oven roasted lamb shank with eggplant parm bake and creamy chard and beans

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Yesterday I was feeling the need for something warm, filling, and different. I saw the recipe for a similar eggplant parmesan au gratin, and I knew I wanted to do something similar. So what goes great with eggplant? Lamb. I had never cooked it on my own before, and I was very nervous for how it would come out. Luckily, everything turned out perfectly, and it was a great addition to this hearty meal! I also had some swiss chard sitting in my fridge, and I remembered this great risotto I made a while back that had greens and small white beans in it, so instead of doing it that way, I ditched the rice and transformed it into a creamy side!

Ingredients

Lamb

lamb shanks (or a cut you feel comfortable with)
rosemary & thyme (fresh)
garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper
wine (normally I would recommend a hearty red wine but all I had when I was making this was a dry white wine and it turned out ok!)

Eggplant Parmesan Bake

one medium sized eggplant
roma or heirloom tomatos (i used a mix of both)
breadcrumbs
olive oil
salt & pepper
fresh grated parmesan (romano will work as well)
fresh mozzarella

Creamy Swiss Chard & Cannellini Beans

one can of cannellini beans, drained
a few sliced of pancetta, chopped (optional)
swiss chard
salt & pepper
rosemary
half a container of creme fraiche

Instructions

Throw all of the ingredient for the lamb in a gallon sized zipper bag and let it marinade for a few hours. When it is finished marinading, pour the contents of the bag into a baking pan, and add some more fresh herbs on top of the shanks. For medium rare, you will want the lamb to be anywhere from 130 degrees to 140 degrees internally. I baked mine at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, with an addition 10 minutes to rest. The size of the shanks will affect the cooking times, so I would check the temperature after 30 minutes to check where the meat is at.

Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise so you can cut half moon shaped slices. Once the eggplant is sliced, place it on a sheet of parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil and put it in the oven with the lamb for a few minutes to start the cooking process. While the eggplant is roasting, slice up your tomatoes and mozzarella. When the eggplant is mostly cooked, take it out of the oven and start layering in an au gratin pan. I layered the eggplant, then the tomatoes, bread crumbs, and parmesan, and repeated. Then I added the mozzarella on top, along with breadcrumbs that I mixed a touch of olive oil and some more parmesan. When there is about 5 minutes of cooking time left on your lamb, put this back in the oven and allow to bake until the lamb is finished resting, for a total of about 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Last but not least are the creamy swiss chard and beans. This takes the least amount of time so do this as the end when the eggplant is about half way finished baking, add your chopped pancetta to a sauce pan and brown. Add the beans, salt, pepper, rosemary, and creme fraiche to the pan and let cook down to a rich a creamy sauce. Add the swiss chard last- it just needs to soften up a bit. This will only take 2 or 3 minutes.

Once everything is finished, you can plate and enjoy!

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swiss chard, fennel, goat cheese & ricotta pizza

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swiss chard, fennel, goat cheese & ricotta pizza

I’m a fan of any and all types of pizza… why wouldn’t you want tomatoes and bread and cheese, all in one? At least that’s how I originally looked at it. Now I still love my classic New York cheese pizza, but I love pies that use fresh and healthy ingredients as well! So, when I was scavenging for food in my fridge today, this is what I came up with! Enjoy!

Ingredients

Pizza Dough
2 packets of active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups of warm water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 cups of flour (1/2 AP, 1/2 whole wheat)

Topping
a medium fennel bulb, sliced thinly
one onion, sliced
one bunch of swiss chard
bacon
goat cheese
home made ricotta

Ricotta
4 cups of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tbsp of lemon juice

Instructions

In a large pot, add your whole milk and your heavy cream. While you are waiting for this to boil, add 2 packets of active dry yeast to the cup and a half of warm (about 110 degrees) water. This will need to sit for about five minutes before you do anything else. Once you see your milk start to develop foam on the top, watch carefully because it will begin to boil soon. As the milk begins to boil, add in two tablespoons of lemon juice and give one quick stir. Let rest for about two minutes. You will see curds have formed and at this point you can strain through cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer. Let your curds separate from the whey and you will soon have ricotta! Depending on how stiff or moist you’d like your cheese, draining times will vary.

Now you can finish your dough. The water and yeast should have developed a slight foam on top, and at this point you can whisk in the olive oil, salt, and sugar. Once they are combined being to stir in your flour. If it gets to difficult to do with a spoon, feel free to get in there with your hands! You don’t want to overwork the dough at this point though, so once everything is combined, coat a new bowl with a touch of olive oil and put your dough in there to rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep somewhere warm to rise and double in size.

At this point you can begin all of your chopping and rinsing. Slice your fennel thinly and caramelize- this will take a while, fennel is a strong veggie and needs time and patience to break down. Once they are soft and brown you can add in your sliced onion (I also added a splash of white wine!), and begin to cook it. Put the fennel and onion into a dish, and start to wilt your swiss chard- don’t even worry about washing the pan! While the chard is cooking down, throw a few pieces of bacon in a skillet and cook until crispy.

Once all of your toppings are ready, your dough should be good to go! There will be enough dough for a couple pizza’s- cut in half and save half the dough for later. Gently knead the dough on a floured surface and start to stretch to whatever shape pizza you’d like to make. For really thin crust I flatten out the dough even more with my rolling pin. Transfer your dough to a cookie sheet or pizza stone and throw on your toppings (for a vegetarian option, omit bacon)! I cooked my pizza at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes and then bumped the temperature up to 500 to finish off and get a nice crispy crust. I knew mine was ready when I could smell the pizza and when I looked in the oven, my crust was a golden brown!

I topped my pizza with some garlic powder, fresh parmesan, and salt and pepper. Divide up and enjoy!

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