Papoutsakia (baked stuffed eggplant little shoes)

These “little shoes” are awesome, they are named little shoes as there appearance is like classic kids shoes. Some people like to make them with no rice and lots of meat covered in bĂ©chamel and cheese, like moussaka. I like to use a little meat and rice with lots of herbs, maybe a little cheese. This can easily become vegetarian dish substituting a couple diced veggies instead of sausage meat.

Note: if you cannot find chorizo, Italian sausage will do.

Ingredients:

2 medium or large eggplant
1 cup long grain rice
2 small spicy uncooked chorizo sausages
Handful fresh dill chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
2 tomatoes diced
4 cloves garlic sliced
1 tbsp sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp grated asiago cheese

Remove the casings off the sausages and fry the meat in a pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes continuously stirring and breaking up the sausages along the way. Toss in the garlic and a couple glugs of olive oil. Stir in the rice, pepper and half of the salt, turn up the heat and add in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Toss in the herbs and tomatoes and turn heat to lowest setting, cover and steam rice for about 15 minutes until rice is al dente. Cut the eggplant in half length wise and chop off the stem. Using a spoon scoop out the inside of the eggplant and discard the seedy parts, just try to keep the eggplant meat that is less seedy and chop to a dice and add into pot of rice.

Pre-heat oven to 400*. In a large enough baking dish to hold the four eggplant halves, add a spoon of oil and arrange the eggplant face up and season generously with salt and pepper. When rice is ready pour out any remaining liquid and taste it to make sure seasoning is to your liking and if rice is undercooked don’t worry it will continue to cook in the oven. Fluff rice with a fork and add half the grated cheese, some olive oil and mix well. Stuff each eggplant half with the rice mixture and top with more cheese. Add in a little water in the bottom of baking dish, cover and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook an extra 5-10 minutes until cheese bubbles and crusts the top. When the stuffed eggplant is ready remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Best enjoyed with a greens salad and a glass of red wine.

Please comment and let me know how you made out the this recipe.

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Bruschetta Sandwich

Tomatoes are in season right now, as everyone is getting the last ones off their garden vines. Bruschetta is awesome and very good for you, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil… WOW simply amazing, sweet, acidic tomato, garlic and earthy fruity olive oil and herbs inside whole grain bread and maybe a grating of cheese. You could also throw in same mescaline mix or salad greens.

Ingredients:

2 ripe medium size tomatoes
1 garlic clove sliced
4-5 leaves fresh basil torn or chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste
3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
Couple drops balsamic vinegar (optional)
Grain bread or whole wheat buns
Grated cheese: Parmesan, mozzarella

Cut tomatoes in half and then slice or dice as to your preference, put in a bowl with remaining ingredients except for bread and cheese, mix well. Spoon tomato mixture on top of a slice of bread or in between buns open face sandwich, grate cheese on top and toast sandwiches in oven for 5 minutes.

Serving should make about 4 sandwiches

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Grilled Sardines

Fresh Sardines are hard to find, but frozen ones are available at fish markets and some grocery stores.

Ingredients:

One package frozen whole sardines, there’s usually 12 in the pack, each are about 6″ long or fresh ones if available.

For sauce:
Juice from one large lemon
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch dried chilli flakes

If using frozen fish allow to thaw.
Take the sardines and rinse in cold water, if you would like to keep the heads on that’s fine, I like to cut the heads off at the gills and discard the head.
With a sharp knife score the body of each fish 3-4 times about 1″ inch apart for each score. Place fish on one layer on a tray.
Prepare the sauce by combining all the other ingredients and mix well.
Pour half of the sauce all over the sardines and mix sardines well to coat with hands. allow sardines to marinade to 30 minutes.

Prepare BBQ for grilling by preheating for 5-10 minutes on medium to high heat. Brush grates with oil.
Slowly place each fish on grill and careful not to let flame catch on fish. Grill fish by turning once 3-4 minutes per side. Fish is ready when meat easily flakes off with touch of a fork. Once ready place fish in serving platter and drizzle remaining sauce on the sardines.

Serving combinations include:
Crusty Bread
Cheese
Olives
Beans
Red wine such as Pinot Noir

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Saganaki Sandwich

I’ve been making Saganaki cheese at home since I was about 12 years old but it never occurred to me that I could put the cheese in a sandwich until now.

Ingredients

1lb Kefalograviera cheese, you could substitute, haloumi cheese, kasseri or kefalotiri cheese. These cheeses can be found at Greek stores, Nicastro’s in Ottawa and you can actually find a cheese named saganaki already portioned out ready to fry at Sobeys.

Crusty bread or 4 kaiser buns
100gr mixed greens or baby kale or spinach
Flour
Olive oil
1 Red sweet pepper or preserved roasted red pepper
1 Tomato
Couple good pinches Greek dried oregano and freshly cracked pepper

Slice tomato in slices, heat an oven on broil and place the red pepper on a piece of foil 10cm away from the broiler or grill the pepper. Cut the cheese in 4 slices approx. 7cm square by 5mm thick. Slice bread for sandwiches or cut buns in half and brush with olive oil, lightly toast bread in broiler or grill. When pepper gets charred remove from broiler or grill and wrap in foil for a few minutes to cool. Unwrap the foil and peep off the charred skin and discard, chop the pepper in slices.
Wet the cheese with water and dust cheese with some flour. Heat a non stick frying pan on medium high heat add a tablespoon of olive oil to pan and then add the cheese and fry, do not crowd frying pan, fry two slices of cheese at a time if pan is small. After two minutes flip cheese and fry an additional two minutes, remove cheese from pan and keep warm.

Arrange the mixed greens on toasted bread and top with the fried cheese, then top with tomato slices and roasted pepper slices, sprinkle dried oregano and fresh cracked pepper on top and put the other piece of bread on top and serve.

I prefer to keep this sandwich meatless as I really want the cheese to stand out. Other ideas to include inside sandwich would be olive paste, steamed kale or Swiss chard, pesto, zucchini slices, roasted eggplant and even cucumber.
Enjoy as I did.

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