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Just One More For Summer! Tomato & Eggplant Salad With A Yogurt Dressing & Fresh Herbs


Trying desperately to not let summer go!! I am going to miss this.


I get most of my inspiration from my travels and from what is in season. I just recently got back from a trip to Israel, where they have mastered the art of vegetable dishes and salads….and I am not talking about mixed greens with tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette OR roasted brussels with parm…I am talking about salad combinations and vegetable dishes that include root vegetables, nuts, fresh cheeses, fruits, herbs, yogurt, tahini, spices….that are served and prepared, fresh, roasted, fire roasted, grilled, toasted…combinations and techniques that are so different and exciting….I am going to be on a salad/veggie kick for a while!

note- It is all about layering, colors, textures and flavors…it doesn’t need to be tricky. If you learn the art of killer salads…you will never think of salad as a lame or boring thing ever again.


Tomato & Eggplant salad with a yogurt dressing and fresh herbs

3 small eggplants or 1 large eggplant

1 large heirloom tomato (or 2 regular)

1 cup of cherry tomatoes (i like getting different colors…makes it look extra pretty)

1 jalapeno- finely chopped ( I remove the ribs and the seeds, but you can keep them in if you like it spicy)

1-2 garlic cloves-grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup sheeps milk feta (or whatever feta you have on hand)
1 cup plain whole yogurt
1/2 lemon- squeezed
1 lemon zested
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tbls finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
Preheat a grill or a pan. Slice the eggplants to 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and let sit outside for 10 minutes. Pat dry before using.
Drizzle both sides of the eggplant with a nice amount of extra virgin olive oil and season well with salt.
Grill or pan fry  the eggplant on both sides for 10 minutes until they are cooked through and have char grilled marks. Place on the side.
In a blender place the feta with the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and a little bit of water, blend until completely smooth (you want to Jackson Pollock your salad, so if the yogurt dressing is too thick, than add a little bit more water….you might need 1 tablespoon in total)
Slice the tomatoes 1/4 inch thick and start, layered the eggplant and the tomatoes, seasoning with salt along the way. When you are done, drizzle over a nice amount of the yogurt sauce. Season well with salt and pepper and then sprinkle over the jalapeño, chives, lemon zest and the pine nuts. Drizzle with a nice amount of olive oil, a little squeeze of lemon juice and then sprinkle over the parsley. You want the dish to be rustic and colorful. I make sure there is always olive oil around he sides…so pretty.
This recipe is perfectly simple, elegant and really highlights all the fresh local flavors.

Baked Polenta Lasagna

Was playing around in my kitchen the other day. I love layering and baking and I wanted to try something new. Does anyone else have a thing for polenta? I swear…it is the ultimate comfort food. My grandmother was Roumanian so I grew up eating it. The dish we ate was called mamaliga (how crazy is that name?!) It is a boiled polenta dish served with some cottage cheese. mmm…

Here is what I did:

I started with the sauce, I made an eggplant based sauce. It was hearty and tangy. You can literally use any kind of sauce you want. 

2 large eggplants, roughly chopped

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon capers

1 bunch of fresh basil

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp red chili powder

2- 14 ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes, crushed

2 teaspoons, brown sugar


In a large pot, heat up 3 tablespoons of the oil and fry the eggplant all over until slightly golden. Remove the eggplant and heat up the rest of the olive oil. Toss in the onions, red bell peppers, and garlic, then season well with salt and pepper. Sweat for 5 minutes, then splash in the balsamic vinegar and add in the capers. Saute for a couple of minutes. Add the eggplant back in with the crushed tomatoes, basil, smoked paprika, chili powder and the brown sugar. Season again, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 1 hour. Don’t forget to stir. You can make the sauce a day or two in advance.


6 cups of water

2 cups of polenta

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup freshly grated parmesan

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions: Season the water with the salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling stir in the polenta and continue mixing until it thickens up. Add in the olive oil the parmesan and the salt and pepper.

For the layering of the lasagna

2 large balls of fresh mozzarella or 1 1/2 cups small mozzarella balls

1/2 cup fresh basil

1 cup freshly grated parmesan

3 small eggplants, sliced lengthwise and either grilled with olive oil or pan fried with olive oil until golden.

In a large square pan, place a little sauce on the bottom, then ladle a layer of polenta on top until is covers the entire pan, then ladle a nice amount of sauce on top of the polenta, place some grilled eggplants on top of the sauce, mozzarella, a generous sprinkle of parmesan and then another layer of the polenta. Keep doing this until you are out of ingredients. Top whatever your last layer is with mozzarella and parmesan and bake at 350 degree F for 45 minutes. Serve hot!