Eggplant Bolognese (Vegetarian)

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A vegetarian version of this traditional meaty dish. It still packs a lot of flavor because the garlic and eggplants are roasted in the oven. And besides the red wine, I also added a bit of port. If you want to save time, you can also roast the garlic and eggplant the day before.

This recipe serves 3.

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

1 head of garlic

2 eggplants (medium sized) cut into small cubes

1 red onion, chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

500gr of tomato pure

1 shot of port

1 cup of vegetable or chicken stock

1 cup of red wine

3 tablespoons of dried oregano

2 tablespoons of dried basil

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of sugar

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Extras:

350grs of dried pasta, I used Armoniche pasta

Grated Grana Padano for serving

Fresh basil for decoration

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.

Trim the top off the head of the garlic to expose the top of the garlic cloves. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and wrap it in foil.

Place the chopped eggplants in the prepared tray with the garlic. Drizzle some olive oil over the eggplant and add some salt. Roast for 1 hour. Stir the eggplant half way.

Once the garlic is roasted, press it to push out the garlic cloves. Chop them.

Place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the roasted garlic, eggplants, port and red wine.  Let it cook for about 3 minutes while stirring. Then add the tomato puree, stock, oregano, basil, bay leaves, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to mix it and let it cook for about 20 minutes until it becomes a sauce. Taste for salt and pepper, and remove the bay leaves.

Cook the pasta as instructed on the package. Then place the drained pasta in the pan with the sauce and mix it until well combined.

Serve with some grated Grana Padano and fresh basil leaves.

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Red Wine Braised Oxtail with Creamy Polenta and Honey Glazed Carrots

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I love this recipe, great for these colder months. It is very easy to make, it just takes a couple of hours because the meat needs to be braised. The flavors are definitely worth the wait though. The red wine sauce goes really well with the creamy polenta and the meat just falls off the bone.

This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the stew:

4 big pieces of Oxtail, about 1 kilo (seems like a lot but it has a lot of bone)

One onion cut in half

2 cloves of garlic, peeled.

1 bay leaf

One bottle of red wine

7 cups of beef stock

500grs of tomato puree

One tablespoon of sugar

½ cup of port

Olive oil to seal the meat

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh thyme for decoration

For the glazed carrots:

8 small rainbow carrots, peeled

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of honey

Pinch of celery salt

1/2 cup of water

For the Polenta:

3/4 cup of polenta

4 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable)

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of butter

30grs of grated Parmesan cheese

 

To braise the oxtails:

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oxtails and sear them on both sides. Take the meat out and set it aside.

Add the onion, garlic, tomato puree, sugar and bay leaf. Stir

Place the meat back in the Dutch oven. Add the red wine, stock, salt and pepper.

Let it cook covered, over medium heat for about 2.5 to 3 hours. Check from time to time that it has enough liquid; otherwise add more stock. You know it’s done when the meat pulls apart from the bone using just a fork.

Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the Dutch oven. Strain the sauce. Then place the sauce back in the pot, add the port and let it reduce.

Once the sauce has reduced and thickened, place the meat back in the pot. Baste them so they don’t get dry.

To glaze the carrots:

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan. Then add the carrots, celery salt, honey and water. Cover it with a lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Then remove the lid and let it cook for 1 extra minute. Pinch one carrot with a knife to check if its cooked through. If not let them cook a bit longer. Set aside.

Cook the polenta just before serving:

First warm up the broth with the salt. On low heat, slowly add the polenta while whisking. This way you won’t have any lumps. Let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Then add the butter, Parmesan cheese and mix well until both have melted. Serve Immediately.

Once the polenta is cooked, divide it among 2 plates. Add the oxtails, carrots and garnish with some fresh thyme.

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Cranberry Chicken Roulade with Black Rice, Purslane & Cranberry Red Wine Sauce

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Seeing cranberries at the market starts to get me into the holiday spirit! This a recipe from last year which I just updated and tweaked a bit. This recipe serves 2.

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

2 chicken breasts, about 560 grams

Salt

Pepper

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

For the cranberry compote:

2 cups of fresh cranberries

2 cups of water

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar

For the cranberry red wine sauce:

Leftover of the cranberry compote

1 ½ cups of chicken stock

¼ cup red wine

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 bay leaf

Salt

For the black rice:

1 cup of black rice

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of salt

4 cups of boiling water

Extras:

1 handful of purslane, washed

Olive oil

Vinegar

Salt

Pepper

 

First make the cranberry compote, just place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Once the cranberries start to pop, stir from time to time to prevent the bottom from sticking. Cook for about 15 minutes until it has thickened and turned into a compote. Transfer it to a bowl and allow it to cool down completely.

While the sauce is cooling down, start making the rice. Place the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic powder, rice and salt. Stir for a few seconds and then add the boiling water. Cover it with a lid and let it cook on low heat for about 35 to 40 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.

To prepare the chicken, first butterfly it and then place it in between 2 plastic wrap pieces. Using a meat tenderizer, hammer it until it has an even thickness.

Place the chicken in a new long piece of plastic wrap, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it. Add about 2 tablespoons of the cranberry compote in the middle, lengthwise. Careful not to add too much so it doesn’t overflow. Roll it like a sausage very tightly with the plastic wrap and make knots on both edges.

Repeat for second piece and then place them in a large pot with boiling water and cook them for 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, start preparing the sauce.

Blend the remaining cranberry compote with the chicken stock. Then pass it through a strainer and discard the pulp.

Place the sauce in a medium saucepan; add the red wine, sugar and bay leaf.  Reduce it until it has become a thick sauce. Add salt to taste and remove the bay leaf.  Set aside.

Once the 10 minutes for the chicken have passed, remove them from the water and remove the plastic wrap. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides. Remove them from the pan and slice them.

In a small bowl, mix the purslane with a splash of olive oil, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Serve the sliced chicken with the black rice, salad and some of the cranberry-red wine sauce.

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