Okra and Eggplant

High summer in Florida – the local farms have plenty of okra, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes… And sometimes it gets a little overwhelming trying to figure out yet another recipe for some of these veggies.  We made this from local okra and eggplant – it’s super abundant right now and very affordable, not to mention healthy and delicious!

If you’re local to Ocala, make sure you check out 326 Market.  Thursday afternoons from 4-7.  It’s a smallish market and the people couldn’t be nicer!  There’s local honey, locally made jams, preserves, jellies (ask for a sample, you won’t be able to pass it by!), artisan jewelers, home made laundry detergents, ducks, chicks, bunnies, a woman selling breads and pastries (key lime pound cake, don’t miss it!), and my favorite – local fresh vegetables.  They also have live music and it looks like they’re getting a pretty great line up!  Definitely go check them out and tell Cathy I sent you.

I picked up two pints of okra and two large Italian eggplants and I decided to try something a little bit different.  Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice. It was kind of like a vegan, Italian, I don’t know… gumbo?  And it was delicious!

  • 2 pints of okra
  • 2 large eggplants
  • sea or kosher salt
  • extra virgin olive oil.
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • a big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes (I like the no BPA Muir Glen)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (the dark kind)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Clean the eggplant and okra – peel the eggplant, dice into smallish pieces and place on a lined baking sheet.  Trim the heads of the okra, (if they’re very small and new – this step isn’t necessary, but the bigger they get, the tougher the tops get. Slice the okra into rounds and place them on the baking sheet too.  Pour a good amount of olive oil and a couple of big pinches of salt over the top and using your hands, mix it all – trying to make sure that each piece gets coated.

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com

Cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the eggplant is soft.

Meanwhile, cook your rice according to package directions.  I use vegetable broth instead of plain water, but this recipe is so flavorful, you really don’t have to do that.  Use a bigger pot than you think you need – in the end we’re going to combine everything in this pot.

Chop your onion and heat a large dutch oven on med/high heat. Add a bit of olive oil to the pan and when it’s hot, add the onion.

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com

 

Allow to cook until the onion is translucent,

chop your garlic and when the onion is nice and shiny, add the red pepper flake and garlic – stir.

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com

When the garlic is really aromatic, add the tomatoes and balsamic and stir well.  Careful.  The vinegar is strong smelling!! Lower the heat to low, cover and let it simmer.

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com

Allow everything to finish cooking.  Nothing’s going to burn – this is a no stress meal!  When the rice is ready, carefully add the okra, eggplant and tomato sauce to the rice. Stir well with a big spoon, plate and serve!

Roasted Okra and Eggplant with Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Rice from ColorMePInk.com A little cracked pepper to finish is perfect!



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Slaw with Grapefruit Dressing

Summer is in full swing and cool dinners are a staple in our house in Florida.  I love experimenting with new salads and in particular, slaw – I had a Ruby Red grapefruit that needed to be used, so I decided to try a Slaw with Grapefruit Dressing.  I’m really glad I did. It was wonderful!

  • One large head of finely shredded cabbage
  • Juice of one Ruby Red grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar
  • salt and pepper to tast

In a bowl, or large measuring cup, add the liquid ingredients, the sugar,  a big pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of pepper.  Whisk very well and taste, you want to taste the grapefruit, and you want it to be slightly sweet.  Adjust the ingredients to you liking and whisk again.

Slaw with Grapefruit Vinaigrette from ColorMePink.com

In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the cabbage – with tongs, toss – if there’s not enough liquid, add equal parts oil and white balsamic until everything is coated, but not swimming in it. Taste.  If it needs more sugar, go ahead and add it.  This is purely preference. Refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors marry -

We had this with our Vegan “Chicken” salad and it was perfect together, creamy, fruity, crunchy, sweet…. Hit all the right spots!

Slaw with Grapefruit Vinaigrette from ColorMePink.com

Yum!



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Summer Harvest Warm Pasta Salad

Down here in Florida, it’s really hot.  This room temperature, or slightly warm pasta “salad” is a great way to use up all those summer veggies!  This warm pasta salad is unexpected and marvelous! My version makes enough to feed an army, feel free to scale it down – don’t worry about measurements, it will be awesome, I promise.

  • 2 Zucchini sliced thin
  • 2 Yellow Squash sliced thin
  • 3 Sweet onions sliced thin
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes rough chopped
  • 3 yellow nectarines rough chopped
  • 1 yellow bell papper julienne
  • 1 orange bell pepper julienne
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • 3 boxes of pasta
  • salt and pepper

I have pretty great knife skills, but sometimes when I want a whole lot of veggies, very thinly sliced, I break out the mandoline.  It’s an amazing gadget and I love uniformly, thinly sliced stuff… so tonight, I put that gadget through a workout!

Using the mandoline, slice the onions, the squash, and the zucchini.  Keep them separated.

Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

In a large dutch oven type pot, add some olive oil on med/high heat and then add the onions, we want a bit of a caramelize on them before we add the squashes which have a high water content and will hinder the brown on the onions.

Meanwhile put the salted pasta water up to boil and chop the rest of your vegetables and nectarines, keep the nectarines separate.  Don’t these peppers look delicious??

Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

when the onions have a bit of brown on them, add the zucchini and squash, stir occasionally, but try to let everything get a bit of “bottom of the pan” time, so that they saute instead of just steam.

Cook for about 20 minutes, then add the garlic.  When it starts to smell really garlicky, add the nectarine and  1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar and step back.  You don’t want to breathe this in, trust me!  Allow it to cook down for another 5 minutes, shut the heat off and set aside. Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com

Dump the pasta to drain and save the pasta pot, transfer the vegetable mixture from the dutch oven, into the pasta pot, add the pasta back and the raw vegetables.

Combine 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, with a 1/3 cup olive oil and a big squirt of Dijon mustard.  Whisk and pour over the pasta.  Gently, but thoroughly combine everything.

Plate a bowl, salt and pepper to taste and dig in.

Summer Harvest Pasta from ColorMePink.com



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Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Potatoes

Decadent.  Did you ever feel like you just need carbohydrates?  Rough day?  Week? Month?  Yeah.  I had one of those days and I could not get the idea of pasta and potatoes out of my brain.  So?  I went with it.  This was so very good – comforting, very satisfying.  Feel free to halve the recipe if you’re rather not have leftovers for three days. I’m not complaining, but the leftovers could not be ignored and it turned into three days of eating lots of carbs.  Let me know if you try this, I’m very interested in hearing what everyone else things about Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Potatoes.

  • 1 bag of small red potatoes, cut into cubes,
  • 2 med eggplants, cut into cubes
  • 7 med. tomatoes (I could have used more, but that’s all I had) cubed
  • 3 large Vidalia onions, rough chopped
  • 7 cloves of garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 boxes linguine

Preheat the oven to 400. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil.  Spray aluminum foil with non-stick cooking spray.  Distribute half of each vegetable onto each tray.  Pour a liberal amount of olive oil over the vegetables, salt generously and then toss with your hands to coat all the vegetables.

Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Potatoes from ColorMePink.com

Roast for 40 minutes to 1 hour – you want the vegetables to have brown on them, especially the potatoes. My oven doesn’t heat evenly, so about half way through, I move the bottom sheet to the top and the top sheet to the bottom.
When they’re done, take them out of the oven and let them sit.  See all that brown?  That’s caramelization and it makes everything slightly sweeter and really delicious.

Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Potatoes from ColorMePink.com

Meanwhile prepare the pasta according to package directions.  Drain them and put the pot back on the stove, with no heat under it.  Take one tray of vegetables and transfer them to the pot, make sure you get all the oil and garlic as well.  Put the drained pasta back in and then the second tray of vegetables. With tongs, toss well.  If it looks a little dry, add some more olive oil right to the pot and continue tossing.

Plate, serve and let the comfort food make that bad day disappear, just a little bit.

Linguine with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Potatoes from ColorMePink.com



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Zoodle (Zucchini Noodle) Salad

These things are awesome!  I’ve been hearing about Zoodles (zucchini noodles) for years, but I’d never tried them.  This week I changed that.  I was really dying for some pasta, we all were and in our ongoing effort to stay off the processed carbs, I bought zucchini. I don’t have a spiralizer and I was really dreading the thought of trying to cut that much zucchini by hand -  but then I remembered that I have a mandoline and I thought that one of the blades, had to be able to get me close…

It did.

Zoodles at ColorMePink.com

Honestly?  This is one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment that we have.  But you can’t argue the results!  So I put on my big girl pants, made sure I used the safety grab thing and shredded some squash….

  • 1 package zucchini (about three med/large) noodled
  • 1 package summer squash (about 4 small/med) noodled
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • a bunch of kalamata olives, chopped (I just used what I had)
  • 1/2 jar marinated mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 squirt dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

So clearly, the measurements aren’t super important here.  Use whatever you have on hand and it will be fine, I promise.

First prepare the “zoodles”

Zoodles at ColorMePink.com

Aren’t they gorgeous?  Totally worth the effort… Want to see them again?

Zoodles at ColorMePink.com Just gorgeous!

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.

Pour over the vegetables and toss very well to combine, but be as gentle as possible.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Zoodles at ColorMePink.com

These are so good!  I can’t even tell you – we had a very hard time waiting the whole hour, but it was worth it!



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Caponata Rice

Sometimes a good idea just comes to you when you’re looking through the fridge for what to put together.  I love the taste of caponata, but we were hungry – so I needed something a bit substantial.  Caponata Rice fit the bill, quite nicely.

  • 2 large eggplant, cut into cubes
  • 5 large red tomatoes (I only had 3, 5 would have been better!
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, mined
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • a big handful of kalamata olives, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • brown rice

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil. Add all the vegetables and the olives – pour olive oil (enough to coat) and a big pinch of salt and using clean hands, toss well.

 

Caponata Rice at ColorMePink.com

Put in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Until the eggplant is very tender.

Caponata Rice at ColorMePink.com

Meanwhile, in a very large pot with a lid, prepare your rice according to package directions.

When the rice is done, add the vegetables and stir gently to combine.  If it looks a little dry, you can add a bit more olive oil.

Caponata Rice at ColorMePink.com

Super easy way to get the rich flavors of caponata, and hearty enough for dinner.



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Last Hurrah Pasta Salad

We’re just starting a raw, vegan cleanse here at our house, so of course the night before – well the weekend before – we went a bit crazy.  This was our delicious, Last Hurrah Pasta Salad!

The measurements here really don’t matter. We did use quite a  bit of garlic and you might want to tone that down if you’re not crazy for garlic like we are.

  • 2 packages penne pasta (or whatever you have)
  • 1 pint each, red and yellow grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 packages mozzarella “pearls”, drained and rinsed.
  • 3 elephant cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • I didn’t have any, but if you have some basil lying around, rip it up and throw it in to the finished product.

Combine the tomatoes and mozzarella in a large sealed container, in a mason jar, or any jar with a tight lid, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Shake well and pour over the tomatoes and mozzarella.  Combine well (I usually put the lid on and carefully shake.  Put it in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to marinate.

When you’re ready to eat, cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, cool, add to a large, sealable container, pour the tomato mozzarella mixture over it and carefully toss to fully combine.

Last Hurrah Pasta Salad at ColorMePink.com

Definitely a memory worthy way to celebrate, the night before our big cleanse.  The memory of it will hopefully help us through.

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Roasted Vegetables and Saffron Rice with Peas and Cherries

The unexpected tang of the cherries, really brings this flavor profile up a notch!  Roasted Vegetables and Saffron Rice with Peas and Cherries.

  • Olive Oil
  • 6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 small golden pumpkins, halved, seeded and sliced into wedges (next time, I’ll peel them when they’re raw) You could completely omit this, or add any kind of hearty squash that you like.
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 large, sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 family size package of Vigo Saffron Rice (or whatever rice you like)
  • 1 small package of frozen Petit Peas, thawed
  • 1/2 package of frozen cherries, thawed (wish I’d had more, they really made the meal!)
  • Two big pinches of turmeric (optional, I’m trying to work more of this anti-inflammatory into our diet)
  • sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a lined baking sheet toss the potatoes, pumpkin, garlic, salt and olive oil – with clean hands and put into the preheated oven, for 40 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, and Rice with Cherries and Peas from ColorMePink.com

Meanwhile, heat a large pot with a secure lid on med/high heat.  Add enough olive oil to saute onions and when it’s hot, add the onions. Cook until they start to caramelize.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, and Rice with Cherries and Peas from ColorMePink.com

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, and Rice with Cherries and Peas from ColorMePink.com

Add the rice package, and stir quickly until the rice starts to appear pearly.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, and Rice with Cherries and Peas from ColorMePink.com

Add four cups of water, bring to a boil, stir.  Lower the heat to low, put the lid on and allow to simmer for 25 minutes (or however long your rice says to cook for)

Remove the vegetables from the oven when they’re done, add them to the rice, with the turmeric,  stir gently. Then add the peas and cherries, stir again, gently. Serve.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, and Rice with Cherries and Peas at ColorMePink.com



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Easy Gazpacho

This was so good that I don’t even need to tell you that it’s vegan, healthy, gluten free,  and that the only carbs in it come from the veggies and fruit.  But it’s true, so I’ll tell you.  Do not miss this cool, summery, Easy Gazpacho!

  • 1/2 honeydew melon, peeled and very rough chopped
  • 2 red bell pepper very rough chopped
  • 11 (that’s what I had left) peppadew peppers
  • 1 large cucumber (I like the English cuke for this, skin on – but any really good cucumber will do) halved length wise, very rough chopped
  • 5 tomatoes seeded, very rough chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion peeled, very rough chopped
  • 2 cloves elephant garlic (or 4 regular), very rough chopped
  • 46(ish) oz. of good vegetable juice – check the ingredients list – we want this healthy and fresh!
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 2 big pinches of salt
  • lots of fresh cracked pepper (I like the mixed)

The best way to do this is with a food processor – Get it out, with the big bowl attachment and put a large pot with a lid on the stove.  You will not be heating this pot at any time. (I know, so easy, right?)

You’re going to want to do this in batches as the different textures of the produce will have different results and times in the processor.

Process the melon

Gazpacho from ColorMePink.com

until it’s in small chunks and transfer to the pot.

You can process the bell peppers with the peppadews and transfer, then the cucumber and transfer…

Gazpacho from ColorMePink.com

The tomatoes and transfer…

Gazpacho from ColorMePink.com

Then the onions and garlic and transfer…

Gazpacho from ColorMePink.com

And add the vegetable juice, olive oil,  vinegar, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Gazpacho from ColorMePink.com

Cover and refrigerate, overnight to let the flavors blend.

Ladle some into a bowl and serve.

Gazpacho from ColorMePink.com

Perfect with a salad on a hot summers day. Next time, I think I’d add some cilantro and sliced avocado before serving.  Surprisingly filling too.



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Ocala Food Cooperative!

I’ve talked about this on ColorMePink! before, but I used to belong to a local food cooperative.  Sadly, I moved too far away for that to be a feasible option any longer – I just didn’t have a whole day that I could invest in going to pick up every week.  The day before yesterday, I got a call from the man who runs it, informing me that they now have a pick up right on Silver Springs Blvd.  So, yeah!  We now have an Ocala food cooperative pick up in town! I tried it out this week and just picked up my produce.

Look at these beauties! Seedless watermelon, 1/2 lb. curly kale, 5 gorgeous, huge carrots, two red onions, 3 huge tomatoes, three shiny, big eggplants, two bunches of bananas, and a small jar of local honey. Guess how much. $25.00!  Chemical free, locally grown.  I can’t wait to whip up something outstanding this weekend!

Yummy Produce @ ColorMePink.com

Pick up is at A New Earth on the boulevard.  I didn’t really have time to check it out, but they have all kinds of offerings, from feed, dairy products, soaps.  All local!  Yay!  Check them out and be sure to check out Citrus County Locally Grown (the food co-op)



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