A Simpler Eggplant Parmesan

by Anne Maxfield on September 3, 2015

Accidental Locavore Grilled Eggplant ParmAlthough it’s not a terribly difficult dish, the Accidental Locavore was experimenting with a simpler eggplant parm. Instead of breading and frying the eggplant, I opted for peeling it, slicing it thinly and grilling it. It’s still not a low-calorie dish, but slightly less of a fat delivery system…This makes about 4 servings:Accidental Locavore Grated Mozzarella

  • 2 medium-sized Italian eggplants, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small ball fresh mozzarella, grated (about ½ pound)
  • Grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
  • Fresh basil


Accidental Locavore Grilled Eggplant SlicesHeat a grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat. Put the olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl, add the eggplant and toss gently until well-coated. Grill the eggplant for about 2-3 minutes a side, until it’s browned and tender.

Accidental Locavore Finished Eggplant ParmPreheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a gratin pan with the olive oil. Coat the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce. Add a layer of eggplant and top with mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan and 4-5 basil leaves. Repeat with the tomato sauce, eggplant, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil. You should get 2-3 layers depending on the size of your pan. Top with more tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and your best-looking basil leaves. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown and the eggplant is warmed through. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: A really good version of eggplant parm! While the sauce seemed a little thinner than normal, it may just have been that batch of sauce. I’m not sure if breading the eggplant would act as a thickener on the sauce, but it wasn’t a huge difference and certainly didn’t take away from the flavor or the cheesy goodness. What was different was that I wasn’t frying eggplant forever (and then cleaning up afterwards) – just popped it all on the grill. Doing this also gave me a chance to take all the peelers I’ve been collecting for a test run, so stay tuned for the results – kind of surprising.



Silky Smooth Baba Ghanoush

by Anne Maxfield on September 18, 2014

Accidental Locavore Baba GanoushThe Accidental Locavore picked up a couple of beautiful eggplants from our CSA recently, with the intention of blackening them on the grill and then…

Looking through some eggplant recipes, I was intrigued by one claiming to be the best Baba Ghanoush ever, so I gave it a test. Interestingly, you’ll need a salad spinner for this. This made about 2 cups and you have to look at the notes to see if it was the best ever.


  • 2 medium Italian eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon, plus more as desired
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt

Grill the eggplants right on hot coals if using charcoal, or, if on a gas grill, put them right on top of the burners (on high heat) for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred all over and tender. Remove from the grill and wrap in aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Unwrap the foil and carefully slit the eggplants lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh with a big spoon and place in the colander part of the salad spinner. Pick out any stray bits of skin.

Make sure the eggplant is evenly distributed in the spinner. Spin carefully until all excess moisture is removed.

Put the remaining eggplant in the work bowl of a food processor with the garlic, lemon juice and tahini. Process until smooth. With the processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. When the olive oil is well incorporated, stop and taste. Add additional lemon juice and salt as needed.

Serve drizzled with more olive oil and warm pita bread and enjoy!

My verdict: This was certainly the smoothest, silkiest baba ghanoush I’ve ever had. Running it through the salad spinner got rid of all the seeds and a lot of the moisture – definitely worth doing! Flavor-wise it’s delicious, although not as smoky as I would have thought, but that might have been because I was lazy and just tossed the eggplants on the gas grill and didn’t do charcoal. If you don’t have a grill, you can do them on a baking sheet under a broiler. My husband would have liked a little spice to mix into it, maybe some harissa on top, but I thought the garlic gave it enough heat. What do you think?




Stuffed Eggplant With Lamb and Pine Nuts

by Anne Maxfield on August 27, 2012

Accidental Locavore Striped Eggplant

Sometimes the Accidental Locavore thinks you need to be a little sneaky about food. I saw this eggplant recipe in Food & Wine and it immediately appealed to me on three fronts: love of stuffed vegetables, something new to do with eggplants and ease of preparation. One small issue, eggplants are not my husband’s first choice—ever. So, when it looked like I was going to be alone with two house-guests for dinner… This is technically more of a topping than a stuffing and serves 4.

Stuffed Eggplant With Lamb and Pine Nuts

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
The Accidental Locavore shares a recipe for eggplants stuffed with ground lamb and pine nuts. A delicious and easy main course meal with eggplant.


  • 4 one pound eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the eggplants
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon paprika (I used smoked, but not hot)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1lb ground lamb
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste (if you're smart you buy it in a tube)
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped (feel free to substitute mint)
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate*
  • 1 cinnamon stick 1 1/2 inches long


Step 1
Preheat the oven to 425°. Arrange the eggplant halves in a large baking dish, cut side up. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven about 20 minutes, until browned (mine took closer to 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, cumin and paprika together, set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and half of the spice mix. Stir, cover and cook until the onion is soft, about 7 minutes.

Add the lamb and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon until no pink remains, about 4 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Stir in the pine nuts, tomato paste, half the parsley, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the lamb mixture onto the eggplants. In the bowl with the remaining spice mix, add the water, lemon juice, remaining sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to mix and pour into the baking dish around the eggplants. Add the cinnamon stick. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes, basting twice with the pan juices, until very tender.

Plate the eggplants, discard the cinnamon stick and pour the remaining juices over the eggplants. Garnish with the parsley, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: great! My guests thought it was “very delicious” and are dying for the recipe (here it is)! Next time I’ll make a couple of tweaks. First, I’ll substitute fresh mint for the parsley. The parsley is kind of a non-entity in the dish, while mint would just add to the Middle Eastern flavor profile. The other thing to go would be the tamarind concentrate. I happened to have some, but if you didn’t you could substitute pomegranate concentrate or juice or even some cranberry juice, or nothing…You could probably pre-cook the eggplants or even grill them and add the topping later.

My Verdict II:  Made a smaller batch and used mint instead of parsley. Going forward, I would use whatever was around. This time I sprinkled the eggplants with some of the cinnamon and cumin before cooking them (like the eggplant salad). Be careful when doing small batches of this and/or using a shallow pan. The sauce cooks down quickly and you might have to add some water to the pan. For batch 2, I only cooked the eggplants for 45 minutes and think they could have come out after 35-40 minutes.

* Tamarind concentrate is used for Asian and other foods and can be found on Amazon. com.



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Accidental Locavore Vegetable Terrine

This month the Accidental Locavore and other Charcutepalooza participants gave up the sausage stuffing for a more refined pastime, making terrines. Our mission was to make them beautiful as well as delicious. Since I had a houseful of vegetarians coming for the weekend, as well as a box full of gorgeous vegetables, I decided to give Michael Ruhlman’s grilled vegetable terrine a shot.Accidental Locavore Eggplants and Squash

In return for some recipes for cherry tomatoes, my farmer was cool enough to let me pick up my farm box early in the morning, after I had asked for an “advance” of a couple of zucchini and a squash. Someone who knows me well had given me the perfect Le Creuset terrine a while ago so I was set.

It’s a pretty easy recipe and great for this time of year when everything is at its peak. There’s a lot of prep work, but it’s mostly slicing and grilling and then assembly. The hint about wetting the terrine before you line it with Saran wrap is almost worth the cost of the book and thank you Mrs. Wheelbarrow for pointing that out.Accidental Locavore Veggies for Terrine

With any terrine, a little pre-planning is important, especially in this case when style points count. Since I had both green and purple basil, an alternating leaf pattern on the top (or the bottom as you’re layering) would be a good jumping-off point. There were no red Roma tomatoes at the Greenmarket, nor red peppers, so it turned out to be a medley of greens, purples and yellows. I added some chopped thyme to the goat cheese layer but otherwise played it pretty straight.Accidental Locavore Grilled Vegetables

The final result? A lovely if a bit monochromatic terrine. The verdict? Delicious! Everyone had seconds and there was barely anything leftover. The leftovers were the filling of choice for omelets the next morning (and highly praised). My thoughts? For the next one, longer eggplants and I would divide up the goat cheese instead of having one thick layer. The oven roasted/dried tomatoes seemed a little tough, I might just grill them with everything else. And for some crazy reason, I kept expecting artichoke hearts to show up, so in the future they will. The thyme and basil were good, but there could have been more of it and maybe a little garlic?Accidental Locavore Terrine Cross Section