Rice and Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant, Rice, Vegetables, Vegan

This vegan stuffed eggplant recipe is delicious and nutritious. My mother’s stuffed eggplant is the model for this vegan version.  Her eggplant was stuffed with ground beef, rice, and  tomatoes, similar to a stuffed cabbage filling. She made it only once or twice a year, so it was a welcome treat. Today, however, I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version based on my mother’s original recipe. I used fresh ingredients that I had available, and I am very pleased with the result.  You’ll find that the stuffing is moist, hearty, delicious, and most importantly satisfying.

Ingredients:

1/2 – cup jasmine rice
1 – carrots
1 – stalks celery
1/2 – medium onion
2 – cloves garlic
Pinch of pepper flake
3 – cups vegetable stock
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. pepper
1 – cup grape tomatoes halved
4 – basil leaves
2 – tbls. parsley
1/2 – cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

First, put the rice on to cook.  Add one cup vegetable broth to a pot and bring to a boil.  Add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring back to a boil, then reduce the flame to a simmer.  Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes.  Stir often and check that the broth does not dry up to quickly.  Cook until the broth is absorbed.  Test the rice to see if it is cooked, but do not overcook.

Next, wash the eggplant and cut it in half, then remove some of the meat of the eggplant to make a well to hold the stuffing.

Set the portion you remove aside, as it will be added to the stuffing.

Make the soffritto using a food processor. Add carrot, onion, and celery and pulse until finely chopped. 

In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 finely diced cloves of garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flake. Sauté about 3 minutes until the garlic starts to soften.  While the garlic is sautéing, chop the pieces of eggplant that you removed and add to the skillet. 

Stir and cook about 2 minutes, then add the soffritto.

Add more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper to the soffritto, mix, and cook about 2 minutes.  Now add 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir often so it does not stick to the pan.

Drain the cannellini beans and add them to the soffritto along with the grape tomatoes.

Stir to incorporate them and cook another 3 minutes.  

Next add the herbs and chopped walnuts, stir to incorporate them.

Now add the cooked rice and a about 1/2 cup vegetable broth.  Stir and taste to see if it needs more salt.  

Assemble and Bake

Place the eggplant in a baking dish, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Drizzle olive oil on the eggplant, then fill each half with the stuffing.  Drizzle a little more olive oil over the stuffing and some on the bottom of the baking pan.

Place in a preheated 350° and cook about 15 minutes.  Add about 1 cup of hot vegetable broth to the bottom of the pan and return to the oven.

Cook about one hour until the eggplant is tender and the top of the stuffing starts to brown.  Use the broth in the bottom of the pan to baste the eggplant before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Buon appetito!

 




Eggplant Parmesan

eggplant-serving

Eggplant Parmesan
Melanzana alla Parmigiana

When you think of eggplant parmesan, most people think of a piping hot dish of gooey layers of breaded eggplant, tomato sauce, and tons of mozzarella cheese, but not my Mom’s recipe. Her recipe is unique. I never ate eggplant parmigiana in a restaurant or in an individual’s home like her’s. The ingredients she used are much the same as every one else, minus the mozzarella cheese, but her technique of assembly is what makes it different and in my opinion, much better.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it is also good cold. As a young girl I often cut a small piece of it and spread it on a piece of Italian bread or some plain crackers; it was amazing. It is one dish that is best the next day. Mom would give it to me in my lunch for school. Most of my friends were eating peanut butter and jelly or a bologna sandwich, but not me. Mom would take some Italian bread, a thin slice of the leftover eggplant and a couple slices of ham. This was the most amazing sandwich in the world. The creamy texture of the savory eggplant and the smoked ham was a marriage made in heaven. I still drool when I think about it.

Ingredients:

2 – medium eggplants
1 – qt. tomato sauce
1 1/2 – cups seasoned bread crumbs (store bought preferred)
1 1/2 – cups pecorino romano or parmiggiano cheese
2 – cups all-purpose flour
Canola oil for frying

Directions:

Wash and dry the eggplant. Remove half of the skin of the eggplant and make 1/4 inch round slices.Place the slices in a large bowl of cold water and soak for 5-10 minutes.  Remove the slices and pat dry.

Eggplant Slices

Salt the eggplant slices to taste. Place the flour on a flat plate. Lightly coat each slice of eggplant with the flour.

floured-eggplant

Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet; just enough to coat the bottom. As you coat the eggplant with flour, place them in the hot oil. Brown lightly on each side, and place on a platter lined with paper towel. Do not flour all the eggplant at once. Flour just enough at one time to fit in the skillet. If they sit too long the flour will become gooey. Continue this process until all slices are fried.

fried-eggplant

Meanwhile in a medium-saucepan heat the tomato sauce.

Assemble the eggplant. For this I used an 8″ x 12″ glass baking dish . Start with spreading a small amount of sauce on the bottom. Layer enough slices of eggplant to cover the bottom. Sprinkle a light coating of bread crumbs.

breadcrumbs-layer
light layer of breadcrumbs

Next, sprinkle a light layer of grated cheese on top of the eggplant.  You can use parmigiano or pecorino romano or a combination of the two. Next spread another layer of sauce and continue the process until the pan is filled to the top. The top layer should be the parmigiano or pecorino cheese.  This pan fit 5 layers in all.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated 350º oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Remove and let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

Buon appetito!

 

 




Roasted Vegetables

roasted-eggplant-zucchini-butternutRoasted Eggplant, Zucchini, and Butternut Squash

Roasted vegetables are one of the easiest side dishes you can make.  What’s great about it is that with very little effort you have a delicious vegetable to serve along with your main dish.  This recipes includes eggplant, zucchini, and butternut squash, but you can use any vegetables you like.  For example, bell peppers, onion, carrots, beets, or turnips.  You can even add potatoes to really round out the dish.

Ingredients:

2 – small eggplants
2- small zucchini
1 – small butternut squash
1 – tsp. salt
1/4 – cup extra virgin olive oil
1 – tsp. Adobo seasoning
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 – tsp. garlic powder

Directions:

Wash the eggplant and zucchini and cut into approximately 1-1/2″ cubes.  Peel the butternut squash, cut in half and remove the seeds; cut into equal sized pieces as the other vegetables.  Place all the vegetables into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and mix thoroughly to coat all the vegetables (use more oil if necessary).  Add the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Adobo; mix thoroughly.

Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper and place the vegetables on top.  Spread out evenly and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top.

Bake at 400o for 50 min. to one hour until tender.