Main Dishes, Recipes, Sandwiches and Wraps

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 ❤ 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
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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.

Pasta, Recipes, Sides

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

So, I used to post once a month on a blog called Today’s Housewife. In fall 2012, the group decided together to stop posting due the busyness of life and families and such. Though sad, I enjoyed being part of the group. As of early January, the blog was officially taken down. But I don’t want to lose my recipes, so periodically I will be reposting them on here. Enjoy!

~

from April 14, 2011… this salad is delicious and I need to make it again!

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad | thepajamachef.com

My husband and I each take our lunches with us almost everyday, him to work and me to grad school. Not only is it less expensive to pack lunches, but it’s a lot healthier (and tastier) than eating out as long as you pack the right things. I discovered early on in our marriage that the best way to ensure that we each had delicious, filling lunches that would rival anything at a restaurant was to spend some time in advance doing some lunch preparation. So I started spending an hour or so every Sunday after church prepping our lunchtime vegetables and making a grab-and-go main course option. Then, every week night while we’re cooking dinner or cleaning up, we assemble our lunches for the next day. Having components in the fridge ready to go makes it a snap!

Pasta salads are one of my top choices for packed lunches as they are good served hot or cold, are customizable, and can be quite filling depending on the ingredients. I love that I can make a big batch to eat from throughout the week. This Greek-inspired dish was born out of the need to finish some random ingredients taking up space in my fridge such as a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives that I used in a recent dinner, Pantry Pasta for Two. Each bite is a little different, and the sweet tang of lemon and tomatoes coupled with the bite of olives and the rich flavor of feta cheese is incredible. You’ll have to try it to believe it, but one bite and you’ll be hooked. It’s like a trip to the Greek Isles without every leaving your lunchbox! Not that I’ve ever been… (hint, hint husband!) I’m not sure this is a super kid-friendly dish depending on picky eaters’ palates, but I think it’d be great for girls’ lunches or family gatherings. Enjoy!
three years ago: The Best Panini Ever
four years ago: Maple Pecan Pear Scones

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
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adapted from Allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup orzo pasta, uncooked (or any small pasta)
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used the oil that my tomatoes were packed in for extra flava!)
  • zest of 1 large lemon (maybe a couple tablespoons?)
  • juice of 1 large lemon (perhaps 1/4-1/3 cup?)
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/3 cup spinach leaves, torn and packed
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pasta water, reserved
Directions:
Prepare orzo according to package directions. Before draining, be sure to reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. If you’re like me and don’t have a fine strainer, place a (unused) coffee filter inside your regular strainer. Then drain your pasta carefully so as not to tear the coffee filter and spoon the pasta into a medium bowl. Immediately stir in sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, olives, lemon zest, spinach, and parsley. Mix gently to combine, then add lemon juice. Add feta cheese after a minute or so to let the pasta cool off (unless you don’t mind melted feta cheese). If needed, incorporate a little pasta water to make sure everything is fully coated, especially if you’ll be storing the salad for more than a day, as the sauce tends to be absorbed by the noodles over time. I used about 2-3 teaspoons of water. Season with black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes

Crockpot Saucy Italian Chicken

I have a love-hate relationship with my crockpot. On the one hand, it is might convenient for whipping up a delicious dinner in a flash, with little to no effort on my part. On the other hand, leaving a hot appliance [yes, even on the low setting it gets h-o-t] on all day on a kitchen counter within easy reach of the cat makes me nervous. I have a fear of fire and just get concerned. Using the crockpot also seems like an easy out sometimes, since it’s not “real” cooking. But alas. Sometimes, I put my fears to rest and pull out the crockpot for, dare I say, a quick and easy dinner.

crockpot saucy italian chicken via thepajamachef.com | an easy chicken slow cooker meal BURSTING with italian flavors in a tomato sauce

My Crockpot Saucy Italian Chicken, despite how the taste may make you believe, was not the work of hours slaving away in the kitchen, pouring over complicated recipes. Rather, it was mixing pantry ingredients, spices, herbs, and chicken in the crockpot and hoping for the best. And boy–was it the best! I didn’t exactly use a specific recipe. I had some chicken thighs that I had previously frozen that needed to be used up, so I googled “chicken thigh crockpot recipes.” Problem was, many of those recipes used things like powdered onion soup mix, Italian dressing, and/or other packaged seasoning mixes that I certainly did not keep on hand, as the recipe creator assumed everyone did.

So, I thought about the flavors I was looking for and decided to wing it. The result was a flavorful blend of Italian-seasoned chicken simmering all day in a tomato sauce with olives, peppers, and onions. Right before dinnertime, cook up some noodles or rice for serving. You’ll know it’s time to do this when the smell is just so intoxicating that it gets to you and causes you to open the lid and take a big spoonful [even though you aren’t really supposed to open the lid of a crockpot early]. At this point, the chicken will be so tender that it falls apart with the touch of a spoon. The smell alone should be enough to get the family to the dinner table, so don’t hesitate. Make this today!

Crockpot Saucy Italian Chicken
printable version

Ingredients:

  • 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • prepared pasta or rice, for serving
  • parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:

Place tomatoes in a large crockpot. Using a dinner knife, cut each tomato in half. Add tomato paste, olives, pepper, onion, garlic, and herbs/spices. Stir to combine. Lay chicken out evenly over tomato mixture and stir to coat. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Serve over pasta or rice.

Time: maximum of 8 hours and 15 minutes [15 minutes active]

Yield: 8 generous servings.

Main Dishes, Pasta, Recipes

Pantry Pasta for Two

compression socks
Hanging out in the cool compression socks on Saturday! These things work!

On Saturday, I ran 20 miles in the pouring rain and thunderstorm as part of my training for the Cleveland Marathon. [As the worst part of the storm hit, I decided to call it a day and finish up the last 2.5 miles on the treadmill.] I know I haven’t talked about it very much on the blog, but running and school have pretty much consumed most of my free time since January. I am so ready for this semester to be over with, and I can’t wait for my marathon to get here so I can see what I can do! Last weekend I ran a local half marathon in 1:39:32, which is a nearly 10 minute PR… so I have high hopes for the marathon! But aside from all of that… I’ve just been really busy and really tired lately, which is why posting has been down.  I hope to remedy that starting in May.

pantry pasta
plate of deliciousness

Moving on to yummy things… I made this pasta dish a few weeks ago [before my first 20 mile run this training cycle, actually] and was wowed beyond belief. I know the The Pioneer Woman can cook, but this was absolutely phenomenal. I was a brave little girl and picked up some Kalamata olives especially for the occasion [I am not an olive fan] and Ben was a brave boy and faced his arch-nemesis: the red onion. Results? Bravery is awesome! What we loved about this simple dish was the pop of each flavor. The sauce kept the best attributes of each component [onion, garlic, tomatoes, olives, wine] without letting any one item overwhelm and overpower the others. Each bite was flavorful and fresh, without the addition of a million herbs or vegetables. I love those things, but sometimes basic is best. One of the greatest parts of this dish is that I think it’s totally customizable. Leave out the chicken if you’re a vegetarian, swap the chicken for shrimp or steak. Use chicken or vegetable broth if wine isn’t your thing. The possibilities are endless! Plus… this totally makes more than enough for two. I had leftovers after my run and was fully satisfied!

Pantry Pasta for Two [from The Pioneer Woman]

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can [14.5 ounce] diced tomatoes with juice [salt free]
  • ⅓ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cups white wine
  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • ½ pounds linguine

Directions:

Bring a large stockpot to boil and then prepare linguine according to package directions. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to soften. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Stir in tomatoes with juice and olives until combined. Cook for an additional minute. Pour in wine and simmer, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a separate skillet. Season chicken with pepper and then cook on both sides until golden brown and cooked through.

Arrange cooked linguine on a platter or large bowl. Spoon 3/4 of the sauce over the pasta. Place chicken on top, then spoon the rest of the sauce on top of the chicken. Sprinkle on grated Parmesan or Asiago and serve immediately.

Note:

Feel free to play around with this recipe. Swap chicken for shrimp or steak, or leave out altogether. Use broth instead of wine. The possibilities are endless!

Click here for the printable version: Pantry Pasta for Two