just a drop of simple sunshine


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Eggplant Lasagna

I don’t honestly remember eating lasagna all that much growing up, but somewhere along the line, I decided that I really liked it. I had never made it prior to my gluten-free existence, but over the summer, I had the thought that eggplant would probably make a very good pasta substitute in a true veggie lasagna. A quick Google search proved that I wasn’t alone, & I soon had a pretty easy recipe!

It seems that for some people, lasagna is a pretty involved, hours-long process, but I whipped this up pretty quickly. I’m not going to include exact amounts, mainly because how much you make depends a lot on the size of your pan! I used a rather small square glass pan (it’s 22cm by 22cm – yay for Canadian merchandise from Big Lots!), & just used what I had until it was gone.

Eggplant Lasagna

Makes six servings; gluten-free, grain-free

What you need:

  • Fresh eggplant
  • salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tub ricotta cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • meat sauce
  • fresh herbs & spices as desired

 

How to do it:

  1. Prepare eggplant by cutting into thin slices, about a half inch thick. Lay slices flat & sprinkle with a bit of salt. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes or so – this draws some of the liquid out.
  2. While this is happening, prepare your meat sauce!
  3. Blot up the moisture from the eggplant, then drizzle a pan with some olive oil & roast the eggplant at 400° for about 15 minutes.
  4. Combine ricotta with the egg, & any other herbs & spices you’d like to include.
  5. Once eggplant is done, you can begin the layering process! Grease your pan with some olive oil, then begin with a layer of eggplant. Although I tried to keep the pieces whole, I did cut a few in half so the bottom would have a nice continuous layer of eggplant. Then I slathered on about half of the ricotta, some sauce, then repeated. I only had room in my pan for two layers of eggplant, but the end result was deliciously hearty, so I think it worked great!
  6. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top, then bake at 350° for about an hour or until completely heated through. I’d suggest placing your lasagna on a baking sheet while it bakes, as some juice may bubble up to the surface & over the side. Messy ovens make people sad.

 

Serve with some salad & enjoy!

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Late Summer Salads

Over the summer, I’ve really tried to take advantage of the local in-season produce, which around here is just fantastic. There’s really nothing like a perfectly ripe tomato eaten within 30 minutes of it being on the vine! I’ve eaten quite a lot of pickle cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers, basil, cilantro, candy onions, tomatoes, nectarines… the list goes on, & it’s been fabulous. I even had some adventures with truly fresh garlic & cute little patty pan squash! I’d post recipes, but to be honest, I haven’t really been cooking all that much – just throwing yummy things together with a dash of olive oil & enjoying.

Here in northeast Ohio, we’re headed into the last few weeks of really good produce, & my last trip to the farm market was pretty epic. I don’t have enough space in my kitchen to undertake preserving the harvest, so I’m going to savor every last bit that I can. Early in the summer I enjoyed my salads with lettuce, but lately I’ve been eating it sans greens, simply throwing sliced & diced veggies into a bowl & tossing with olive oil & balsamic & a bit of salt & pepper. Summer will be over before we know it – savor it while you can!

Late Summer Salad

local, seasonal

  • tomato
  • pickle cucumber
  • carrot
  • onion
  • green pepper
  • black olives
  • fresh basil & cilantro
  • dash of sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil & balsamic

 

Mix everything together, adding seasonings to taste. Add crumbled goat cheese & roasted chicken breast, as desired. Enjoy!


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Tomatoes & basil & onions, oh my!

I know I’ve posted this recipe before, but with summer just around the corner, I thought I’d bring it up again! Tomatoes & basil is pretty much the yummiest combination ever, if I do say so myself, & the addition of sweet onion creates a party in your mouth. For a real treat, throw in some true fresh mozzarella, & you’re basically set for life.

I hadn’t actually planned to make this, it being April & all (aka, the tomatoes are generally still lifeless), but my local farm market had three things last weekend: these sweet candy onions (pictured below), absolutely gorgeous fresh basil, & the reddest little tomatoes I’ve seen since October. I kid you not, I did a little celebration dance right there in the market. YAY! I knew exactly what I was making on Sunday!

Normally I try to eat things mostly in season, but I made an exception for these. I dare not think where they came from, or how they came to be so red & juicy in April, but I’ll tell you what – I savored every morsel. Oh, it’s so, so good. & so versatile! But I’m getting ahead of myself. The recipe for this salad is basic, but I’ll write it out anyways for those who need the exact directions…

Classic Tomato & Basil Salad

What you need:

  • Good, ripe tomatoes (I used small-ish ones; feel free to use any variety)
  • Onions (if you can’t find the delectable candy sweet ones, go for red)
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

 

How to do it:

  1. Cut tomatoes into chunks. Because I used small ones, I simply quartered them, but when I use tiny grape tomatoes, I simply halve them. Toss some salt on them to bring out the flavor. Dice up your onions, & chop up the basil. Throw these three ingredients into a bowl (if you’re also adding mozzarella, go ahead & toss it in too).
  2. Drizzle on olive oil & balsamic; even to evenly coat everything. If you feel so inclined, add some Italian dressing.
  3. Add some fresh ground pepper, mix altogether, & voila! A super simple salad you can enjoy all summer long.

 

I mentioned the versatility of this mixture, & here are some ways I’ve used it

  • On its own as a side salad
  • Thrown on top of salad greens & chicken for an entree salad
  • Blended into a quick fresh sauce for pizza
  • If using big slices of tomato, as toppings for pizza – just throw on some fresh blobs of mozzarella, & you’re good to go!
  • Mixed with pasta or spaghetti squash for an easy dish
  • Spooned over chicken breast before baking
  • Mixed into a Big Bowl of Awesome a few moments before removing from heat
  • Served atop toast (gluten-free or otherwise) for quick crostini

 

Anyone have other ideas? Let me know how you’ll enjoy this in the coming months!