Roasted Japanese Eggplant Salad with Pine Nuts and Capers

The rustic flavors of this exceptionally good summer salad bring out all the complexity of the
roasted eggplant. Crunchy, toasted pine nuts and fragrant basil balance the little bites of pungent
capers, while balsamic and red wine vinegars add both sweetness and intensity. This recipe is
similar to caponata, but the eggplant is roasted – not fried – so it is lighter and much easier to
prepare. We use slender, firm Japanese eggplant here; it holds its texture when roasted and
absorbs far less oil than traditional globe eggplant. This is a great dish for a party; serve it with croutons, olives, and marinated fresh mozzarella.

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds Japanese eggplant, sliced ½ inch thick on the diagonal
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper
¼ large red onion, finely diced, about ½ cup
Red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
20 large basil leaves, stacked and sliced into thin ribbons, about ¼ cup
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Toss the eggplant in a large bowl with the oil, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few pinches
of pepper. Lay the slices in a single layer on baking sheets and roast for 10 minutes. Rotate the
pans, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes more. When the eggplant is cool enough to
handle, slice it into ¼-inch thick diagonal strips.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and drop in the onions for 20 seconds. Drain and toss
with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar. Combine the eggplant, capers, pine nuts, basil, and onions in a large bowl. Toss gently with the balsamic vinegar and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar, if needed. If the salad is tart, add a pinch or two of sugar.

Recipe from Everyday Greens by Annie Somerville, Executive Chef, Greens Restaurant

Green Beans and Shelling Beans with Cherry Tomatoes

Young shelling beans – available at farmers’ markets throughout the summer months – are the big deal here, cooked until completely tender and dressed warm, so they soak up the sharp Champagne Vinaigrette. You can use different varieties of beans; just be sure to cook them separately, as the cooking time will vary with their size.

Serves 4

Champagne Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
½ pound shelling beans: cranberry, cannellini, or flageolet, shelled, about ¾ cup beans
½ pound fresh summer beans: yellow wax or Blue Lake green beans, green or yellow.
Romano, stem ends trimmed and cut in half on the diagonal½ cup ripe, little cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or ½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
Salt and pepper
Champagne vinegar

Make the vinaigrette and set aside.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and drop in the shelling beans.  Lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook until completely tender, about 12 to 15 minutes.  Taste the beans to be sure they’re ready before you drain them.  Drain and toss in a large bowl with half of the vinaigrette and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Set aside to cool.

Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil and salt lightly.  Cook the fresh beans separately, allowing 2 to 3 minutes for green beans, 4 to 6 minutes for yellow wax, and 6 to 8 minutes for large Romano beans.  Scoop them from the water with a strainer; rinse under cold water and drain.  Toss the fresh beans into the shelling beans along with the remaining vinaigrette and the herbs. 

Just before serving, add the tomatoes and season to taste with salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar, if needed.

Champagne Vinaigrette
Makes a generous 1/3 cup

2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine everything but the oil in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in the oil until emulsified.

Tip:  If shelling beans aren’t available, just make the salad without them and increase the cherry tomatoes to a full cup.

Corn and Fire-Roasted Poblano Salad with Cilantro

We feature this zesty summer salad with quesadillas, guacamole, and Fire Roasted Salsa.  The combination couldn’t be better.  Be sure to taste the roasted chilies before adding them to the salad; though usually mild, they can be surprisingly fiery. 

Serves 4 to 6

 

¼ large red onion, diced, about ½ cup
1 tablespoon Champagne or rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ears corn, shaved, about 4 cups kernels
Salt
¼ cup water
Fire-Roasted Poblano Chilies, peeled, seeded, and diced, about ½ cup
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and drop in the onion for 20 seconds.  Drain and toss with the vinegar to draw out its pink color.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan.  Add the corn, ¼ teaspoon salt, and sauté over medium heat for about 1 minute.  Add the water, lower the heat, and cover the pan.  Simmer, covered, until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. 

Transfer to a bowl and toss with the chilies, onion, lime juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of cayenne.  Set aside to cool. 

Just before serving, add the cilantro and season to taste with salt and cayenne.

Tip:  To make this salad even easier, you can prepare the separate elements ahead of time and combine them at the last minute.  The poblano chilies keep well for several days in the refrigerator or can be frozen and defrosted just before using.

Italian Butter Beans with Meyer Lemon and Tarragon

Large, starchy Italian butter beans are our choice for this versatile, year round salad.  If Italian butter beans beans aren’t available, use cannellini, white runner, or any large white bean instead.  Allow plenty of time and cook the beans gently, so they hold their shape when tossed with the vinaigrette. 

Serves 4 to 6  Makes about 4 cups

1½ cups Italian butter beans, about 9 ounces, sorted and soaked overnight
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
¼ large red onion, finely diced, about ½ cup
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
Pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Drain and rinse the beans.  Place them in a large saucepan with the water and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer until they’re tender but still hold their shape, about 1½ hours. Make the vinaigrette and set aside.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil and drop in the onion for 30 seconds.  Drain and toss in a small bowl with the vinegar.

Drain the beans and toss them immediately with the onions, vinaigrette and a pinch or two of pepper.  Marinate for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally as the salad cools.  Just before serving, add the tarragon and parsley.

Meyer LemonVinaigrette

If Meyer lemons aren’t available, use regular lemons instead.

2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk everything but the oil together in a small bowl. Slowly pour in the oil, whisking until emulsified.

Makes about ½ cup

Pappardelle with Spring Vegetables and Lemon Cream

This lovely spring pasta celebrates green: asparagus, English peas, and fava beans are tossed with wide noodles and a rich lemon-infused cream.  We steep the cream with lemon rind to intensify the flavor.  If Meyer lemons are available, by all means use them here.  You can substitute spring onions or leeks for the shallots.  If you’re short on time, skip the peas and fava beans and simply go with the asparagus. A sprinkling of chive blossoms adds a beautiful touch.

Serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS:

2 lemons

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

½ pound fava beans, shelled, about ¾ cup

½ pound asparagus, tough stem ends removed, cut in 2-inch pieces on the diagonal, about 1 cup

½ pound English peas, shelled, about ½ cup

1½ tablespoons olive oil

3 large shallots, sliced, about ½ cup

2 teaspoons minced garlic

¼ cup white wine

¾ pound fresh papparadelle

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated, about 1/3 cup, plus more to serve at the table

Chive blossoms (optional)

 

Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to remove three wide strips of rind from one of the lemons.  Combine in a small saucepan with the cream and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat, remove from the heat, and steep for 30 minutes.  Strain the cream.  

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt lightly.  

Use a zester to remove threads from the remaining lemon rind, keeping the threads as long as possible.  You should have about ¼ cup; place them in a small bowl.  Squeeze the juice of one half lemon; you should have about 1½ tablespoons.  Scoop enough hot water from the pot to cover the lemon threads and allow them to soak for 30 seconds.  Drain and set aside.  

Drop the fava beans into the pot and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Scoop them out and rinse under cold water, then slip them out of their skins.  Drop in the asparagus and the peas separately, cooking them until just tender and still bright green:  allow 2 to 3 minutes for the asparagus and 1½ to 2 minutes for the peas.  Rinse them under cold water and drain well.   Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the shallots, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.  Cook over medium heat until the shallots begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes; add the garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add the wine and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and cook until the pan is nearly dry, about 3 minutes.  

Meanwhile, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes.  Just before you drain the pasta, scoop out ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid, and add it to the sauté pan.  Drain the pasta in a colander.  Add the cream to the sauté pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the pasta, the vegetables, the lemon threads, the remaining lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.  Gently toss everything together to coat with the sauce and cook for a minute or two to heat the vegetables thorough.  Remove from the heat, toss in the Parmesan, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with the chive blossoms, if using, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan.  

Tip:  If you don’t have a zester, peel wide strips of rind with a vegetable peeler and cut them into skinny strips.

Make ahead tips:  Shell the English peas and fava beans and steep the cream.  You can even blanch the fava beans and slip them out of their skins a few hours in advance.  

Vegetable Brochettes with Marinated Tofu

Vegetable Brochettes with Marinated Tofu
from Executive Chef Annie Somerville, Greens Restaurant

Certain vegetables are always good to include— mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, boiling onions, and green peppers—to provide contrasting colors and textures, but others can be included when in season. In summer try round of sweet corn, zucchini, eggplant, and new potatoes. In winter include winter squash, slices of yams or sweet potatoes, or fennel. Remember that you will need to marinate the tofu at least a day before making this dish. Use 10-inch-long wooden skewers; allow two brochettes per person for a main course.

For Vegetable Brochettes:

Makes eight 10-inch brochettes; serves four

Ingredients:
Brochette Marinade (see below)
16 medium mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, or pepper of any color, cut into squares orwedges
8 cherry tomatoes
16 boiling onions, parboiled and peeled
Choose two or three of the following:
Zucchini and yellow squash, cut into rounds
Sweet corn, cliced through the cob into ½ inch rounds
Winter squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
Small new potatoes, or potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
Sweet potatoes, or yams, cut into rounds
Japanese eggplant, cut into ¼ inch rounds
Fennel, thickly sliced
16 to 24 ounces Marinated Tofu (see below), cut into 1-inch cubes
8 bay leaves
Salt
Pepper

Directions:

  1. Prepare the brochette marinade and set aside.
  2. Clean and trim the vegetables. If boiling onions are not available, use 2 or 3 red or yellow onions, cut into wide wedges, the root ends left intact. Some of the vegetables need to be parboiled: 2 to 3 minutes for the corn; 6 to 8 minutes for the winter squash; 10 to 12 minutes for the potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes. Cook the vegetables until they are done but still firm enough not to fall off the skewers, keeping in mind that they will cook about 10 minutes over the coals. Toss the eggplant slices in oil.
  3. Gather all the vegetables and the tofu. Plan to place a mushroom on either end (they work well as an anchor for the rest of the vegetable); then skewer an assortment of vegetables and the tofu, including the bay leaves, to make a colorful, attractive brochette. Put the finished brochettes on a baking sheet, and brush them generously with the brochette marinade, turning them so that all sides are well coated.
  4. Grill the brochettes 6 to 8 inches over the coals, turning every few minutes to expose all the surfaces to the heat. When the vegetables are nicely browned and hot, after 5 to 10 mintues, depending on the heat of the fire, remove them to a serving platter. Brush them with extra marinade, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve.

For Brochette Marinade:

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon herbs: parsley, thyme, marjoram, finely chopped
¾ cup olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Directions:

Mix the vinegar with the garlic, mustard, and herbs. Whisk in the oil, and season with salt and pepper.

For Marinated Tofu:

Makes 2 ½ cups marinade (enough for 2 packages tofu)

Tofu, bland by nature, is given character with this strong marinade. Prepared in this fashion, the tofu is used in the Vegetable Brochettes. Use firm (Chinese-style) tofu, rather than the soft or regular tofu, because it can be easily handled without breaking.

Ingredients:

1 or 2 packages firm tofu, 14 to 18 ounces each
½ ounce dried wild mushrooms, porcini or shiitake
1 cup water
2 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ cup olive oil
½ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
½ cup red wine
½ cup tamari soy sauce
4 cloves
½ teaspoon salt
Several twists black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the tofu into slabs 1-inch thick—firm tofu often comes in pieces that size—and drain them: Set them on a bread board or the back of a baking sheet and raise one end; point the lower end toward the sink  to let the water drain off. Cover the tofu with another tray and weight it down with something heavy, such as a few cans of tomatoes. Let the tofu drain for about ½ hour. This will remove excess water and allow the marinade to penetrate without being diluted.
  2. While the tofu is draining, prepare the marinade. Simmer the mushrooms in the water for 15 minutes. Heat a small heavy skillet and toast the oregano or marjoram slowly until it is fragrant. Add the oregano and the remaining ingredients to the pot with the mushrooms, bring to a boil, and simmer slowly for a few minutes more.
  3. Remove the tofu from the draining board and arrange it in a single layer in a square or rectangular non-corrosive pan. Strain the marinade through a coffee filter or paper towel and pour it over the tofu. Cover with plastic or a lid and refrigerate at least one day, preferably longer.
  4. The tofu can marinate 4 to 5 days. The marinade can be boiled, strained, and reused, if the tofu was well drained.