Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Eggplant

Roasted Vegetable Flatbread with Goat Cheese (from Edible Austin)

A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Jen and Alex Jackson for a profile in Edible Austin. The couple has since moved on to San Francisco (Bay Area friends, our loss is your gain!), but they were delightful to meet and chat with. I hope you’ll check out the profile here.

I was also privileged to recipe-test the flatbread that Jen and Alex shared with us for the magazine. That was the best part!

Roasted Vegetable Flatbread with Goat Cheese (Edible Austin)

I did this when eggplant, peppers and tomatoes were still bounteous, as was that peppery summer arugula, but luckily Jen and Alex provided us with a few seasonal variations that would be perfect for right about now (butternut squash, with sage and caramelized leeks, plus a great sheep’s milk cheese, anyone?).

This version, though, with summer veggies, creamy goat cheese and eggs cracked right over the pizza, is to die for, and will definitely be back on our table next summertime!

Roasted Vegetable Flatbread with Goat Cheese (from Edible Austin)

I will tell you that, although the dough is a little time-consuming to make, it is hands-down the best I’ve made in my own kitchen (and I’ve tried quite a few!). Head over to Edible Austin to read the profile and grab the recipe, and I do hope you’ll try it out yourself!

Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake

I have been meaning to make this eggplant bake for weeks, but something always seems to come up. I love the combination of flavors and textures — tomato and saffron, and rice instead of pasta — and it looked so easy to put together.

Now that we are at the tail-end of eggplant season,* I have stopped getting eggplant in the CSA box, and I had to hunt some local eggplants down (thank you, Greenling!) to make this dish finally happen. I’m so glad I did, because it was utterly delicious.

eggplant saffron rice bake

Dinner is served.

* It’s a hot-weather crop. For some reason eggplant always brings to mind gooey comfort-food dishes like eggplant parmesan, so I didn’t realize it wasn’t a cold-weather veggie until we first joined a CSA.

The hubby, a reformed eggplant-hater, raved about it, and Nora scarfed down two servings.

nora eggplant bake

Om nom nom.

I’d say it’ll be finding its way back to our table next time eggplant is plentiful!

Eggplant, Mozzarella and Saffron Rice Bake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggplants (about 2 lbs total)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus additional for brushing
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • pinch saffron
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 4 cups tomato sauce, divided
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella (or cubed fresh mozzarella), divided
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, divided
Instructions
  1. Slice the eggplant crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Lay the slices out on folded paper towels and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes, and preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. Blot the moisture from the eggplant slices with paper towels and arrange on baking sheets. Brush or spray the slices on each side with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, turning once halfway through.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and stir until softened and translucent. Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes. Stir in the saffron and wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is slightly reduced, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is al dente, about 8 minutes.** Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish or casserole of similar size. Layer about half of the eggplant slices over the top of the sauce. Add the saffron rice, spreading out in an even layer. Spread half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan over the rice. Pour half of the remaining tomato sauce over the cheese and top with another layer of the remaining eggplant slices. Top with the remaining tomato sauce and the remaining mozzarella and parmesan and cover the dish with foil.
  6. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
** The rice will still be undercooked and have a very firm bite at this point. That’s fine, since it will cook more as the dish bakes.

 

Fusilli with roasted eggplant and goat cheese

I have had to get really creative with eggplant this summer. We get a big haul of it in each CSA box, and I’m just not used to cooking with it much. For one, the hubby was, until fairly recently, not eggplant’s biggest fan. For another, eggplant does really well in the heat, and heat is something we have a lot more of in Texas that we did in Northern California.

Despite the fact that this is the third eggplant pasta recipe I have posted in recent memory, they are all quite different, and this one was delicious. Plus, as I modified it, it used up some leftover caramelized onions, and a handful of cherry tomatoes that I didn’t have another use for, so that’s always a bonus.

Num num.

It was perfect with a nice glass of 2007 Ridge Buchinani Ranch Carignane. There’s nothing like opening a nice bottle of wine to make a weeknight feel special!

Fusilli with Roasted Eggplant and Goat Cheese
Based on this recipe from Food & Wine, January 2010

1 medium eggplant, cubed
4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup cherry tomatoes (optional)
3/4 lb fusilli
2 Tbs pine nuts
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
4 Tbs caramelized onions (optional)
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant and tomatoes (if using) with 2 Tbs of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the eggplant and tomatoes (if using) on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Using a spatula, turn the eggplant, scraping it off the baking sheet (it might break up slightly) and roast for about 5 minutes longer, until very tender.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fusilli until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a large sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing frequently, until lightly golden in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a work surface and coarsely chop them.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil in the sauté pan. Add the garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Add the crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add the fusilli, roasted eggplant and tomatoes, caramelized onion (if using), chopped pine nuts, lemon juice and the reserved pasta water and toss over the heat until the pasta is evenly coated. Season the pasta with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Add the parsley and toss. Add the goat cheese and toss gently until the cheese is slightly melted. Spoon the fusilli into bowls and serve.

* We had some caramelized onions left over from our latest grilled pizza adventure, so I just threw them in, but they added a really nice touch. You can always caramelize a small onion to add, if you’re not as lucky as I am to have them already on hand. Just slice the onion thinly, sauté it over medium heat in 1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs olive oil until it’s softened, and then turn the heat down to low and cook it until it’s meltingly soft and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Any leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant

The hubby says I’ve been hitting it out of the ballpark with eggplant lately. High praise from someone who, until recently, didn’t like eggplant much.

My latest endeavor was a recipe recommended by my friend Leslie, who is an amazing cook. Since I just tried an easy eggplant pasta a couple of weeks ago, I was skeptical that this would live up to the effort required, but it absolutely did. Besides, we keep getting assorted eggplant in our CSA box, and we have to use it somehow! This is definitely my favorite use yet, by far.

baked rigatoni

Best. Pasta. Ever.

It took a long time to put together, but it wasn’t hard, and it was totally worth the wait. I started cooking after Nora went to bed on Friday evening, and we didn’t eat until 9-ish, which is kind of late for us. I’d say it took almost 2 hours, start to finish, but there was plenty of non-active baking time (aka wine sippin’ time), and the first time I make a recipe is always the slowest.

The flavor of the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant together was delicious, the sauce was creamy, and the just-browned cheese held it all together beautifully. Best of all, this dish used tons of basil from our garden, plus the rest of a carton of cream I already had in the fridge, as well as all the eggplant from our CSA box (plus a few leftover from the last one), several sweet peppers from the backyard, and all of the Sun Gold tomatoes that had ripened on the vines.

The best part of all, though? Lots of leftovers! It reheated well, too, which isn’t always the case with cream sauce. Nora chowed down, and the hubby and I had to eat fast to get our fill before she stole it off our plates. This is a must-try!

Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant
Author: 
Recipe type: pasta
Cuisine: Italian
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant or several smaller ones (1½ to 1¾ lbs), cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2-3 sweet peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch squares
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 12 oz shredded mozzarella
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray or brush a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil and spread the eggplant and peppers evenly. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and add to the baking sheet. Using a garlic press, squeeze 1 garlic clove onto the vegetables. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast the vegetables until tender, stirring a couple of times, 35 to 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine ⅔ cup basil, ½ cup Parmesan, the pine nuts, and 1 garlic clove in a mini processor. Blend until crumbly. Season with salt.
  4. Blend the tomatoes with their juice, the cream, the remaining 1⅓ cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook the pasta in pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.
  6. Toss with the roasted vegetables, sauce, and the remaining ½ cup Parmesan. Transfer to a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and pine nut topping.
  7. Bake the pasta until heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

 

Grilled pizza with eggplant

Before we moved away from Northern California, my favorite pizza place was Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria,* and my favorite pizza there was called the Boston. It was simple pizza with fried eggplant and mozzarella, plus a little tomato sauce. Add some crushed red pepper and dip the crust in ranch dressing, and it was a great, indulgent meal. What it has to do with Boston, I never quite figured out.

*Yes, on the West Coast.

My sister-in-law and her husband were in town a couple of weekends ago, and we had lots of eggplant from our CSA box, so I decided to broil some as a pizza topping. Grilled pizzas are, of course, our favorite casual meal for guests, since everyone can customize their own. I made a pizza for myself with just a smidge of tomato-basil sauce, the broiled eggplant, a handful of shredded mozzarella, and some basil from our garden. It was delicious.

Yes, please.

Recently, the hubby duplicated the experience for a super-easy weeknight dinner. I had a committee meeting and didn’t make it home until after 9, but there was a pizza waiting for me! He had breaded and pan-fried the eggplant this time, but otherwise followed the same recipe, using crusts we had made ahead and frozen. What a great meal to come home to!

I have since found a great new pizza place in my neighborhood, with the hands-down best vegetarian combo I’ve ever tasted (spinach, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, garlic, and mushrooms with a white sauce), but at least now when I’m craving a little eggplant pizza, I can make my own!

I don’t really do recipes for pizza, but if you want to see what the fuss is all about, broil or fry some eggplant and give it a try! Just slice the eggplant thin and lay it out on doubled paper towels. Sprinkle it with kosher salt and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. Blot off the moisture with paper towels, and then broil until golden brown on both sides.

Rotini with eggplant

A friend of mine recently shared a recipe for pasta with eggplant for me. It sounds pretty boring, frankly, but it looked lovely, and she swore by it. And, yeah, we ended up with a crapton of assorted eggplant in our CSA box, so eggplant pasta went on the menu!

A lovely assortment.

The particular evening we enjoyed this lovely dish was originally going to be a dinner-on-the-grill sort of evening, but then the thunderstorms started. We spent the afternoon at the pool, but once dark clouds started to converge from three different directions, we hopped on our bikes (with Nora strapped in the trailer) and high-tailed it home. Eggplant pasta it was!

And it was good.

We opened a bottle of Ridge Lytton Springs Syrah Grenache and got cooking while the rain came down in buckets. It was a lovely rainy day meal, and much more than the sum of its parts.

Rotini with Eggplant
Based on this recipe

1 lb rotini
3 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3 medium eggplants (or 4-6 smaller ones)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 Tbs basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
3/4 cup parmesan, grated, plus additional for serving

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, slice the eggplant crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds. Arrange on doubled paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes and pat dry.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and the sauté onion until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Stir in the eggplant and cook for 8 minutes, or until somewhat tender

Dump in the tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add salt to taste and simmer until the eggplant is tender. Toss in the cooked pasta and chopped basil. Stir in 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with additional shaved Parmesan.

Lebanese-style stuffed eggplant

I pinned a recipe for stuffed eggplant a while back, thinking that, one of these days, when I had the right ingredients on hand, I could vegetarianize it. Last weekend at the farmer’s market, I ran across some gorgeous baby eggplant, so, naturally, I couldn’t resist.

Get stuffed.

Since the hubby had also seen fit to purchase, butcher*, and grill a guinea fowl for dinner, we decided to just cook the whole meal on the grill. We started off with some grilled shishito peppers and a young gouda cheese, both of which we also picked up at the farmer’s market that morning.

* Don’t ask. I’d rather I didn’t know the details, really.

Don’t mind if I do.

Shishito peppers are similar to my all-time favorites, padron peppers, but they seem to be much more common here. The best way to enjoy them is blistered in a cast-iron skillet on the grill, sprinkled with some coarse salt, and drizzled with olive oil and a smidge of good-quality balsamic vinegar.

For dinner, I stuffed the eggplant with a mixture of grains, sauteed onions and garlic, toasted pine nuts, and spices, and simmered them in tomato sauce.

Oh yeah.

The result was delicious, although I think the cooking would have been a bit more precise and even on the stovetop rather than the grill. Regardless, it was a lovely evening, and you cook outside when it’s that nice. Or at least, I do.

We rounded out the meal with some grilled purple potatoes and a simple tomato and cucumber salad. What a lovely way to spend an evening!

Lebanese-Style Stuffed Eggplant
Inspired by this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

6 (5- to 6-inch long) baby eggplants
3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups farro or mixed grains**
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 14 1/2-oz can diced tomatoes in juice***
1 tsp ground allspice
3 Tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley

Hollow out each eggplant with a melon-baller, working from the bottom end and leaving about 1/3 inch of flesh along the interior walls.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil and add the grains. Cook according to package directions, or until the grains are tender and the liquid is absorbed.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the pine nuts, stirring, until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then transfer them with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Sauté the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Transfer the onion mixture to the bowl with the pine nuts and stir in the cooked grains. Add the allspice, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Add the tomatoes or sauce to the skillet, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, stuff the eggplant with the grains mixture, being careful not to pack too tightly. Transfer the stuffed eggplants to the skillet with tomato sauce and simmer, covered, carefully turning once, until the eggplant is very tender, 50 minutes to an hour. Serve topped with the tomato sauce from the pan, plus an extra sprinkling of parsley.

** I used a 5-grain mix from Central Market, and it worked beautifully.

** You can also use fresh chopped tomatoes, or homemade tomato sauce instead. I had just finished a batch of tomato sauce to can, and had enough left over to serve perfectly here.

Eggplant “lasagna”

In looking for a new use for the beautiful rainbow chard that showed up in our CSA box last week, I came across a couple of recipes that incorporated chopped chard in the ricotta mixture in lasagna. I also had a yen to use some eggplant, and, having found a couple of recipes for eggplant rolls that used chard in the stuffing, I decided to concoct my own crazy dish: a sort-of lasagna using chard in the ricotta mixture and eggplant slices as the “noodles.”

Voila.

Strange as it may sound, it turned out really well. My dad and his wife stopped by and ended up having dinner with us, and they like to keep it relatively low-carb, so this worked perfectly, paired with a salad of mixed greens and baby kale. Even the hubby, who is something of an eggplant skeptic, raved about it.

This recipe makes a small pan (4 servings). If you want enough to fill a regular lasagna pan, double it.

Eggplant “Lasagna” with Chard

1 large eggplant
1 small bunch of chard, or half a large bunch
1 container ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 cups mozzerella
1/4 cup parmesan
1 jar of tomato sauce (preferably marinara or tomato and basil)*

Remove the stem and tail ends of the eggplant, cut it lengthwise in half, if it is large, and, using a mandoline or v-slicer, cut lengthwise into thin slices (like lasagna noodles). Lay the slices out on folded paper towels, and sprinkle them with kosher salt. Let them sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, separate the chard leaves from stems and finely chop the leaves. Very finely chop the stems. Mix together the ricotta, egg, chard leaves and stems, and a bit of salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350. Pat down the eggplant slices with paper towels to remove the moisture and salt. Brush or spray a little olive oil into the bottom of the pan. Lay down overlapping slices of eggplant to cover the bottom, and layer with a third of the ricotta mixture and a sprinkle of mozzerella. Repeat layers until all the ricotta mixture has been used, and top with an additional layer of eggplant slices. Pour about 3/4 of the sauce over the dish, and top with the remaining mozzerella and parmesan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is golden brown. Remove and cool slightly before cutting into slices.

* Or make your own. I was feeling lazy.

Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella

I do love a good, hearty, warm casserole, but with spring in full force here, the time for such things is quickly drawing to a close. With that in mind, I made baked ziti the other day, but with a couple of spring-y twists.

baked ziti

Eggplant-licious!

It made a lovely dinner, with plenty of leftovers for all of us. Nora was a fan!

Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise into ¼-inch rounds
  • 1 lb ziti or other short, tubular pasta
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes*
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh basil leaves, or a nice sprinkle of dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Toss the eggplant with 1 Tbs kosher salt and place in a colander to drain, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water.
  3. Toss the pasta with 1 Tbs of the olive oil and set aside.
  4. Spread the salted eggplant over a double layer of paper towels and pat dry, wiping off any extra salt. Heat the remaining 3 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering, and add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is fully tender, 10-15 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add the tomato sauce and reserved pasta cooking water to the pasta and stir to combine.
  8. Pour half of the pasta mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or casserole of equivalent size. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.
  9. Cover with foil and bake until the cheese melts, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown, about 5 minutes more.
Notes
* I used fire-roasted tomatoes and it was a nice touch, though not necessary.

 

Baked Ziti with Eggplant and Smoked Mozzarella
From Cook’s Illustrated’s Cover & Bake, with my modifications

1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds
1 lb ziti or other short, tubular pasta
4 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes*
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil leaves, or a nice sprinkle of dried basil
Salt and pepper
8 oz smoked mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated

Toss the eggplant with 1 Tbs kosher salt and place in a colander to drain, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with 1 Tbs of the olive oil and set aside.

Spread the salted eggplant over a double layer of paper towels and pat dry, wiping off any extra salt. Heat the remaining 3 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering, and add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is fully tender, 10-15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the tomato sauce and reserved pasta cooking water to the pasta and stir to combine. Pour half of the pasta mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or casserole of equivalent size. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and half of the parmesan. Add the rest of the pasta mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheeses. Cover with foil and bake until the cheese melts, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown, about 5 minutes more.

* I used fire-roasted tomatoes and it was a nice touch, though not necessary.

Oasis in the desert

We just finished a weekend with our friends Bob and Leslie, who have a vacation home in La Quinta (near Palm Springs in the Coachella Valley). Not only do they have a beautiful home with plenty of room for the three of us to stay, they share our taste for good food and good wine, and they are pretty much the best hosts I have ever met. The wine is always flowing, they are both fantastic cooks (who don’t mind accommodating my vegetarian preferences), and there is a hot tub and pool in the back yard. What more could you want?

After two days on the road, this visit was just what we needed. We put Nora to bed* the first night and then sipped wine and munched on olives, almonds, and a cheese plate while Bob and Leslie cooked.

*In her travel crib in a walk-in closet. It was dark and cozy, and insulated from noise.  I am a good parent, I promise!

Nibbles.

I offered to help several times, but was told, basically, to fill up my wine glass and shut it, so that worked for me!

Don't mind if I do.

Dinner that first night was Eggplant Marrakech, made using a recipe from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. It was phenomenal. Bob added some roasted spicy peppers (grown right there in his yard, no less), and the heat was the perfect counterbalance to the sweetness added by the raisins.

Sweet and spicy.

The second evening, after a busy day of sightseeing and lounging by the pool while the little one napped, we grilled pizzas for dinner. My favorite combination was the mushroom, olive, and tomato with mozzarella, but the prettiest entry (which was also very tasty) was the fennel, mushroom, pesto, and goat cheese pizza.

Gorgeous noms.

On Sunday morning before we left, they bid us bon voyage with a Cretan cauliflower omelet from a cookbook they picked up on their recent trip to Greece. It was delicious. Plus, we even left with cuttings from Bob’s fig trees to start in Texas, and some of Leslie’s homemade jams.

Lovely parting gifts.

This was a bittersweet visit for us, since Bob and Leslie embody pretty much everything we’ve loved about living in California. The wine, the food, the gardening… that’s pretty much the California lifestyle, to me. Ah, well. Hopefully we can do some California livin’ in Texas!

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