Any great recipe comes down to the quality of the ingredients – the fresher, the better. I am always recreating my favorite dishes as gluten-free interpretations. It doesn’t work as well to just substitute gluten-free options when cooking up a dish or following a recipe. I go back to the flavors and textures – what’s going to work best. And, knowing a little bit about flavors and textures, I substitute with choice ingredients.
This evening, I was in the mood for some Italian comfort food. It has been a stressful week. I indulged a little too much on New Year’s Eve, which took a few days to fully recover. By Monday, I was busily engaged in some major consulting projects. Tuesday, I began the winter term for the enology (winemaking) degree I’m working on. In fact, today, Thursday, was my longest day of class, a piggy back ride of chemistry – the lecture followed by the lab. By the time I got home, I felt like I was going to hit the floor. I am still adjusting to the post wine cellar work – the kind that has me sitting down all day, mostly in lectures or in front of a computer. Just writing that sentence jolted an electrical urge to stretch.
I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but, I do try to maintain a healthy, happy, balanced life – year-round. January isn’t so much about forcing myself to fix what might have gone wrong the previous year; rather, it’s the turning away from winter. While it’s still bitter-cold out, and the days are still inching into a new season of extended light, there’s this palpable feeling of renewal in the air that is more hopeful than regimen-oriented. People need to stop trying to make January about resolving shit.
Personally, I try to approach January with meditative reflection (about being present) and with unbridled joy. I become exuberant and child-like, in some ways. If it snowed here in Portland, you bet your bottom dollar I’d be playfully tossing a snowball in your direction. Watch out! Life’s too short. So you might as well be in the moment, be happy, and be well. It’s pretty simple.
This week, I have been eating super healthy, flavorful foods. I’m cutting back on the alcohol intake, post New Year’s Eve, and will return to enjoying wine and spirits in moderation. And, I’m getting in some really challenging and invigorating yoga sessions. I’m not changing anything, really, just maintaining.
Back to the eggplant. This is what I cooked up for supper. It’s gluten-free and offers a fine balance of nutrition and hedonism. All of the ingredients I used were fresh and organic.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, chop, and reserve. Season shells with salt and pepper, and coat with some olive oil; set aside.
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Saute ground pork (breaking it up) and garlic until pork is evenly brown. Stir in the reserved chopped eggplant. Season with herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes. Mix in the flax or multi-grain snack chips, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. If mixture is dry, stir in more olive oil. Stuff mixture into eggplant shells, and sprinkle top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.
I served this with a small side of gluten-free brown rice pasta and tomato sauce, and topped the stuffed eggplant with a thin layer of tomato sauce.
Want to pair a vino with this? Since there’s savory pork, rich eggplant, and tomato sauce in this meal, consider a hearty Southern Italian red wine. My mother’s family is from Caserta (Campania), and, I think the wines from that region would be dead-on matches. For example, a red Taurasi would be nice; it’s grown outside of Napoli and made up of mostly Aglianico grapes. Or, a wine from Puglia would also make for a luscious match – try a Primitivo. For suggested brands, visit Snooth.com.