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An Eggplant-Filled Weekend

So this past weekend was…as this post’s title suggests… chock-full of Eggplanty goodness.  I had a dinner date with Jellybean on Friday, and as she is a Vegetarian, I was delighted to try my idea of a noodle-less Lasagna on her.  (Don’t bother pointing out that the idea has been thought of before…what’s important here is that I arrived at it independantly.  *Ahem*)  So instead of standard Lasagne noodles, I sliced and grilled Eggplants and let me tell you; the flavour was absolutely devine.  I love grilled Eggplant, and personally I think the dish was way more satisfying and flavourful with the Aubergines than with plain, boring old carbohydrate and calorie-ridden noodles!

If you want to try the dish (and if you like vegetables in any way, shape or form, I highly recommend doing so) I shall give you the rough recipe.  (This is what I used because it’s what I had on hand; feel free to add to, omit from, or otherwise mess with the following list based on your preferences, available ingredients and preferred quantities/proportions.)  It turned out to be a lovely hearty dish that was extremely satisfying, full of great flavour and didn’t taste at all like health food, though it was quite low in calories.

Ingredients:

1 Large Eggplant

1 each red, orange, yellow and green Bell Peppers

1 yellow Onion

2 Roma Tomatoes

2 jars of Tomato Sauce

2-3 cloves of Garlic

Olive Oil

Fresh Basil

Ricotta Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese

So I sliced the Eggplant lengthwise in 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick strips (they thin considerably when you grille them, so don’t be shy with the thickness), and if you’ve never worked with Eggplant before you need to know that you have to treat them before cooking them to rid them of their natural bitter flavour.  Just unroll a couple of cookie-sheet sized pieces of Aluminium Foil and lay the slices of Eggplant out in a single layer and sprinkle generously on both sides with Salt.  Let them sit for a several minutes until moisture starts to bead on the flesh of the Eggplant.  Then rinse them under the tap, pat dry with a paper towel, brush lightly with Olive Oil and stick ’em on the grille!  I used a griddle/grille dealie for my cook top because I didn’t feel like starting up the grille outside.

Grille the Eggplant for several minutes until done (see the photo gallery below for what they look like when they’re done if you aren’t sure what “done” looks like.)  It’s pretty easy to get awesome-looking grille marks on Eggplants…and while such aesthetic features aren’t quite necessary in a dish like this since it’s all covered with sauce and cheese in the end, the caramellisation adds infinite amounts of lovely flavour.  So be patient; it’s worth it!

While grilling the Eggplant I smashed a few cloves of Garlic and threw them on the griddle as well until they were lovely and brown and aromatic (and cooked all the way through).  After they were done grilling, I chopped the cloves roughly and set them aside.

Once all the Eggplant was grilled I began the layering process, beginning with a thin coating of Olive Oil on the sides and bottom of my small rectangular baking dish.  Then a thin layer of the Tomato Sauce (mine was jarred from Whole Foods and turned out to actually be very tasty, which made up for me not having the time to make a home made sauce) and then a layer of the Eggplant.

On top of that I put the Bell Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes– all sliced and all uncooked.  I was worried I should have grilled these ingredients as well, but couldn’t do so because of a time crunch, and just kinda hoped for the best with the raw-ness… It actually turned out very well texturally.  So I’d say leave ’em raw!

On top of that I layered slices of Mozzarella (I actually used Vegan Mozzarella which… despite my wariness when it comes to Vegan products in general… was actually extremely scrumptious!) and Ricotta (low Fat) and then sprinkled half of the Garlic and chiffonaded Basil on top.  (whew!)

On top of all that came a generous layer of Tomato Sauce, followed by another layer of Eggplant, then Ricotta and Mozzarella, the rest of the Garlic and Basil and Roma Tomatoes and then another layer of Sauce, on top of which I grated more Mozzarella.

I popped that baby in the oven on 350° for about 45 minutes or until the sauce started bubbling (ok that was definitely an estimate on time… I wasn’t actually paying attention to the time at all that night… just look for the bubbling sauce!), then broiled it for several minutes just until the tips of the Mozzarella bits began to brown, and then took it out to let it sit to set up a bit for about 10 minutes.

Vegan Mozzarella (don’t write it off before trying it! It’s really yummy and much lower in fat than regular cheese!) doesn’t quite melt like regular Mozzarella.  It “melts”… just…. not quite like what you’re used to.  So don’t gauge the Lasagna’s done-ness by the cheese.

I’ll admit I kind of winged it with this dish, but Jellybean and I were SO pleased.  It’s good, rib-sticking, hearty, satisfying food that you can pretty much eat all you want of because it’s almost entirely vegetables.  It’s vegetarian (though could easily be made otherwise, obviously), and I swear I wasn’t making it up when I said it doesn’t taste like I health food!

So as usual, I got too much of all of my ingredients… and when I needed to make dinner that Sunday, I thought I’d take advantage of the surplus of Eggplants lying around the kitchen!  I went with Eggplant Rollatini, which starts out essentially the same as the Lasagna;  grilled slices of Eggplant.  Same procedure.  Then in a bowl I mixed the leftover Ricotta and Mozzarella with a bit of Gruyere and Asiago, one Egg, choped Basil, a little salt, fresh ground Pepper and a dash of Nutmeg.  Slather the ol’ rectangular baking dish up with a bit more Olive Oil and begin making your Rollatini by taking a slice of the Eggplant and putting about a tablespoon or so of the Cheese mixture in one end of the Eggplant and rolling it up width-wise and line the Rollatini up in the pan.  Cover with Tomato Sauce and grated Mozzarella and bake until the Sauce bubbles and voila.  Dinner in a flash!  Yum!!

So there you have it;  my Eggplant-filled weekend.  It was also a Devil’s Food Cake-filled weekend, but I’ll save that for the next post.

Bon Apetit!

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2 Responses to “An Eggplant-Filled Weekend”

  1. So indeed, Stef makes the most insane shite (in a good way) I have ever seen or tasted before. Since no one else has posted on this blog, I’ve decided to be ‘that guy’.

    What I noticed from your recipes Stef, is that you don’t typically use onions. This is funny because the day I am coming over for the Sunday ‘roast’ you have decided to go with the mad onion ‘but you can pick them out’ route. I am used to this, no worries.

    Tootles.

  2. LOL


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