Eggplant Caponata Sandwiches

A hot vegetarian sandwich that is more flavorful than you ever could imagine! 

Eggplant Caponata Sandwiches | thepajamachef.com #summer #meatless #recipe

Eggplant… in a sandwich? Umm, is that for serious? That was Ben’s reaction, pretty much verbatim when I told him I was making these sandwiches with–you guessed it–a cache of farmer’s market goodies. Eggplant, bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, garlic, oregano, basil cooked in a rich tomato sauce. The result is an intensely flavorful sauce that is absolutely incredible on a good, thick baguette with some melty cheese. Mmmm! And oh? If you encounter any doubters when making this recipe, the smell alone should be enough to sway them. :)

Eggplant Caponata Sandwiches | thepajamachef.com #summer #meatless #recipe

Truthfully I hadn’t ever heard of eggplant caponata before finding this recipe, but it sounded kind of Italian sooo I put my librarian hat on and found out it’s a traditional Sicilian dish. It’s always made with eggplant and usually is made with a sweet and sour sauce seasoned with vinegar and olives or capers. You can serve the caponata on bread like I did, or over pasta. This made a huge batch so I served some sandwich-style, more over pasta, and some actually over rice. We eat a lot of rice in this house so it was a natural choice.

Eggplant Caponata Sandwiches | thepajamachef.com #summer #meatless #recipe

I’m not really the meatball sub type, but honestly, this reminded me of a vegetarian meatball sub. It’s hearty and tomato-y, with lots of great flavors and a hearty texture. This is definitely a great meatless dish to try if you like eggplant, or even if you want to introduce it to your family. I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed this saucy goodness [and#thatmeltycheese] for dinner for dayyys on end. I know you’ll <3 it too!

one year ago: Baked Cauli-Tots
two years ago: Quinoa Black Bean Burritos with Southwest Sauce
three years ago: Summery Squash and Chicken Lasagna
four years ago: Watermelon Coolers
five years ago: Tomato Pie

Eggplant Caponata Sandwiches

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 40 minutes
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from The Sweets Life

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed – about 4 cups
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • baguette, sliced into small pieces, to serve
  • shredded mozzarella, to serve
  • fresh basil, to serve

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot set over medium heat. When hot, add eggplant, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 10-12 minutes, until veggies are soft.

Stir in olives, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, sugar, and oregano. Taste and season again as desired. Reduce heat to low, then cover and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding a little water [1-2 tablespoons] if mixture gets too thick or sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Allow caponata to cool for about 20 minutes, then spoon onto slices of baguette, top with mozzarella, and broil until cheese melts. Top with basil and serve immediately. Caponata also freezes well, or can be served over rice or pasta.

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

This pasta is creamy and cheesy, and full of lots of summer veggies. What’s not to love?!?

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

Ahhh, pasta. If you’re like me, you probably have it at least once a week in some form or another. No matter how you fix it, pasta is always a vehicle for something delicious. Though baked pastas are my FAVE, in the summer, sometimes that’s too much. So this time, I threw in everything from my local farmer’s market and called it a day. I think the combo of mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and corn was perfect. I thought about just tossing the veggies with an olive oil or butter-based sauce, but instead decided to try for a lighter creamy sauce. After cooking the veggies, I tossed in some flour and added some milk. After letting it cook down, I added cheese and herbs. I truly wasn’t sure how it would go, and was so happy with the results! In a word, or three… Flavorful, refreshing, and satisfying. Mmm!

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

I absolutely inhaled this colorful and light pasta! It’s cheesy and creamy and super wonderful. Unlike some saucy pasta dishes, this one reheated well which was a pleasant surprise. You better believe I hoarded the leftovers and will be making this again soon. :) Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes
two years ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
three years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
four years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn, cut off the cob
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs – I used dill, basil, lemon thyme, and a tiny bit of mint
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat butter or olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and corn. Season with pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir to coat. Pour in milk and stir. Constantly stir, cooking until thick–about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

When pasta is cooked, fold pasta into sauce. Sprinkle with herbs and mozzarella. Stir until cheese melts, then season with pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, or toss in an oven safe baking dish and cook until cheese on top crisps up. I think some bread crumbs mixed with butter and lemon zest on top could be magnificent too!

Costa Rican Rice and Beans with Fried Eggs

Take an easy, frugal, staple meal up a notch with some new seasonings and a couple fried eggs. Great for dinner, lunch, OR breakfast!

Costa Rican Rice and Beans with Fried Eggs | thepajamachef.comBen and I eat rice and beans quite a bit. Usually white rice and black beans. Sometimes with a bit of butter, taco seasoning, salsa, veggies, and/or cheese. The combo varies quite a bit. It’s a great dinner that’s cheap, healthy, and fast. Win win win! Sometimes I like to mix it up though, so I’m always on the look out for new variations of this great meal. It seems every culture has their take on this meal… this is Costa Rica’s. I’ve never been there [but would love to go!] so I don’t know how authentic it is… but it is sure delicious!

Costa Rican Rice and Beans with Fried Eggs | thepajamachef.comWhat sets this version of beans and rice apart from the competition is two-fold.

  1. Instead of our usual “burrito bowl” style beans and rice mixture, after all the ingredients are prepped, everything cooks together on the stove for a little bit. This maximizes the flavor… namely the tomato-y sauce with cumin, garlic, and Worchestershire sauce [props to you if you have the authentic Salsa Lizano!]. It is so good, you guys!! This sauce makes the rice and bean mixture almost creamy, and very very flavorful.
  2. The fried egg on top. Ohhh man. Runny yolks + a creamy-esque mixture = heaven!

You’ve gotta try this! SO good. It’s not spicy or anything… just good, rich flavors. Worth the extra work for sure!

one year ago: Easy Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches
two years ago: Kale Pesto Pasta
three years ago: Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Crostini
four years ago: Brown Sugar Fruit Dip
five years ago: Butterscotch and Chocolate Yellow Cake

Costa Rican Rice and Beans with Fried Eggs

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
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from Fine Cooking

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced [about 1 cup]
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced [about 1/2 cup]
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons Salsa Lizano; more to taste [or 3 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce + a dash of molasses if you can’t find Salsa Lizano]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs [2 per person]
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Prepare rice according to package directions. You can use water or chicken/vegetable broth for the liquid, whatever you prefer. Keep covered after it is cooked.

While rice is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in cumin and cook another 30 seconds or so. Stir in tomato sauce, mixing until well incorporated. Add black beans and 1 cup of water or broth, stirring until combined. Reduce heat to medium-low then simmer until most of the liquid is reduced, about 4-5 minutes. Fold in rice and mix well, then add Salsa Lizano [or Worchestershire/molasses combo], and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Cover and reduce heat to low.

Heat another skillet over medium high heat. Grease with cooking spray, then fry eggs to desired doneness. I like mine over medium, so I crack the eggs in the hot pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 3-4 minutes until whites are set, and the edges of the yolks are just beginning to set.

To serve, place a spoonful of rice and beans mixture on a plate or bowl and top with two fried eggs. Sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy!

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous #bookclubcookbookCC

Fragrant, rich chicken and chickpea curry incorporates great flavors to make an amazing dish! Serve it over spiced couscous for a special treat. 

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous | thepajamachef.com #thebookclubcookbookCC

Happy Friday! I joined a new blogging group… the Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew. And guess what! YOU can join us. Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla organized a group of bloggers to read through some great books and make some great recipes inspired by them. We are using The Book Club Cookbook as our guide and inspiration… you can read more about the club on her blog, but here’s the gist. Each month, one blogger serves as hostess to choose a book and a recipe from the cookbook. From there, we can make the chosen recipes OR draw inspiration from the selected book to create a recipe. Camilla is our July hostess and she chose Jhumpa Lahir’s Interpreter of Maladies for our book of the month, and invited us to make curry and lassis with her. At the end of the month, you can win a copy of the cookbook so you can follow along! Go to Camilla’s blog to enter now! :)

On with the recipe though! Have you ever heard of Jhumpa Lahir’s Interpreter of Maladies? I had not, and was surprised when I picked up a copy at my local library. It’s actually a collection of short stories centering on the themes of family, home, marriage, belonging, and more. Many take place in America, but I thought some of the most interesting stories were set in India. You don’t think about adaptations to new life in your own country… this book is just lovely! The first and last stories were my favorites, but they are all good. Have you read this book before? If not, you should pick it up! I highly recommend it.

Food is an integral part to all of the stories, and nearly each one mentioned curry! An Indian classic for sure, with as many variations as there are people. One of the recipes Camilla chose for us to make this month was a hard boiled egg curry. It sounds SO interesting. But Ben hates hard boiled eggs with a passion, so that’s a no go for us [and I don’t think I could eat a whole batch alone]. Instead, chicken curry it is!

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous | thepajamachef.com #thebookclubcookbookCC

This is one of my very favorite curry recipes, and actually is the one that made me love Indian food! Ben and I have made this recipe a handful time over the past few years… it is absolutely delightful each time! Every bite is rich and flavorful, and your kitchen will smell absolutely wonderful while you’re cooking. Ginger! Garlic! Garam masala! Mmm, mmm, mmm. The tomato and coconut based curry sauce is fabulous over the chicken and chickpeas and plump, juicy raisins… and the flavors are magnified since it’s not just served over regular ‘ole rice, but instead over a spiced couscous that is just bursting with more raisins and rich spices. Yes, it’s a lengthy recipe with quite a few ingredients… BUT it is oh-so-good. A great dish for company, a great dish to make on a relaxing night at home. It’s just as fantastic as anything you could get at a restaurant, but easy to make at home with accessible ingredients too. Make it this weekend! :) Enjoy!

Indian Spiced Peas | thepajamachef.com

And oh! If you’re looking for an easy side dish to serve with this, try these easy Indian-spiced peas. No real recipe… just mix together a teaspoon or two of coconut oil, a 10 ounce bag of frozen peas, and a teaspoon each of curry powder and garam masala in a skillet. Cook over low heat until hot, then mix in a about a 1/4 cup of coconut flakes. Ahhhmazing! Next time I might toast the coconut to make it even better. Yum!

one year ago: Ginger Ice Cream
two years ago: Mom’s Potato Salad

three years ago: Mediterranean Feta Dip
four years ago: Lemon Crinkle Cookies
five years ago: Big Thumbs Up Bite Size Soft Pretzels –> yes! my blog is FIVE! :)

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 60 minutes
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from Jenna’s Everything Blog – go to either post for great step by step photos if that’s your thing!

Ingredients:

for curry

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder [I used a sweet curry powder]
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 serrano chili, minced – remove seeds to reduce heat… or not, your call
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 – 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts [I’ve also used chicken thighs]
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

for couscous

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend [I forget what size it is…about 18 or 20 ounces I think] — can also substitute 1 pound Israeli couscous plus a couple tablespoons quinoa and orzo — or an equivalent amount of rice [I’ve made it all three ways!!]

Directions:

Set a small skillet over medium heat. Pour in curry powder and garam masala, then stir constantly for about 1-2 minutes to toast spices, until fragrant. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

In a Dutch oven or other large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. When hot, add onions and season with salt. Stirring occasionally, cook for about 15 minutes until onions are browned and caramelized. If you have you more time, cook the onions on medium-low heat for a longer amount of time to caramelize them more. But either way works!

After onions are cooked to your liking, add garlic, ginger, and chili pepper. Stir and cook for about a minute, then add in toasted spices and tomato paste. Pour in the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes, stirring to mix everything up. Add chickpeas, chicken, and raisins. Make sure the chicken is submerged as much as possible. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until chicken is just about done.

Meanwhile, prepare couscous while chicken is cooking.

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until soft. Stir in garam masala, cooking for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chicken broth, butter, and raisins. Stir and bring to a boil. Add couscous [or other grain], bring to a boil again, and cook for about 10-15 minutes until fully cooked. Liquid should be absorbed but exact time depends on what grains you use. Season to taste with salt or additional garam masala then set aside to serve with curry.

When chicken is fully cooked, remove to cutting board and chop it up into bite-sized pieces. If the chicken isn’t fully cooked, it will finish cooking in the sauce.

Return chicken to pot, then stir in coconut milk and peas [if using]. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in half of the cilantro.

Serve curry over couscous, with additional cilantro on top. Enjoy!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

A luscious, creamy baked pasta with crisp bacon, succulent fresh corn, a pop of sweet blueberries, and a crunchy topping made out of a surprise ingredient. Intrigued now?

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comAt my house, you can’t go wrong with baked pasta. Ben and I can eat an embarrassingly large portion of baked pasta at a single meal. Then after it’s wrapped up for the fridge, we are constantly opening it up and using a fork [or our fingers, sorry Mom] for another bite. There’s just something about baked pasta. From looking at the title of this recipe, Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta, you’ve probably surmised that there’s at least something a little unusual with this pasta dish. Bacon and ricotta… pretty standard fare for Italian food. Blueberries? Now that’s a little odd, but it’s summer so sometimes berries creep into weird places. But then you look at that photo and you’re like, wait… is that oats? On pasta? Ummm, what’s going on? Well, that my friends, is granola. Granola?!?! Well, yes. That’s what my husband said too. Ha!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comI developed this recipe as my entry in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. When I first received the package of Bluesberry Granola I planned to use it in a breakfast dish, such as french toast or breakfast quesadillas, or the like. But it’s a contest, and I figured everyone would do that. So I did something different! And guess what? It worked!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comThe sweetness of the blueberry, almond, and coconut granola [which is SO delicious, btw] is cut by the salty bacon, creamy ricotta, and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese mixed into the topping. I also mixed in some fresh sweet corn since I can’t get enough of that in the summertime, and a handful of herbs from my garden. Perfection on a plate! This isn’t your average pasta dish… it’s even better! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

one year ago: Coffee Blondies
two years ago: Pineapple Cream Pie
three years ago: Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins
four years ago: Linda’s Caramel Ritz Bits Crackers

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pasta* [I used Trottole, a curly, thick, corkscrew shape but any small pasta would do]
  • *1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • a small handful of fresh basil, minced
  • a small handful of fresh lemon thyme
  • white pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Bluesberry Granola – from Golden Girl Granola
  • 5-6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch round casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Chop when cool.

Then, stir together ricotta cheese, corn, blueberries, rosemary, basil, and lemon thyme until combined. [If you don’t have these herbs, substitute about 1/4 cup fresh herbs of choice, or ~1 teaspoon dried herbs.] Season with white pepper and sea salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Then add egg and bacon and stir again.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Fold pasta into ricotta mixture, adding reserved pasta water in 1/4 cup increments until sauce evenly coats pasta. Spoon pasta into prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, gently crush granola with the back of a wooden spoon until just broken down. Mix in Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle mixture over pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: Golden Girl Granola sent me one bag of granola of my choice for the purposes of participation in this recipe challenge. I received no further compensation and was not asked or paid to publish positive comments. Please check them out on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find their products in various stores on the east coast. Thank you for the chance to try your granola!