italian marinated eggplant & my whole 30 week 3 recap

melanzane sottolio
Me: I did it!
You: What have you done?
Me: I’ve completed my third week of the Whole 30! I’ve cruised through the half way point, even went out to eat and found something on the menu to suit me without a hitch. I’m feeling absolutely incredible physically, mentally, and emotionally, and now I’m headed to an awesome festival in Costa Rica for the next 8 days and I intend to stick to the plan!

[Screeching halt of breaks. A spotlight centers on the dialogue bubbles.]

You: How do you intend to do that… there?
Me: I don’t really know…
But I’m trying my best to figure out how!
I’ve packed a bunch of nuts and some other Whole 30 approved dry goods, I plan to hit a fruit stand on my way to the event to get some avocados and other tropical deliciousness, and then I hope that they’ll be serving fresh caught fish and other tasty grilled meats once I’m there. I won’t have a way to cook for myself but I have no problem asking for what I need and a majority of the people I will be with eat healthy too.

I just really hope I can resist the nectar of the agave gods while I’m down there. Good tequila is my weakness. Instead, I will drink in the sunrises and sunsets and imbibe the high vibes of all the other party goers. This will be the greatest test of will I’ve ever faced in this lifetime and it will certainly be nothing short of phenomenal. Wish me luck!

Bet you thought I was going to play the tequila song, didn’t you? Psych! I grew up on the Eagles so this is what song comes to mind first when I think about that muy bueno inebriant that makes me feel so muy bueno… lest I digress.

So, on to this week’s recipe!

I’ve been craving a burger and was wondering what I could use in place of a bun, then this recipe came to mind…
When I lived in Italy and worked in the kitchen of Casa Cares, this was a favorite of mine. In Italian, it’s called “melanzane sott’olio” which literally translates to eggplant (or aubergine, depending where you hail from) under oil. It’s simple to prepare yet it takes time, most of which is inactive, but it’s so tasty it’s so very worth it.
marinated eggplant ingredients
Italian Marinated Eggplant (aka Melanzane Sott’olio)

Prep time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Active prep time: 15 minutes
Ready in: 2 hours 45 minutes
Serves 4-6

1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
¾ cup chopped italian parsley
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 cups extra virgin olive oil

  • Slice the eggplant into half inch thick rounds. It’s important they’re all the same thickness so they roast evenly. In a mixing bowl, place one layer then salt them, add another layer and salt, and another until all the rounds are in the bowl with salt on them. Let them sit for 2 hours or more to allow the salt to leach the water out of them.
  • When 2 hours are up, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  • Oil the bottom of a baking sheet (preferably non stick), drain the water from the bowl and arrange the eggplant in a single layer.
  • Roast for 30 minutes then flip each piece and roast for another 10 minutes. During that 10 minute interval, chop the garlic and parsley.
  • Find a dish with a lid and, one layer at a time, add a piece of eggplant, sprinkle with garlic and parsley, drizzle with oil, until you’ve added all the pieces, then cover with oil.
  • Cover and let marinate for at least an hour, then serve.

*Because there is raw garlic in this dish, I recommend eating it within a few days or else it goes bad. No need for botulism here!

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Since I will be in Costa Rica next week through the weekend, I won’t be able to post my regularly scheduled blog but I am going to try to continue making daily updates to my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so you can peep my adventures there.

Hope you enjoy and have fun cooking!

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cashew cauliflower rice & week 2 of my whole 30

week2-bld-whole30
Some highlights from this past week (left to right):
Breakfast – Two pastured eggs, basted medium, over a bed of kale sauteed in coconut oil and cashew cauliflower rice;
Lunch – A salad of organic spinach greens, steamed yams, shredded beets and purple cabbage, plum tomatoes, pepitas, and baked chicken breast tenders tossed in my savory herb vinaigrette (sans the tamari);
Dinner – Seared ahi tuna steaks smothered in sunshine sauce over a bed of cashew cauliflower rice with a side of steamed broccoli and plum tomatoes.

Second week of my Whole 30 is behind me and I have to admit, it was tougher than my first week.

The most difficult thing about this week was my digestion. I took solace in the fact that this was to be expected – as the Hartwigs mention in their book, It Starts With Food, it can take a couple weeks or more for the body to get “fat adapted” and in the meantime there can be various side effects including digestive issues. However, now as I round the corner into my third week, things are moving along smoothly (pun intended).

Speaking of noticeable benefits this past week, I’ve had super steady energy throughout my long work days, I’ve been sleeping like a rock, and waking up early without my alarm… loving it!

Over the past week, I’ve received several requests for my cashew cauliflower rice recipe so here it is – so incredibly simple, delicious, and a great base for sauces and other gooey things (like runny eggs), you can spice it up any which way you like by adding other spices, herbs, veggies, or even dried fruit to satiate your sweet tooth.

cashew cauliflower rice-ingredients
Cashew Cauliflower Rice
tweaked from a Well Fed recipe

Prep time: 2 minutes
Ready in: 25 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

1 head of cauliflower
1 cup of raw cashews
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
dash of salt
sprinkle of pepper

    • Break up the head of cauliflower into florets and blend in food processor for 15 seconds on low, then another 5-10 seconds on medium or high – just until it reaches a grainy looking consistency. Be careful not to over blend or else it will get mushy.
    • Toast the cashews in a hot cast iron skillet or heavy pan turning every 30 seconds until nice and brown – about 5 minutes.
    • Add the coconut oil, letting it melt, then add the cauliflower and sautée on high heat stirring every minute or so until some of the moisture cooks out and it starts to get toasty – about 15 minutes.
    • Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Seriously, it’s that easy! If you’re prepping for the week, it keeps super well in the fridge and reheats nicely and gets even more toasty after just a couple minutes in a skillet on the stovetop – no additional oil necessary!

Check out my daily Whole 30 updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and have fun cooking!

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cashew cauliflower rice
As always, your thoughts and questions are welcomed in the comments section below.

roasted pine nut hummus

roasted pine nut hummus
Hummus is a Mediterranean dip made of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (sesame seed paste), garlic, lemon juice, and spices. I’ve been a hummus connoisseur for quite some time and I wasn’t super fond of many that were out on the market so I started trying to make it myself. For several years I could never get it quite right, following recipes from cookbooks or off other sites, then one day I discovered the secret… it’s all about warm beans! Say goodbye to chunky hummus with a watery consistency! I prefer to start from dried beans but if you decide to use canned beans (which is totally okay) heat them up for about 5 minutes. Definitely don’t cook them as long as I indicate or they will get hard and… not so delicious.

This recipe is smooth, creamy, and very flavorful with the roasted pine nuts… I think I’ve finally perfected it and it may just be the best darn hummus you ever did eat!
pine nuts banner
Roasted Pine Nut Hummus

Prep time: 9 hours
Active prep time: 1 hour
Makes about 4 cups

1 cup dried garbanzo beans
6 cups pure water
3 garlic cloves
½ cup raw pine nuts
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne
dash of paprika

  • Soak the dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in 3 cups of pure water overnight or at least 8 hours.

Now there’s a lot of things you could do in 8 hours. You could sleep, have a full work day, go for a long adventure in nature, read an enthralling book, or a whole bunch of other things… but if you have no idea what you’re going to do for the eight hours while you’re beans are soaking, I’d like to recommend you check out this captivating and inspirational full length movie called Thrive on YouTube. Disclaimer: It’s only 2 hours long but it will likely change the way you look at the world forever, in the most wondrous way.

Well, how was it?!

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Using a colander, strain the water from the soaked beans and rinse them thoroughly. Add them to a large measuring cup, if you have one, and you will see they’ve about doubled in size to 2 cups. Fill the measuring cup with pure water up to the 4 cup mark then add the contents to a heavy large pot and bring to a boil.

soaked garbanzo beans in measuring cup

  • Once boiling, reduce to low heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel and trim the ends from 3 cloves of garlic and wrap them together in a small piece of aluminum foil. Roast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until soft but not mushy.
  • Spread the pine nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast them for 5 minutes. It’s crucial not to over roast them! 1: they taste terrible when over done and 2: they’re kinda pricey but really give this recipe the special flavor it needs.
  • Set aside a tablespoon of the roasted pine nuts and add the rest along with the roasted garlic to a food processor or heavy duty blender. Turn on low for about 1 minute until almost a paste consistency and scrape the sides using a spatula.
  • Strain but reserve the liquid from the cooked beans.
  • Add the garbanzos, tahini, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cumin, and pinch of cayenne and blend on high, adding ¼ cup of the bean liquid at a time until you reach your desired consistency. I usually add somewhere between 1 cup and 1½ cups. Note: it will thicken as it cools.
  • Add salt to taste, transfer to a dish, sprinkle with paprika and reserved roasted pine nuts, drizzle with olive oil and serve as a snack or appetizer with veggies, pita, or crackers. It will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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As always, I welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!