About a year and a half ago, I bought my house. Now, I wish it had been as easy as pack up my crap, throw some paint on the walls and settle in, but it wasn’t. I bought the house dirt cheap but then literally tore it down to the studs. Luckily, I had my apartment until February of this year, but when I moved in things were still rough. Rough like I didn’t have hot water or a shower for a couple weeks. Rough like I didn’t have a kitchen until May. (Mind you, I did have a grill and now I’m really good at grilling too.)
So the point of all this is to say that the other day I was cleaning up the kitchen, you know the usual washing dishes and wiping down counters when I realized EVERYTHING was filthy. I noticed a smudge on one of my cabinet fronts, probably from opening/closing a drawer while my hands were dirty from cooking. Then I noticed drips down the front of the sink cabinet. Have you ever had the snowball effect take over your cleaning? About an hour later I realized that I had scrubbed every surface in the kitchen. Really though, how did it get so dirty in so little time? Probably from the the amount of meals I’ve cooked drunk, and the herd of animals I call pets.
Mostly this guy
In my newly cleaned kitchen I prepped myself a delicious lunch of fried eggplant sandwiches. Usually when I make this, my dad’s around to spilt the bounty with me, but this time I had it all to myself, so instead of closing it up and having chips or a salad on the side, I ate it open-face style… With lots of cheese.
I’m a fatty, I know. But if you want to enjoy this decadence yourself, here’s how:
Fried Eggplant Sandwich with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 small eggplant
- Italian seasoned panko breadcrumbs
- Cajun seasoning
- 2 eggs, whisked for dredging.
- Ciabatta bread
- Sliced mozzarella
- Half a container of cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Fill a shallow frying pan with about a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil and heat on high.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (I used my toaster oven to preserve some time and energy)
- On a small baking pan toss cherry tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, roast in oven for about 15 minutes, until soft and a few begin to burst.
- Slice eggplant into quarter inch rounds.
- Set up your breading station. I like to pour my breadcrumbs into a pie pan so I have plenty of room to bread my eggplant slices.
- Dip each piece of eggplant into the egg then into the breadcrumbs seasoned with a little Cajun seasoning.
- Once they’re all breaded, start frying in small batches. Usually it takes 2-3 minutes per side.
- Meanwhile, toast your ciabatta.
- Once everything’s all cooked, assemble your sandwiches. I like to layer eggplant, tomatoes, cheese, more tomatoes. Maybe repeat… Depending on how fat I’m feeling.
A few weeks ago I discovered Good Eggs. They’re this great company that provides grocery delivery in New Orleans and select other cities, but what’s special about them is that all they sell are locally grown and produced foods. I like to describe it as having the farmers market delivered to my door. Amazing for me because of my unpredictable work hours, which makes it almost impossible to go to a farmers market regularly.
The most interesting thing I’ve tried from Good Eggs is getting a produce bundle. Basically, this means I give them a set fee ($20 or $30) and they deliver me a variety of seasonal fruits and veggies. I don’t have any ability to choose what I want so sometimes I get weird things. Like in my last box I got muscadine grapes. Now I know those are actually super common in Louisiana but I had no idea they could be used for anything other than wine. (But FYI, roast them with a little balsamic vinegar and eat with Gorgonzola, yum).
Yesterday I received my second produce bundle from Good Eggs and this one was full of goodies from Stoney Point Farm, a family owned farm in Washington Parish. I got some lovely bell peppers, purple hull peas, sweet potatoes, assorted greens, some preserved pears and a shit load of squash. (All for $20! Amazing!)
Now, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of squash. I actually didn’t know what varieties I had and I had to do quite a bit of research to find out what to do with all these squash. So after about half an hour of Pinterest research, I found out I’ve got an acorn, a couple butternut, a spaghetti squash and some summer squash. Today I’ll show you how I used the acorn squash.
Considering I had no idea how this dish would turn out, I’m pretty happy with the results. The squash itself was super tender and slightly sweet, which played nicely with the spicy sausage. I definitely think you could use an acorn squash as a mashed potato replacement.
Sausage & Rice Stuffed Squash
- 1 acorn squash
- 1/4 lb ground hot sausage
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 oz sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabellas)
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Cut squash in half, remove seeds.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on baking sheet then cover tightly with foil.
- Roast in preheated oven until tender, about 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, brown sausage. Once browned, drain fat and set aside.
- Melt butter and sauté minced shallot until translucent. Then add mushrooms and saute until soft.
- Add a cup of cooked rice and browned sausage. Stir and heat through.
- Stir in 1/4 cup italian shredded cheese.
- Once squash is tender, remove from oven and flip over so the whole you removed seeds from is facing up.
- Spoon rice mixture into whole, sprinkle with a little more cheese.
- Place back into oven for 5 min, just to melt cheese on top.
Serve with roasted veggies (mine are some of Stoney Point’s sweet potatoes and butternut squash) and a light citrus-dressed salad.