Guest Post: Roasted Walnut & Eggplant Boats
May Cooking By Color – Purple/Blue
Howdy friends! I know it’s been a while since I posted my own recipe, but things have been pretty busy. Besides working as a substitute teacher to make some extra cash, I’ve been training really hard in the gym. Basically my meals have become really simple and repetitive while I’m training and my creative recipe development has been lacking. But I promise to have you some delicious Cooking By Color recipes soon! Until then enjoy this guest post using eggplant (which I have a love/hate relationship with 😉
Roasted Walnut & Eggplant Boats by Macaroon
When I was in the 8th grade, purple was my “signature” color. Maybe it still is, because I’m wearing purple as I write this piece. Back in the 8th grade, I had a closet full of purple clothes. My backpack and notebooks were purple. I even had my room painted purple, which I was would later cover with my take on graffiti and poster art. In that same year, I saw the film, “Steel Magnolias,” for the first time, which spawned one of my favorite movie quotes of all time. The ever-flamboyant lady, Clairee Belcher, played by Olivia Dukakis, made her attempt with color commentary at a football game by saying “Bob, would you call this color “grape” or “aubergine?” When I heard that line, I was tickled…well, PURPLE! I still girlishly giggle at it to this day.
In honor of “Cooking by Color,” I decided to take on the hues of purple by cooking with the royal eggplant. Coming from an Italian background, eggplant was the vegetarian staple dish, of course usually fried and piled on with cheese and sauce. So, I wanted to create something wholesome, not too heavy and could be served either as a side or on its own. With that, I looked to the smaller and sweeter Italian eggplant for tasty dish, full of walnut goodness and balanced flavors.
I never thought about putting walnut and eggplant together until this recipe. Something clicked between the earthy tones of the walnut and the sweetness of the eggplant and also the red pepper. By adding a little bit of garlic and nutritional yeast, a subtle cheesiness just popped up the rest of the flavors. To be honest with you, I would eat the walnut mixture raw, spread atop some water crackers. But roasted in the eggplant, it surprised me how tasty it all was, especially on its own. However, it would go just as nicely with some spaghetti squash or a few spears of steamed asparagus.
Roasted Walnut & Eggplant Boats
Source: Macaroon with some walnuts & Italian eggplant
4 Italian eggplants
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 cup raw walnuts
1 red bell pepper, de-stemmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 scallion, white and pale green parts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground tellicherry (or ground black pepper)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil or applying cooking spray.
2. Cut off the tops of eggplants, then slice them lengthwise down the middle.
3. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the center of each eggplant half to create your boats.
4. Squeeze one lemon and drizzle the juice over the eggplants (You’ll notice that they may start to turn brown, like apples do. The juice should help stop the browning). Set aside and prepare your stuffing.
5. Using a food processor or blender, pulse walnuts into ground somewhat fine. Add garlic, scallion, peppers, nutritional yeast, juice of the second lemon, oregano, tellicherry and sea salt. Pulse until the mixture is well combined.
6. Fill the eggplant halves with the mixture and set on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover sheet loosely with aluminum foil.
7. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove top foil. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
So, you have this recipe with some scooped out eggplant. What to do? What to do? Well, you can easily whip it up into a lovely babaghanouj dip, or roast it for spicy caponata. Play around with it. I play with my food, all of the time.
Carmella Lanni-Giardina, aka “Macaroon,” is one-half of The Food Duo, a vegan blog shared with her husband Carlo, aka “Artichoke.” While not spending her days in an office cube and evenings deep in graduate studies, she enjoys long drives to strange places, finding new vegan foodie goodies, listening to post-punk 80s music, experimenting with recipe whip-ups, and being “Mom” to 2 rescued kitties, Little Miss Connie and Mozzer, the Duke of Periwinkle.