Eggplant & Tomato Caprese Salad

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I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York this summer.  The farm grows organic vegetables, fruit, flowers, and wheat and over the last few years I have loved experimenting with the different fruits and veggies that show up in the CSA box each week. This year, Amber Waves opened a beautiful new farm store, and to celebrate, I’ll be sharing recipes inspired by what’s in season and available at the farm all summer long. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll find inspiration to cook seasonally, eat locally, and explore delicious new ways eat your way through the summer!

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I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to add vegetables to my cooking routine is to incorporate them into dishes I already love. Eggplant is the perfect example. I don’t buy eggplant often, and when I do, it’s usually to throw on the grill with other summer vegetables. It’s good, it’s fine, but let’s face it, unless the recipe involves tomato sauce, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, people don’t usually rave about eggplant.

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BUT, sneak eggplant into a Caprese salad, and you will never look at it the same way again. There’s something about the contrast of the charred eggplant, juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil that heightens the flavor of each ingredient, so you really taste each one. Rather than getting lost under a bunch of other grilled veggies, eggplant is the star here. And fished with a generous drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of sea salt, it’s the kind of eggplant recipe you might actually end up raving about.

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A few notes… Because this recipe so simple, the key is starting with the best ingredients you can find: firm-ripe summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar for that thick drizzle. For this recipe, I used medium-size tomatoes, but larger beefsteak tomatoes will also work. Since eggplants are a different thickness throughout, the diameter of the tomatoes and the eggplant slices won’t be exactly even. I think it’s kind of fun (and easier) that way, but you can do your best to arrange the slices of tomato and eggplant by size for a neater presentation.

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Eggplant & Tomato Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes, sliced ½-inch thick
  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced in ½-inch thick rounds
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • good-quality, aged balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • coarse sea salt

Directions

Prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals or set a gas grill to medium-high heat.

Brush the eggplant slices generously with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until charred on the outside and soft on the inside. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

On a large rectangular platter, layer the tomatoes, mozzarella, eggplant and basil in diagonal rows. Drizzle generously with vinegar and olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Serve at room temperature.


Greek Grain Salad

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I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York this summer.  The farm grows organic vegetables, fruit, flowers, and wheat and over the last few years I have loved experimenting with the different fruits and veggies that show up in the CSA box each week. This year, Amber Waves opened a beautiful new farm store, and to celebrate, I’ll be sharing recipes inspired by what’s in season and available at the farm all summer long. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll find inspiration to cook seasonally, eat locally, and explore delicious new ways eat your way through the summer!

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This week I’m excited to share my recipe for Greek Grain Salad- an easy, crowd-pleasing side for all your summer P’s (parties, picnics and potlucks!)  Big grain salads are one of my go-tos for cooking for groups, and this one in particular makes great use of summer vegetables – Amber Waves grows peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, parsley and even onions and garlic.

This salad has all the flavors and satisfying crunch of a classic Greek salad, with farro instead of lettuce. Farro is my favorite grain – it’s deliciously nutty and chewy and only takes a half hour to cook, or 10 minutes if you can find the pearled kind. In this case, farro not only makes the salad a more substantial side for a party but also makes it a better dish to prepare in advance, and a better one to bring to the beach!  Speaking of the beach, it might just be time for a dip…

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Greek Grain Salad


Ingredients

  • 1½ cups farro
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into ½-inch wide strips
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh garlic (1 large clove)
  • 1 large English cucumber, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • ¾ cup minced red onion
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, ½-inch diced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preaheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the farro with 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the farro is just cooked. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the hot farro and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the red pepper slices on a half sheet pan and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. Set the peppers aside to cool slightly.

Add the cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, roasted peppers, parsley and olives to the bowl with the farro. Stir until combined, then gently fold in the feta. Serve at room temperature.