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!

#HotSummerEats: Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad, Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas, and Some Reviews!

Today is the last day of #HotSummerEats! And because Ben and I spent the day painting our kitchen instead of blogging, I didn’t get part of this post up for Sunday like I planned. So to celebrate Monday, I have not just one but TWO recipes for you, plus reviews of other products from our wonderful #HotSummerEats sponsors. Ready? Let’s go!

Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

Inside door number one we have this fabulous lentil and couscous salad! I love having recipes like this on hand to make that I can grab out of the fridge for lunches at work all week long. It’s truthfully been awhile since I’ve cooked couscous and when I first tasted this salad yesterday I wondered why the hiatus? Israeli couscous is so good!! It’s almost pasta, but not quite, so it pairs so well with lentils and any other veggies you want to throw in. This time, I used red and yellow bell peppers and some sun-dried tomatoes. Normally when I make salads like this, I make a vinaigrette as the sauce, but this time I took the easy way out and used this Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds. You can WIN this in our #HotSummerEats giveaway, but you gotta act fast since it ends today! I don’t usually buy salad dressings because vinaigrettes are super easy to make, but sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the work for you… especially when they use normal ingredients that you’d find in your pantry too! This vinaigrette is so fresh and adds a fun, light tomato flair to my lentil and couscous salad. If you can’t get this vinaigrette locally [or can’t wait until your online order arrives], you can use your favorite vinaigrette instead. :) I’m so glad I got to try this Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette! It’s flavorful, fresh, and perfect for anything from salads to meat marinades. Amazing!

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

The next recipe I have to share with you involves black beans, barbecue sauce, and cheese. Now, that combo might seem a little weird. I mean… black beans and cheese I get, but barbecue sauce and black beans? Barbecue sauce and cheese? Just try it! It’s so good! But first the back story. Whenever I get home late from work or Bible study or anywhere really and need some dinner, quesadillas are my go-to… one of two kinds. Banana, peanut butter, and chocolate [arguably NOT the healthiest choice, I know… but delicious!] or black beans and cheese. I always have those ingredients on hand so it’s easy, filling, and delicious. Usually to season my bean and cheese quesadilla, I turn to salsa or taco seasoning. But since I live in Nashville and see people put barbecue sauce on anything and everything, I wondered how it would taste on beans. Like baked beans, kinda. Even though I don’t like baked beans…

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

I received Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce from Voodoo Chef for #HotSummerEats and decided to try it out on a recent weeknight. Man! The barbecue sauce/black bean combo is great! It’s just like chicken, except not. Haha, I’m so eloquent right now. But really, this barbecue sauce is wonderful. It’s mustard based–sweet and tangy, with just a pinch of heat. I could eat that stuff by the spoonful, it’s that good. Just like I said with the vinaigrette, you SHOULD get it [or win it I hope!] but if you can’t feel free to sub regular barbecue sauce + mustard to make this quesadilla. This combo is where it’s at! :)

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.comMan, I’ve already shared two great recipes. But now I have a few product reviews for you so keep on reading. :) I got to try Caribeque‘s Island Thyme spice rub. Ben was cooking the night we tried it, and he rubbed it on a pork tenderloin, then added some olive oil and panko bread crumbs and baked it until it was cooked through. WOW was this good! Seriously the best pork I’ve ever had. If it wasn’t raining I would have gotten some better pictures.

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

The Island Thyme was tangy and full of lots of herbs. It had a little kick but not too much… made me feel like I was at a Caribbean restaurant instead of my own kitchen. :) I think it would also be wonderful on some roasted veggies. :) We enjoyed some dill and butter green beans and some sweet potato fries with the pork. I dipped my sweet potato fries in my new favorite ketchup… Chai Curry Chup by Intensity Academy. I know chai seasoning + ketchup + curry sounds weird, but it’s a totally addictive blend of sweet and hot and normal ketchup. It’s very hard to describe but it’s the best thing ever. Seriously the best product I tried as part of #HotSummerEats. Everything was good but this was phenomenal! On burger night a few weeks ago, I mixed the Chai Curry Chup with mayo as a burger topping and that was great too.

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

Last but not least I want to tell you about the unique line of salad dressings from T.Lish. So far I have only sampled one of the three I was sent, and I want to eat salad for every meal just to enjoy the sweet garlic dressing!

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

This dressing tastes like something I’d make in my own kitchen–no preservatives, nothing fake. It’s just a really good salad dressing made with quality ingredients. Some of the other #HotSummerEats bloggers have used these dressings for pasta salad or marinades–find all the recipes here! I have plans to use the Asian Sesame in stir fry but it just hasn’t happened yet. Will report back when it does! :) My only complaint with this salad dressing is that it makes a mess when pouring it. Maybe we just got a bad bottle, but it did spill down the side quite a bit. That happens with my own dressings too, so no worries!

If you made it this far, you deserve a reward… so here are the recipes! :) :) Ha! Enjoy! Thanks for reading along with #HotSummerEats and thanks to Camilla for organizing and hosting this great event. Most of all, thank you to all our sponsors! You have helped make the event spicy, flavorful, and fun! I always LOVE getting to try new foods and finding new companies to support [and enjoy]. Hope you enjoyed it as well and be sure to enter the giveaway now!

Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, diced small
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced small [drained if water/oil packed]
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped [I used dill, rosemary, and lemon thyme]
  • 1/3 cup Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds [or another salad dressing of choice, or a mixture of pureed tomatoes, oil, vinegar, and herbs]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, then add lentils and cook for 10 minutes. Add couscous and cook another 10 minutes or so, until lentils are cooked through–soft but not mushy, and couscous is cooked to al dente. Drain lentils and couscous and place in a medium bowl. Toss with peppers, tomatoes, and herbs. Drizzle vinaigrette over top, tossing until combined. Season with pepper and serve with Parmesan.

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers, diced small
  • 1/4 cup Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce from Voodoo Chef [or 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce + 1 tablespoon of your favorite mustard]

Directions:

Heat a large skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter, then place one tortilla on the pan. Add half the cheese and allow to melt.

In a small bowl, stir together black beans, bell peppers, and barbecue sauce. Heat until warm in the microwave, about 45 seconds. Add half of mixture on top of cheese–just one side of the tortilla for easy folding.

When cheese has melted and tortilla is crispy to your liking, fold and transfer to plate. Repeat with additional ingredients, then serve, sliced, with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.

Check out other #HotSummerEats recipes at the link below:

Disclaimer: Thank you to Caribeque, Intensity Academy, Out of the Weeds, T.Lish, and Voodoo Chef for providing samples and product to use for#HotSummerEats recipes without additional compensation. I was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. Please check out Caribeque on Facebook here or here, Twitter, and Instagram here and here to learn more. Please check out Intensity Academy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out Out of the Weeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out T.Lish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out Voodoo Chef on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.

#HotSummerEats: Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese

An easy, creamy baked macaroni and cheese with corn and tomatoes… and a kick of Southwestern flair!

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

Welcome to day 1 of #HotSummerEats! Don’t forget to read all about the event and check out the giveaway here. There are lots of great items up for grabs and I’d love for my readers to win. :) </end plug> When I first started thinking about the concept of hot summer eats, barbecue foods were the first to come to mind. And thanks to the sweet lady who served as our cook in my sorority house in college [shout out to RV!], when I hear barbecue, I also think “mac and cheese.” She’d always serve BBQ chicken with mac and cheese, and that combo is fabulous!

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

There are several mac and cheese recipes that I love–a stovetop version and a baked version–but both can be kind of fussy and time consuming. In the summer, especially when preparing food for a party or barbecue, speed is imperative. So when I found a recipe for a baked mac and cheese dish that used sour cream and shredded cheese for the sauce, I was pumped! That is SO easy and sounded fabulous. I also stirred in some of my kitchen staples–canned tomatoes and frozen corn–to kick up this dish a notch.

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

For flavors, I used some Gourmet Garden stir-in pastes: cilantro and chili pepper. I’ve used these so much in the past and am so glad to say that they’re a sponsor of #HotSummerEats! They’re so easy and convenient to use, and add a ton of flavor in one easy package! The result? This mac and cheese was super cheesy, super flavorful, and super delicious! The easy sauce was just as tasty as some of its more fussy counterparts, though you do have to give it a good stir after baking to evenly distribute to cheese. Small problems though, when this dish is so good! I hope you love it as much as we do. :)

one year ago: Black Bean and Rice Soup
four years ago: Lemony Kale Pasta

Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 60 minutes
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adapted from Good Cheap Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta
  • 8 ounces Jalapeno Light Cheddar Cheese, cut into chunks [I used Cabot; a pepperjack would also work]
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded – divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 – 10 ounce can diced tomato and green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup corn, from an ear of cooked corn or frozen works too
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro Paste – from Gourmet Garden [or about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro]
  • 2 tablespoons Chili Pepper Paste – from Gourmet Garden  [or other spice like red pepper flakes or hot sauce, to taste]
  • Lightly Dried Cilantro – from Gourmet Garden, for topping [or chopped fresh cilantro]

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees while a large pot of water comes to a boil. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta until just under al dente, since it will cook further in the oven. In a large bowl, stir together Jalapeno cheese, half of the shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, corn, cilantro, and chili pepper paste.

When pasta is done, drain and add pasta to the sauce in the bowl. Stir together to combine, then transfer to the baking dish. Note: there will not be tons of extra sauce, just enough to coat the noodles. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Stir pasta and sauce together in baking dish to recombine and then serve with additional cilantro.

For more #HotSummerEats recipes, click the link below:

Disclaimer: Thank you to Gourmet Garden for providing samples and product to use for#HotSummerEats recipes without additional compensation. I was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. Please check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for more information on their products.

 

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes

Cheesy chicken pasta with tangy and sweet sundried tomatoes.. this is pretty much my new favorite Italian dish! 

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes| a creamy, flavorful weeknight pasta dish that's fancy enough for company! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out how to tell you about this pasta, but it’s just so hard. It’s just so hard because it’s just so good! I mean, just look at the ingredients. What’s not to love? Cheese, chicken, tomatoes, pasta, half and half… simple, flavorful ingredients that always taste good–well, now they taste great together!

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes| a creamy, flavorful weeknight pasta dish that's fancy enough for company! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

Truly, this pasta is the whole shebang… the whole package… everything you could ever love or want or need–and more! Besides being filled with delicious ingredients, it’s SO easy to make that it’s almost foolproof. If you can boil water you can make this delicious dish. I promise! Please make this creamy, cheesy, carby delight today. You won’t regret it! :)

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes| a creamy, flavorful weeknight pasta dish that's fancy enough for company! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.com

one year ago: Chocolate Baked Oatmeal
two years ago: Club Soda Waffles
three years ago: Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette 
four years ago: Salsas for Cinco de Mayo

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 35 minutes
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from Julia’s Album

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ounces sundried tomatoes, either packed in oil or dried like the ones from Trader Joe’s, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oil [drained from tomatoes or extra virgin olive oil + some Italian seasoning]
  • 1 pound chicken, sliced into thin, bite-sized pieces
  • paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
  • 8 ounces small-medium pasta [I used campanelle, but rotini or penne would be great]
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil [or more fresh basil]
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2-1 cup reserved pasta water

Directions:

If using sundried tomatoes in oil, drain oil and use 2 tablespoons for the first step. If not, disregard and use extra virgin olive oil plus a bit of Italian seasoning.

Set a large pot of water to boil for pasta and prepare according to package directions, reserving about 1 cup cooking water when finished.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat oil until glistening. Add chicken, then season with paprika on top side. Cook for one minute, then flip and season the other side with paprika. Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomatoes and garlic. Continue cooking for about 3-4 minutes until chicken is nearly fully cooked. Add half and half to the skillet and bring to a gentle boil. Then stir in cheese, continuing to stir until all cheese melts.

By this point, the pasta should be about done. Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of cooking water.

Add about 1/2 cup of pasta water to chicken and sauce mixture in the skillet. Stir to incorporate, then season with basil and red pepper flakes. Taste and add more seasoning if desired, then fold in cooked pasta. Stir together well and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, then serve and enjoy!