Pasta with Eggplant, Caramelized Onion, and Tomato

While in Greece this summer, I learned to love a few “new” foods, including olives, octopus, and eggplant. These are all things that I had tried before and not had much of an opinion of – in fact, a few weeks before we left I silently judged a stranger at the grocery store for loading up on eggplant (I know, I am really friendly).

Greek inspiration

The game-changer for me was a delicious dish of eggplant, red pepper, and potatoes baked in a tomato sauce. The vegetables were tender and had all absorbed the flavor of the sauce and seasonings – I was smitten.

This pasta is a take on the baked vegetable dish that I enjoyed so much while abroad. Eggplant and tomato sauce, I have discovered, is a winning combination and perfect for this time of year when you want a cozy (yet healthy) meal.

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Salt and Pepper Zucchini

One of my old friends has a new woman in his life. They’ve gone on a couple cute dates, they have great chemistry, and he’s cooking her dinner this week! So sweet. I’m not using any names here, but my friend has been asking me for cooking advice. He knew he wanted to keep his menu simple so he could spend time with the girl and his dog, and he knew he wanted to start with a salad, and then serve lemon pepper chicken as his main dish (cooked on his new barbeque – fancyyy). Sides was where he was drawing a blank.

I suggested cous cous as the grain, because it cooks in literally five minutes; Near East makes a great one that I like to cook in chicken broth and add fresh, chopped rosemary to. We couldn’t decide on a vegetable though, partially because the salad took tomatoes out of the equation and he is kind of picky about vegetables (typicalll!).

One of my favorite easy veggies is this zucchini recipe. It is best made in the microwave…I know!….and takes under 10 minutes to prepare – perfect for what my friend was looking for! My parents used this recipe in their restaurant (I think sans-microwave, though) and have passed it on to me. It’s best in summer, alongside grilled entrees.

Of course, turns out my friend doesn’t like zucchini either. Oh well…more for us!

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Detox Time: Spring Minestrone

asparagus and rice

Coming home from vacation means a few things.  It means snugging my puppy for a very long time because I missed him so much.  It means spending a couple hours catching up with my favorite food blogs.  It means doing laundry and putting all my essential things back where they belong.  It means uploading my pictures to Facebook and catching up with my friends.  It also means detox time.

It turns out the food on Carnival Cruise lines is, at best, sub-par.  That was a huge bummer for me, I got no inspiration from my plate!  However…sub-par food does not mean it was inedible.  The food was fine.  There were some great California Rolls, custom made omelettes in the morning, and of course 24-hour pizza and ice cream, which you can’t really go wrong with.  Sub-par food does not stop me from eating lots of it.  Sub-par food led me to gain three pounds…ha.

I’m not worried!  Sub-par food tends to be packed with sodium and other things that make you bloat.  A diet of whole grains, fruits, and veggies is the solution, and that’s my plan for the next few days, starting with this healthy and delicious soup.

spring minestrone

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