Grilled Eggplant Agrodolce with Mint & Fresno Pepper

Sweet & Sour Grilled Eggplant Salad with Mint & Fresno PepperI wasn’t quite sure what to call or how to categorize my grilled eggplant, mint, and pepper concoction.  Is it a salad?  A side dish?  Main course?  I could certainly eat enough of it to push into the realm of dinner main.  And the name…it’s got the whole agrodolce thing going on, could I stretch and call it a caponata?

Before I go on, let me explain what’s happening here.  It’s a heap of grilled eggplant that’s been tossed with sweetened vinegar, olive oil, red chili peppers, and fresh mint.   It’s sweet and sour with a kick of spice and a whisper of smoke.  Hearty, but light and bright at the same time.  Wildly addictive.  Intended as a side, but scarfable enough to become the main event.

Okay, I think I’ve got it!  I’ll name it “Wildly Delicious, Totally Addictive, Spicy, Sweet & Sour Grilled Eggplant Salad” and place it firmly in the “Sides Turned Main” category of the recipe index.

Get what I’m saying?  It’s good.  You’ll make it,  you’ll like it, you’ll eat a lot of it.  Let me show you how it goes together.

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Zucchini Pancakes with Smoked Trout & Dilled Yogurt

Zucchini Pancakes with Smoked Trout & Dill YogurtAugust is a difficult month for me.  Sure, it’s summer and the livin’ is supposed to be easy, but halfway through, I enter full-on summer-is-coming-to-an-end panic mode.  I’ve got to cram every moment with fun, got to have another backyard barbecue, toast another s’more.  Have I had any watermelon yet?  Eaten enough sweet corn?  Gotta get to a lake, see if I remember how to water ski.  Have to figure out what to do with the neighbor’s bumper crop of zucchini.  Got to check everything off my summer bucket list before I blink and it’s over.

What I really need to do is breathe.  Just settle down.  Think of the fun times I’ve had in the first part of the summer without freaking out over how much more I’ll be able to cram into the next few weeks.  Make pancakes.  Pancakes calm.

These won’t be just any pancakes; these are zucchini pancakes.  Think latkes, but with shredded zucchini instead of potatoes.  We’ll gussy them up with smoked trout and a dollop of herb-spiked yogurt.  They’ll calm us for the moment, nourish and fuel us for our next end-of-summer adventure.

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White Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic & Eggplant

Roasted Eggplant & White Bean DipI really hope I never come face to face with my recycling pick-up guy.  I fear his judgement. Every week my bin looks the same: the Sunday newspaper, obviously untouched, a couple too many empty wine bottles, and an absurd number of bean cans.  He probably imagines me to be some gassy, illiterate wino, bottle in one hand, can o’ beans in the other.

But you don’t need to hear about my irrational bout of self-consciousness.  You need to hear about how one of those many cans of beans and bottles of wine turned into something more, something better.  We’re talking a white bean and eggplant dip, loaded with roasted garlic and richened with fruity olive oil.  We’re talking way delicious, super easy, and, if paired with a wedge of cheese, a bottle of wine, and some olives or salami, the center of an awesome appetizer spread.

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Salmon Tartare with Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Capers

Salmon Tartare with Tomatoes, Capers & CucmbersThe mere suggestion of  tartare is enough to make me drop whatever I’m doing, run to the store for fish or a steak, grab a sharp knife, and start chopping.

Earlier in the day, someone was asking me about the salmon tartare with avocado and tarragon that I posted a few months back.  That alone got the tartare wheel in motion, and then I happened upon a picture of tuna tartare with potato chips on another blog which reminded me what an excellent vehicle kettle chips are for tartare and officially sealed the deal: tartare was my dinner destiny.

Let’s take our latest batch of  tartare down a summery path.  We’ll dress diced salmon with a drizzle of good olive oil, fresh lemon zest, minced shallots, and a smattering of chives and liven it up with a bright tomato, cucumber, caper, and basil base.  It’s going to be good and it’s going to leave you with tartare on the brain for weeks life. [Read more…]

Grilled Baby Octopus with Tomato Confit, Potatoes & Chard

Grilled Baby Octopus with Tomato Confit, Potatoes & ChardSending my boyfriend to the fish market is a lot like sending a kid into a candy shop. Only difference is, Matt’s got an adult appetite and his own credit card.  Allow him into the store and he’ll inevitably buy twice as much of whatever he originally went in for plus at least one grab-bag item.

Which is how I came to have a frozen brick of baby octopuses in my freezer.

I try to act annoyed, but truthfully, I’d be troubled if he actually returned from shopping with 2 respectably sized 6 oz. fillets of fish and nothing more.  It’s who he is and what he does. And I’m left to figure out what to do with everything.

Which is who I am and what I do. [Read more…]