Eggplant and Garbanzos

Happy New Year, wherever in the world you might be this day! Start the year off with this wonderful vegan dish of eggplant and garbanzos (sometimes known as chick peas). I am not a fan of ratatouille, so this came as a surprise from Greece! It seems like a lot of ingredients,but many of them are flavourful spices which really enhance the taste of the dish. Hope you will enjoy it!

Eggplant and Garbanzos Greek Style

1.5 lb eggplant, cut into cubes

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced

1 carrot, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 dry bay leaves

1 to 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika OR smoked paprika

1 tsp organic ground coriander

1 tsp dry oregano

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 28-oz can chopped tomato

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, reserve the canning liquid

Fresh herbs such as parsley and mint for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a large bowl or directly over your sink, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow eggplant to “sweat out” any bitterness. Rinse with water and pat dry.

3. In a large braiser, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, bay leaf, spices, and a dash of salt. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.

4. Now add eggplant, chopped tomato, chickpeas, and reserved chickpea liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Stir often. Remove from stove top, cover and transfer to oven.

6. Cook in oven for 45 minutes until eggplant is fully cooked through to very tender. (While eggplant is braising, be sure to check once or twice to see if more liquid is needed. If so, remove from oven briefly and stir in about 1/2 cup of water at a time.)

7. When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and add a generous drizzle of EVOO, garnish with fresh herbs (parsley or mint). Serve hot or at room temperature with a side of Greek yogurt or even Tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Broccoli Casserole from Scratch!

Must be the cold season down here as I realize I am posting another casserole. I have always enjoyed broccoli casserole but was never quite happy with the mushroom soup. Et voila? Pinterest to the rescue. Served this to company with a lite salad and baked potatoes. All agreed it was really good. Hope you will try it…Easter is coming and this would be great for a buffet.

Broccoli Casserole From Scratch
Serves: 8 servings

Made completely from scratch, this broccoli casserole is filled with fresh broccoli, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and a homemade cream sauce. A buttery, cheesy breadcrumb topping adds a crispy finishing touch to this classic dish.
Ingredients
• 2 ½ lbs. broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
• 6 tbsp. butter, divided
• 1 cup finely chopped button mushrooms
• ¼ cup flour
• 1 cup milk (whole or 2% preferred)
• ½ cup half-n-half (I omitted with no appreciable difference)
• ½ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• ½ cup Greek yogurt
• 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese, divided ( I used old white cheddar)
• 1 ¼ cups whole-wheat breadcrumbs (homemade* or store-bought), divided
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add broccoli and boil for 4 minutes. Transfer to a colander, rinse with cold water, and drain. Place broccoli in a large bowl.
3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl with the broccoli.
4. In the same saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds. Whisk in the milk and half-n-half. Bring to a low simmer and continue to whisk constantly until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt.
5. Pour sauce into the bowl with the broccoli and mushrooms. Add the onion, egg, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, and ½ cup of the breadcrumbs. Stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
6. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir into the remaining ¾ cup breadcrumbs. Stir in the remaining ½ cup cheddar. Sprinkle breadcrumb topping over the casserole.
7. Bake for 45 minutes, until filling is hot and bubbly. Check after 30 minutes and cover with foil if topping is browning too quickly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Acknowledgments to Kristine’s Kitchen – kristineskitchenblog.com