Our first Food Fridays Please Explain kicks off with vegan cooking! Ronen Seri and Pamela Elizabeth are the co-founders behind the vegan restaurant franchise Blossom and the authors of The Blossom Cookbook: Classic Favorites from the Restaurant That Pioneered a New Vegan Cuisine. They’ll debunk some myths about vegan food/cooking, offer tips for home cooks and share some of their most popular recipes including Trumpet Mushroom Calamari, Sweet Potato and Coconut Cream Soup, and German Chocolate Cake.
Check out recipes from The Blossom Cookbook below!
Pine Nut–Crusted Eggplant
Eggplant is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. It is full of flavor, has a fantastic hearty texture, and is extremely versatile. Created as an inventive option for our gluten-free guests, this dish uses a combination of pine nuts and basil as the crust for the eggplant, and the creamy sauce is a wonderful finish. It’s sure to please and impress at any dinner party and is great for all seasons.
Serves 3 or 4
1 medium eggplant, halved and peeled
1½ tablespoons salt
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cups pine nuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Scant ¾ cup olive oil
4½ tablespoons chopped garlic
1½ teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
3 pinches of black pepper
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 sprig fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 cup artichoke hearts
2/3 cup white wine
2 cups Cashew Cream (page 000)
1 head escarole
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Slice the peeled eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices (each half should yield 6 slices). Fill a deep bowl with water and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Soak the eggplant slices in the water for 20 minutes to help remove any bitterness.
Bring a pot of water to boil and add the potatoes. Boil the potatoes for 30 to 40 minutes, or until soft, then remove and place in a large bowl.
While the potatoes are boiling and the eggplant is soaking, put the pine nuts, flour, and basil in a food processor. Process until the mixture has the consistency of bread crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil, 1½ tablespoons of the garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix well.
Drain the eggplant and dredge the slices in the pine nut breading, making sure each slice is thoroughly coated. Set the breaded eggplant slices on a rack and let sit for 10 to 20 minutes to dry.
Meanwhile, mash the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the garlic.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, and artichoke hearts and sauté until the tomatoes begin to soften. Add 1/3 cup of the white wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the mashed potatoes and the salt and stir well.
In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant slices and pan-fry on each side until they begin to lightly brown. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 5 minutes to crisp.
Make the sauce: In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/3 cup white wine, the Cashew Cream, and 1 tablespoon chopped basil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper and stir.
In a separate medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the escarole and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, or until soft.
To assemble, divide the sauce among three or four plates, then add the potato mixture, the escarole, and finally the eggplant slices on top.
Cashews . . . the cream of the crop! With their high healthy fat content, cashews are the best cream substitute, be