Orzo With Eggplant and Red Pepper Sauce

14 10 2014

This tasty dish comes together in less than a half hour, perfect for weeknight dinners and meatless Mondays. Comfort food can be healthy, and it doesn’t have to take all day either!

Orzo With Eggplant and Red Pepper Sauce

The following serves 4 (compliments of Cuisine Light and This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 heaping cup of dry whole wheat orzo
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season liberally with salt and cook orzo to al dente, according to package directions. Reserve a little of the pasta water, then drain the orzo.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute a few minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add bell pepper and saute another few minutes. Season with salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Next add the eggplant and cook until eggplant begins to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add wine to eggplant and simmer until liquid is almost evaporated. Stir in the broth and tomato paste and mix well. Add chickpeas and  simmer until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and season with salt to taste.

Next add the orzo and a little of the pasta water, mix well to combine and cook on low for another minute or so. Stir in a good dusting of lemon zest and some of the chopped parsley. Mix to combine and taste, adjusting seasoning if needed.

Dish out the orzo and garnish with more parsley and parmesan.

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Grilled Eggplant and Shroom Napoleons with a Meat Marinara Sauce

12 05 2014

I played a little “Chopped” tonight based on a few ingredients I wanted to use up. Primarily, I wanted to turn leftover burgers into something better. So I pulled out an eggplant, portobello shrooms, cheese and crushed tomatoes…and napoleons quickly became my vehicle! If you were to join us for this dinner, you wouldn’t even know this sauce was made with leftover burgers, it’s that good! 🙂

Grilled Eggplant and Shroom Napoleons with a Meat Marinara Sauce

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1-inch slices
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps, stem removed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fontinella cheese, sliced
  • 3/4 cup diced onion, either red or yellow will work
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 leftover burgers, finely chopped
  • Half a large 28 oz can, or a 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp reduced-fat, low-sodium beef broth
  • 3 leaves fresh basil
  • Kosher salt
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush eggplant slices and mushroom caps with a little olive oil on both sides and season lightly with salt. Grill with the lid open, a few minutes on each side until nice grill marks show and the veggies soften. Remove eggplant and shrooms from the grill to a baking sheet, place sliced cheese on top, however much you like, and set aside. The cheese will begin to melt since the veggies are hot, but you’ll want to finish them off in the oven. Right before you place in the oven, sprinkle a little grated parmesan on top of the other cheese first.

Preheat oven to 400.

Meanwhile, add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil to a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until softened and just beginning to brown, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, another minute. Add minced leftover burgers and mix everything together. Next, add crushed tomatoes, mix well, and bring to a low boil. Add the beef broth and basil, reduce heat to low. Simmer sauce, stirring often, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

I served this meal with a side of roasted broccoli. Cut a head of broccoli into florets and toss with a little olive oil, kosher salt and garlic powder to taste. Roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or so, until softened and beginning to brown, but still bright green color. Be sure to toss half-way through.

During the last few minutes of the broccoli roasting, add the eggplant and shrooms to reheat. Roast just a few minutes until the cheese fully melts.

To serve, place a little of the sauce on your plates. Place a large piece of eggplant on top, and add a tad more sauce. Next add a portobello cap and a little more sauce. Top with another slice of eggplant and finish with a little more sauce, parmesan cheese and parsley as garnish. Serve along with roasted broccoli, or a salad.





Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

30 03 2014

We hosted a dinner party last night and served freshly baked baguette bread from our local baker with the meal. There was no way I was going to let it go to waste, so today I took the leftovers (bread and marinara sauce) and turned them into a fabulous parmesan sandwich with eggplant. This is such a scrumptious, meatless meal that’s fork and knife worthy!

Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

Eggplant Parmesan Baguette

The following is compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Eggplant, sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • Eggs, beaten
  • Grated parmesan
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Aged parmesan, sliced
  • Fresh baguette, sliced into sandwich-size pieces
  • Fresh basil leaves

Slice the eggplant and lay them in a single layer on a cooling rack. Season liberally with salt. Once the eggplant has sweated, blot them dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350.

Add a few Tbsps of oil to a large saute pan and heat over medium-high.

Beat eggs (start with 2 or 3 depending how many slices of eggplant you have, you may have to beat more) and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture until fully coated. Then place in the hot skillet and saute until golden brown on both sides, 5-8 minutes. Place browned eggplant back on the cooling rack inside a baking sheet. Continue to dip and brown eggplant until you’ve used up all the eggplant. Transfer baking sheet with the eggplant to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place sliced cheese on top, as much as desired. Place back in the oven until cheese melts.

Meanwhile, warm marinara sauce in a saucepan over low heat, or make sauce – see recipe below.

Slice baguette in half horizontally, and vertically into sandwich-size pieces. Place in the oven for a few minutes to warm.

Remove both eggplant and baguette from the oven.

To serve, spread some marinara on pieces of warmed baguette. Top one piece of baguette with 2-3 eggplant slices and a few basil leaves. Top with another piece of sauced baguette. Enjoy with a side salad. Pictured here is baby arugula tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

For the marinara:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, add a Tbsp or so of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook for a few minutes until soft. Next add the minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and basil, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Off heat, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce slightly.





Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

5 03 2014

Baked eggplant is an Italian classic, and a great meatless meal option especially if you observe Lent. There are so many great versions, and here, I add a layer of chunky spinach and kalamata olives. A delicious, healthy Italian dinner with a boost of veggies and an extra salty bite, what’s not to love?!

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

Baked Eggplant With Spinach and Olives

The following serves 2-3 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup marinated kalamata olives, with some of the oil
  •  2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Marinara (I had some leftover from a previous dinner, but see below for how to make an easy marinara)
  • Reduced-fat, shredded Italian cheese blend (Sargento is a good option)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh basil, torn into pieces

Lay sliced eggplant on a non-stick baking sheet in one layer and sprinkle with salt. Set aside until eggplant starts to sweat. Pat it dry with a paper towel.

Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle eggplant with a little oil and bake until it starts to loosen slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, add olives, spinach and garlic to a food processor and pulse slightly, until chunky.

Spray a medium casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add a little marinara to the bottom of the casserole. Next, add a layer of eggplant. Top eggplant with a layer of the spinach-olive mixture, and top that with some more marinara (add a glob on top and around each eggplant slice). Top with a layer of shredded cheese as well as a sprinkle of parmesan. Repeat layering: eggplant, spinach-olive mixture, marinara and finally, both cheeses.

Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove foil, raise the oven to 400 and continue baking, uncovered, another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with basil and serve.

This Girl’s Easy Marinara:

In a saucepan, add a Tbsp or so of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add half an onion, diced and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add 1 large can crushed tomatoes (28 oz) and few leaves of basil, chopped. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Off heat, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce slightly. Store any extra in a covered tupperware container in the fridge.





Eggplant Rollatini With Spinach and Cannellini Bean Filling

13 11 2013

I had all the ingredients I needed to make a great eggplant rollatini, except the ricotta. I had no intentions of running to the store just for ricotta, so I improvised and made an even healthier filling for my eggplant rollatini! I processed canellini beans until smooth (along with spinach) to achieve a similar consistency to ricotta, which also acts somewhat as a glue for the filling. I love getting creative and thinking outside the standard tried-and-true recipes…and this twist is a keeper!

DSCN3080

Eggplant Rollatini With Spinach and Cannellini Bean Filling

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4 in thick
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bag of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, 2 cloves whole and 2 cloves finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Half an onion, finely chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice eggplant to 1/4 in thick planks; lay flat on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping half way through. You want the eggplant to be soft enough to easily roll…cooking time may vary, so check on it often. Cool the eggplant until you can handle easily.

Meanwhile, saute spinach in a little olive oil in a large skillet until wilted and season with salt to taste. Transfer to a food processor (along with any liquid or excess oil from the pan) and add drained beans, 2 whole cloves garlic, lemon zest and juice. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and a Tbsp or two of grated parmesan and set aside.

Next, add a little more olive oil in the skillet you used to saute the spinach, add chopped onion and cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes until soft. Add chopped garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in a little chopped basil off heat.

Spray a casserole with non-stick spray and put a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom (enough to coat the bottom). When the roasted eggplant planks are cool enough to handle, build the rolls. Spoon some the spinach and bean stuffing onto one end of each plank of eggplant and roll up. Arrange the rolls on top of the tomato sauce (seam-side down), top with more sauce and mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake 15 minutes, remove cover and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly. Top with grated parmesan and serve with a salad.





Grilled Pork and Eggplant Napoleon With Gremolata

8 07 2013

Gremolata is an Italian chopped herb condiment, typically made with lemon zest, parsley and garlic. It’s a great accompaniment to grilled meat and/or veggies, and a great way to use up your abundant garden herbs. Here I’ve paired it with a combo of grilled pork and eggplant – delicioso!

Grilled Pork and Eggplant Napoleon With Gremolata

Grilled Pork and Eggplant Napoleon With Gremolata

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 4-6 small pork medallions
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced into thick rounds
  • Zest of one large lemon
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Combine the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper in a small bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for an hour.

You can marinate the pork if you’d like, or just move right to grilling it. I like to marinate it for a half hour or so in a little Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, 2 small garlic cloves crushed and salt and pepper – just whisk all the ingredients together and add the pork. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour. Remove from refrigerator and bring to room temp before grilling it.

Preheat grill to medium-high, around 300 degrees.

Coat eggplant slices with a little olive oil, salt and pepper before grilling.

Grill the pork medallions and eggplant slices a few minutes on either side, allowing good grill marks to form and cooking through. Remove and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Layer pork medallions in between eggplant slices on individual plates to form a “napoleon” and top with gremolata. Serve with a side like rice, potatoes or a salad. Here I’ve served the napoleons with leftover barley salad (recipe posted recently below).





Grilled Eggplant, Basil and Cauliflower-White Bean Napoleons

2 06 2012

Yesterday’s appetizer, Cauliflower-White Bean Dip, has become a delicious lunch today based on a few fresh ingredients I had laying around. Grab a fork and knife and dig in!

Grilled Eggplant, Basil and Cauliflower-White Bean Napoleons

The following serves 2:

  • Leftover Cauliflower-White Bean Dip
  • 1 small-medium eggplant, cut into think rounds
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • Olive oil, either basil-infused olive oil or extra-virgin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fontinella cheese

Preheat a grill to medium-low heat. Drizzle sliced eggplant rounds with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill for a few minutes per side until you get nice grill marks.

To build: place one of the largest eggplant rounds on each plate, top with the cauliflower-white bean dip followed by one whole basil leaf. Continue to build the napoleon by following these layers until all the eggplant is used. Dress the top layer of eggplant with sliced basil, fontinella cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.