Tag Archives: kale breadcrumbs

Cheesy Eggplant Pasta Bake

Adventures in eggplant are always interesting. Mostly because I usually feel like I don’t know what I’m doing so every time I cook it it feels like an experiment. I didn’t grow up eating it…ever. Even now I don’t eat it all that often. But with my weekly surprise farm boxes, sometimes they come my way and I’m hate throwing away food so you can bet I will find a way to cook it! I’m still teaching myself to cook it, and to love it. I’m not quite there yet, but we have reached an accord, the eggplant and I.

I would call this particular eggplant experiment a success. I mean, really, when you add sauce and cheese and pasta, you can pretty much throw anything in there and it will be good, am I right? The ricotta and marinara sauce mingle into a wonderful creamy coating for the noodles and the eggplant adds great texture (and a few vitamins, yay!). If you want a little less texture, I would recommend peeling the eggplant. I left the peel on and didn’t mind it a bit.

Don’t be intimidated by all the steps. While there are several components, they are all individually easy to make and the finished dish is pretty, hearty and great for serving a crowd, or sticking in your fridge to eat all week, or gifting it to friends or family who have had a busy day.

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Cheesy Eggplant Pasta Bake

Sauce:
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped olives
Handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped or torn
Salt & pepper to taste

Crumb:
1/2 cup chopped kale, spinach or herbs
1 clove garlic
2 slices of sourdough bread (stale is best!)
Pinch of sea salt

For the bake:
2 cups diced eggplant (bite size dice) – 1 large eggplant or 2 little ones
1 tsp. sea salt
1 package penne pasta
16 oz. ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan
8 oz. mozzarella

Heat oven to 375˚. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray or rub with olive oil. Set aside.

Put eggplant in a colander and toss with sea salt. Let it sit in the sink for 10 minutes while you make the sauce, pasta and crumb topping. The salt will help draw out the extra moisture so it isn’t mushy in your casserole.

In a medium sauce pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Add garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook a minute or so until fragrant but not browned. Add tomatoes and olives. Bring to a boil and then turn down and let simmer. Add basil. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Cook pasta according to package directions, removing about a minute earlier than usual so it’s still a little al dente. It will continue to cook in the oven so this will keep it from getting too soft. Drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside.

Combine kale, garlic, sourdough bread and sea salt in a food processor. Pulse to get a crumb mixture. Sauté in a large dry skillet until it’s slightly brown and crunchy. (You can also do this step in the oven, but keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.) Set aside.

Spread paper towels on your counter top and put the eggplant on top of them. Press down on top with another layer of paper towels to remove the moisture that has accumulated. Heat a grill pan or large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Spread out eggplant evenly in one layer. Cook a few minutes on each side until slightly browned and tender but not mushy.

Build your casserole. Start with half the sauce in the bottom of the dish. Top with the pasta. Then the ricotta in dollops all around and then smear them around to form a layer. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Add eggplant. Then the other half of the sauce. Top with mozzarella, just torn into chunks. Finish with breadcrumb topping.

Bake at 375˚ for 25 minutes, or until top is crunchy and cheese is melty. Serves 6.

Right out of the oven. Mmmm.

Right out of the oven. Mmmm.

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Rustic Potato Leek Soup with Garlic Kale Breadcrumbs

I know, I know. It’s freaking 80 degrees and I’m making soup. So sue me. I like soup.

Moreover, soup is a great way to use up some of the vegetables that are literally taking over my kitchen. They won’t fit in the fridge. They are overflowing. My weekly farm boxes have been generous, wonderful, delicious. But…plentiful. Plentiful to the point of having to work to eat it all. We went out to eat once or twice this week so I was falling behind on the vegetable consumption project. I’m trying to be creative so we eat more than just gigantic salads every night but there has been salad. A lot of salad. So. Soup. I’m breaking up the salad and rice bowl parade with soup.

This is similar to potato soups I’ve made before but the yummy kicker on this one is the crunchy pile of – stick with me here – kale breadcrumbs! Crazy, right? They were delicious. Garlicky, crunchy, salty. They were the perfect complement to the soup. And who knows? The leftovers may find themselves gracing a salad too.

Rustic potato leek soup with crunchy kale breadcrumbs.

Rustic potato leek soup with crunchy kale breadcrumbs.

6 red potatoes, diced
2-4 leeks (mine weren’t very big so I used 4) – reserve a little thumb sized chunk of leek to blend with the breadcrumbs
2 cups cabbage, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick butter
Salt & pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dill
1 bunch kale (I used red russian kale, but any variety will do)
1-2 large clove garlic
1/4 cup parmesan
2 slices sourdough bread
Sea salt (I used infused sriracha sea salt from lordsofsalt.com for an extra kick but any coarse sea salt will work just fine.)

Cover potatoes and cabbage with water in a soup pot. Add a big pinch of salt, bring to a boil, reduce heat a bit and cook until tender. Drain off most of the water. Using a potato masher mash potato mixture (a little or a lot depending on the texture you like – I left mine pretty chunky but if you prefer it really smooth, put it in a blender and puree and then return to the pot. Add broth, cream and seasonings to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

While potatoes are cooking, sauté leeks in a pan with the butter. When soft, blend up in a blender or food processor with a little broth or cream to help it blend smoother. Add leek mixture to the pot.

Heat oven to 400˚. In a food processor, blend up reserved leek chunk, garlic, sourdough bread, kale, and a pinch of sriracha salt (or regular sea salt) until it makes coarse crumbs. Spread out on a large cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment and bake 15-20 minutes or until crunchy, stirring about every 5 minutes.

Taste the soup and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve in a bowl with a little (or big!) heap of breadcrumbs.

Serves 4-6.

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