Sara Foster’s Casual Cooking
Sara Foster with Carolynn Carreno
Published by Clarkson Potter
Located in North Carolina, Foster’s Market is a gourmet market and cafe focusing on made-from-scratch food products and meals. Currently, there is a line of cookbooks featuring their cooking ideas and inspiration. Casual Cooking piqued my interest with it’s subtitle touting “fresh simple recipes.” I wish I could say that I have the time to make a gourmet meal every evening, but I don’t, nor do I have the funds to fulfill this dream.
Sara’s focus on simplicity and taking less time to cook is evident throughout the book, with her “Try This” blurbs that offer alternatives to each recipe, in case you should not have on hand what the recipe calls for, or the amount of time that it requires. While some of the recipes seem basic, you will find that they complex in their nutritional value. I found myself salivating (figuratively, of course) at the fact that one dish could fulfill so many nutritional requirements. Sara makes a salad or a sandwich into a wholesome meal on its own. Also included in this cookbook are pages such as “10 tasty vinaigrettes” and “9 quick and easy pasta sauces” to get your cooking mind thinking ahead to creating your own recipes.
The recipes in this book are not dominated by meat and seem to include a fair amount of vegetarian or meatless options. There is, understandably so, a section devoted to seafood as well. The recipe we chose to try was the eggplant rolls.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
- 12 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill. (Or just before you’re ready to cook the eggplant, heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot.)
Stir the olive oil and vinegar together in a small bowl and brush onto both sides of the eggplant slices; season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant for 3-4 minutes per side, until tender and golden brown. Transfer the eggplant slices to a rimmed baking sheet with the short edges facing you.
Stir the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and half of the basil together in a medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture onto each slice of eggplant about 1 inch from the bottom edge, leaving a 1/4-inch border on each side. Roll each slice away from you and arrange the rolls seam side down on the baking sheet. Spoon the tomato sauce or tomatoes over the rolls and place them in the oven for about 15 minutes to warm through. Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and the remaining basil and serve warm.