Roast eggplant and tomato pasta

“I seem to be making a lot of vegetarian dishes lately.  It’s forced me to come up with new recipes to make things interesting.  One of my favourite ingredients is eggplant.  It’s also the only thing I haven’t been able to kill in my garden and have had a plentiful supply for months.  You can use it in eggplant parmigiana, baba ganoush and vegetarian lasagne but I also love roasting it and stirring it through a pesto pasta.  Having just bought a Thermomix (Instructions included) I decided to make an easy tomato sauce then stir the roast eggplant and a few other ingredients through.  It was an instant favourite at our house and will satisfy those pesky vegetarians when they drop over.  Enjoy!”

(Photo by Gary Donald Corbett)

Ingredients

  • 700g eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • Flaked sea salt
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 60g grated parmesan cheese
  • 60g sour cream
  • 40g roasted pine nuts
  • 60g sundries tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • Shaved parmesan
Method
  1. Cup the eggplant into 1.5cm cubes and place on a baking tray covered with baking paper.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.  Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 30 minutes or until slightly browned.  Flipping the eggplant once during this time helps get an even colour.
  2. Add the spaghetti to a medium saucepan of salted boiling water and cook until al dente.  Drain when cooked.
  3. Cut the sundries tomatoes into strips and roughly shred the basil leaves. Put aside with the roasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan.
  4. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in a medium saucepan with a small amount of olive oil until translucent.
  5. Add the tomatoes, Dijon mustard and sugar to the onions and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. While the sauce is still hot add the parmesan cheese, then using a stab blender, blend the mixture until you get a smooth sauce.  Just before serving add the sour cream and stir through the sauce.
  7. Drain the pasta and in a large bowl stir through the sauce, roasted eggplant, sundries tomato strips and half the basil leaves.
  8. Once served into pasta bowls sprinkle on the pine nuts, remaining basil and shaved parmesan.

Thermomix method 

  1. Cup the eggplant into 1.5cm cubes and place on a baking tray covered with baking paper.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.  Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 30 minutes or until slightly browned.  Flipping the eggplant once during this time helps get an even colour.
  2. Add the spaghetti to a medium saucepan of salted boiling water and cook until al dente.  Drain when cooked.
  3. Cut the sundries tomatoes into strips and roughly shred the basil leaves. Put aside with the roasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan.
  4. Add onion and garlic to Thermomix bowl and process on speed 4/3 seconds
  5. Wipe down the bowl with a spatula then add 2 tbsp olive oil and cook for 6 minutes/100 degrees/speed 0.5
  6. Add tinned tomatoes, Dijon mustard and sugar and cook for 6 minutes/100 degrees/speed 0.5
  7. Add parmesan cheese and sour cream then blend 20 seconds/ speed 7
  8. Drain the pasta and in a large bowl stir through the sauce, roasted eggplant, sundries tomato strips and half the basil leaves.
  9. Once served into pasta bowls sprinkle on the pine nuts, remaining basil and shaved parmesan.

 

Marian’s Moroccan Chicken

“I’ve got to thank my friend Marian for this recipe.  She made it for me years ago and ever since I’ve had it on my stand-by list for quick and easy dinners.  It even features on my Moroccan catering menu alongside slow-cooked beef with dates and orange almond cake.  The best thing about this dish is the combination of flavours and textures.  You get the sweet and sour tang from the vinegar and sugar and the caramelised goodness of the chicken with the salty hit from the capers and the olives.  Whoops, just drooled on the keyboard thinking about it!  Of course as an avid cook I couldn’t quite leave the recipe alone so I’ve tweaked it ever so slightly (Sorry Marian!).  You may also notice that this recipe feeds quite a few (Christmas party catering!) so just cut the ingredients in half if you want, or make huge amounts and eat as leftovers.  I’ve paired it with a roast pumpkin cous cous salad.  Enjoy!”

Ingredients

  • 2kg chicken thighs
  • 500g mushrooms
  • 1 red onion
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 400g pitted prunes
  • 400g dried apricots
  • 300g pitted olives
  • 150g capers
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups light olive oil
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 tbsn dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Quarter the chicken thighs and mushrooms and place in a large container.
  2. Finely slice the onion into rings and slice the garlic.  Add to the chicken.
  3. Add the prunes, apricots, olives, capers and bay leaves.
  4. Combine the vinegars, oil and wine with the sugar and stir into the chicken mixture.
  5. Finally add the oregano, salt and pepper and refrigerate covered for 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Place mixture in an baking dish and cook at 200 degrees c for 40-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.  Don’t worry if some of the fruit and chicken caramelises (burns!) during the cooking process, this adds to the flavour.

Roast pumpkin and cous cous salad

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pumpkin
  • 2 tbsn ras e hanout (Moroccan spice)
  • 1 cup cous cous
  • 1/2 cup currents
  • 150g pine nuts
  • 1 red onion
  • Fresh coriander
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Cut the pumpkin into 1cm cubes. Coat in olive oil and Ras e hanout and bake in a moderate oven until cooked.  Allow to cool.
  2. Place cous cous in a sealed container and cover with boiling water.  Place the lid on and let sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir with a fork to separate the grains.
  4. In a dry pan roast the pine nuts until they start to turn golden then put in a bowl.
  5. Finely dice the red onion and coriander and add to the cous cous with the other ingredients.
  6. Top with roast pumpkin and some more coriander.

 

Healthy Stuffed Chicken Breast

“As part of my push to lose weight and get fit and healthy I’ve been redesigning some of my favourite recipes with less fattening ingredients.  Obviously I want to do this without losing the flavour hit that comes with high fat foods and cooking techniques so I can confuse my taste-buds into thinking they’re still being spoilt.   I have a recipe from my classical music range called “Nutcracker Chicken”.  It consists of a chicken breast that’s been filled with a combination of goats cheese, blue vein and pistachios, coated in macadamia and panko crumbs, then fried and baked.  I serve it with roast capsicum sauce, roast potatoes, asparagus spears and honeyed pine nuts.  YUM!  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!  …but for now here is a much healthier alternative that packs a huge amount of flavour in the sauce and chicken filling.  Enjoy!”

Stuffed chicken breast ingredients

  • 1 leek
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 8 mushrooms
  • 150g sun-dried tomatoes
  • Splash of white wine
  • zest and juice from half a lemon
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 12 slices of prosciutto
  1. Clean the leek then quarter and dice.  Add to the pan with a small amount of olive oil.  Cook until leeks have softened slightly.
  2. Finely dice the garlic and add to the pan for a few minutes.
  3. Dice the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and add to the pan with the white wine.
  4. When liquid has reduced to almost nothing remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts and diced basil.  Set aside to cool.
  5. Cut a cavity in the chicken breast and put stuffing inside.
  6. Wrap 2 slices of prosciutto around chicken to keep the stuffing in and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  7. Heat a small amount of light olive oil in a pan and on medium heat cook the chicken on each side until prosciutto has cooked (about 1 minute per side)
  8. Transfer to a baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees c or until chicken is cooked all the way through.

Roast Tomato and Capsicum Sauce

  • 2 red capsicums
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • Light olive oli
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 tbsp kecap manis
  1. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove stem end.
  2. Cut capsicums into quarters and remove stem ends and seeds.
  3. Peel and quarter onion.
  4. Place all in a roasting dish and drizzle with light olive oil and some salt
  5. Roast for 30 minutes in a 220 degree c oven or until capsicum skins start to blacken.
  6. Let cool slightly and transfer to a blender adding the kecap manis.  Don’t throw out any of the remaining juices from the pan as you will use them later!
  7. Blend on high until smooth.  Season to taste. (If you want a smoother sauce pass the mixture through a drum sieve)

Vegetables

  • 4 carrots
  • 12 asparagus spears
  1. Peel and cut carrots into battens and transfer to the roasting dish you cooked the tomatoes in and coat with the juices.  Add a little more olive oil and salt in needed.
  2. Bake in a 200 degree c oven for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Cut asparagus into thirds and steam until cooked.

Plating up the dish

  1. Gently reheat the sauce and put a generous smear on the plate.
  2. Cut the chicken breast into 3 rounds and lay onto of the sauce (You can save the off-cuts for lunch tomorrow!)
  3. Put a pile of asparagus and carrots on the plate and garnish with 2 basil leaves.