, only to find out that she had recently discovered that she was gluten-intolerant. Without time to go shopping for something else, I decided to give the sandwich a bit of a makeover and turned it into a salad. It was delicious that way as well, so now I offer you the recipe in its original iteration, as well as its gluten-free cousin.
I make no claims that this recipe is authentically Greek, but it is certainly inspired by Mediterranean flavors and, more importantly, is delicious.
Greek Eggplant Sandwiches
Meanwhile, slice the bread loaf down the middle lengthwise to separate the top and bottom halves of the loaf. Bake for 4-5 minutes, or until the bread begins to get a bit toasted. Remove from the oven and rub the cut sides with the garlic.
To assemble the sandwich, slather one piece of bread with tapenade. Layer on the eggplant, feta, tomatoes and onions, then top with the remaining bread. Slice into four pieces and serve with a side salad of seasonal greens.
Makes 4 servings.
Make it vegan: Simply omit the feta and be more generous with the tapenade.
Greek Eggplant Salad
To serve, layer the greens on a large platter and top with the roasted eggplant, tomatoes, onions and crumbled feta. Drizzle lightly with the dressing and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Make it vegan: Omit the feta and add a couple of tablespoons of capers. _______________________________________________________
Black Olive Tapenade
I love tomato season so much that I tend to come home from the market each week with 5-10 pounds of them. While I absolutely love to simply slice them and drizzle with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and flaky sea salt, even I cannot eat ten pounds of tomatoes a week this way.
This recipe was born of a brunch-time craving for tomatoes. It works well for breakfast, as a side dish or a standalone meal.
For the biscuits
Cut up the tomatoes into roughly one-inch chunks. If you are using cherry tomatoes, simply leave them whole. When the onions have caramelized add them to the tomatoes. Sprinkle over the thyme, oregano, a good sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the tomato mixture to a medium-sized baking dish (about 1.5 q. capacity–mine is 10.5 by 7 inches). Spoon the biscuit mixture over top and brush with a little more buttermilk if you like.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the biscuits are completely cooked and golden brown on top.
Serves 6 for breakfast, or 8 as a side.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of collaborating with a friend and local pastry chef to put together an engagement party dinner for a dear mutual friend of ours. We immediately decided that the menu would be locally sourced and highlight the beautiful produce, meat and dairy that can be found in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Alongside of some locally raised pork tenderloin we served a salad of peaches and pickled onions with honey brittle and biscuits flecked with chives and Sequatchie Cove’s Rocky Battle Blue Cheese. Dessert spotlighted local blueberries and buttermilk in a milkshake and fresh herbs in sage shortbread cookies. But to begin with, we started with a chilled corn soup that I spent weeks fantasizing about, waiting for corn to come into season so that I could figure out how I would make it.
This soup is a perfect start to a meal or light summer lunch and is easily made a day ahead. I strain this soup, which you certainly don’t have to, though I think the smooth texture is definitely worth a little extra time and effort (and that’s coming from someone who prefers her home cooked meals to be on the rustic side). While this soup is intended to serve four, the recipe is easily doubled to accommodate more, or for heartier portions.
Cool Corn and Buttermilk Soup
Allow the corn to cool. Puree the corn and broth thoroughly in a blender or food processor (in batches, if need be) and stir in the buttermilk. You can chill and serve at this stage, but I prefer to push the soup through a sieve before chilling. Press the corn puree through the sieve with a back of the spoon until you are sure you cannot get any more liquid out of the corn mash, and take care to scrap the bottom of the sieve as well.
Chill for at least two hours before serving. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche if you like.
Pavlova is a dessert that I had never tried until I made it myself. I’d heard about it for years, but never saw it on menus or ran across a friend who knew how to make one. Finally one day, having a lot of leftover egg whites after making pasta, I decided I would give it a try–and I’m very glad I did because it is delicious. It is now a staple recipe in my kitchen.
A pavlova is essentially a giant meringue that you bake until it is crispy on the outside but still a little soft on the inside, and then top with whatever you like–usually whipped cream and fruit. You can make tons of variations of this, depending on what you add to the meringue base or use to top it, but the recipe I’m sharing with you today is probably my favorite iteration.
A little history lesson for you: the pavlova was named for Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The light and airy meringue base was thought to be reminiscent of the dancer’s tulle tutus.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat together the egg whites, salt and sugar together until the mixture is glossy and peaks form. Next, sprinkle in the cornstarch and add the vinegar and vanilla extract. Gently fold together until just combined (any easy way to check this is to fold until you cannot see the caramel colored streaks from the vanilla).
Spoon the mixture into a pile on a parchment lined baking sheet. Smooth into a disk about 8″ in diameter. Place in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 300 degrees. Bake for one hour, then turn off the oven and allow to stand for 2 hours, or until the oven has completely cooled. Meanwhile, whip the cream with a teaspoon of sugar until thick. I actually like to over whip my cream just a little, so that it’s dense instead of light and fluffy, but this is entirely up to you.
When you are ready to serve the pavlova, invert it onto a serving dish, so that the “bottom” of the meringue faces up. Spread with a thin layer of lemon curd or apricot jam. Spoon over the whipped cream and spread evenly. Top with with the blackberries, crushing half of them with your fingers as you sprinkle them on the pavlova so that the white cream gets flecked with the beautiful purple juices.
Cut into wedges and serve.
Market farmer Stephanie Everett and her customer Erin Yon like to talk serious food when they see each other at the market! They recently shared their favorite non-traditional pesto recipes to pass along to the MSFM community.
From the kitchen of Stephanie Everett of Everett Heritage Farm:
Arugula Pesto RecipeINGREDIENTS
2 cups of packed arugula leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup of shelled walnuts or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 garlic clove peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Brown 6 garlic cloves with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.
2 Toast the nuts in a pan over medium heat until lightly brown, or heat in a microwave on high heat for a minute or two until you get that roasted flavor. In our microwave it takes 2 minutes.
3a Food processor method (the fast way): Combine the arugula, salt, walnuts, roasted and raw garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
3b Mortar and pestle method: Combine the nuts, salt and garlic in a mortar. With the pestle, grind until smooth. Add the cheese and olive oil, grind again until smooth. Finely chop the arugula and add it to the mortar. Grind up with the other ingredients until smooth.
Here’s a recipe favored by Erin Yon, from Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan: carrot top pesto!
Recipe: Carrot Top Pesto“I almost always buy fresh carrots with their feathery green tops attached. In the past, I would invariably cut the tops off and send them to the compost bin. Honestly, it never occurred to me that they were edible. But the tops of other root vegetables are edible, so why wouldn’t carrot tops be edible, too? One day I blanched the leaves, pureed them with a little olive oil and then used the puree as a gorgeous green accent sauce for fish, much in the same way I use basil oil. My next idea was to make pesto, trading out the basil for carrot tops, which proved an amazing alternative.
I serve this as a dip with crudites and often add a dollop on top of bruschetta that has been smeared with fresh goat cheese. It’s also perfect simply tossed with pasta.
Makes about 2/3 cup
1 cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed)
6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (see below)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
To Toast The Nuts
Toasting pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews and pumpkin seeds brings out their flavor. Spread the nuts or seeds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, place in a preheated 350-degree oven and toast until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the nut or seed. Alternatively, nuts and seeds can be browned in a microwave. Spread in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power, stopping to stir once or twice, until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.
To Make the Pesto
In a food processor, combine the carrot leaves, oil, garlic, and salt and process until finely minced. Add the pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. Add the Parmesan and pulse just until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.”
Recipe reprinted from Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan. Copyright 2012 by Diane Morgan.