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!

 




Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash

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Risotto con Zucca Arrostita

Risotto is made with Arborio rice, a short grain Italian rice, that is known for its silky, creamy goodness. The slow cooking method used to prepare it brings out the starch with creates the creaminess.   I’m sure you will agree that it is well worth the extra effort. It can be served as a main dish or a side dish. This recipe is made with butternut squash, but you can use almost any vegetables you prefer, and sausage or pancetta are also delicious options.

Ingredients for butternut squash:

20 – oz. butternut squash cubed
Salt
Black pepper
Olive oil
1/2 – tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 – tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

Directions:

You can buy pre-cubed butternut squash or if you buy a whole one, peel it, remove the seeds, and make 1 inch cubes.  Place the cubes in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, salt, black pepper, thyme, and nutmeg.  Mix well.  Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread the butternut squash over it. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until tender.  Set aside until the risotto is cooked.

Ingredients for the Risotto:

1 – cup Arborio rice
32 – oz. chicken stock (preferably organic)
1 – shallot
1 – clove garlic
1/2 – cup dry white wine
1/2 – cup parmigiano reggiano
Salt
Black pepper

Directions:

Melt butter in medium sized sauce pan. Dice the shallot and garlic then add to the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Sauté on medium heat until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. In the meantime, heat the chicken broth in a separate sauce pan.

Add the rice to the onion and garlic and stir, making sure to coat all the rice with the butter. Cook about 1-2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the wine. Stir and cook until reduced by half.

Start adding the warm chicken broth one ladle at a time. Stir constantly on a medium-low flame, cook the rice until almost all the liquid is absorbed then add another ladle of chicken broth.

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Continue this process until all or most of the broth is gone. It is important to add the broth a little at a time so that the rice will release its starch to create a creamy sauce. It may not take all 32 oz. of the broth. Taste the rice after about 15 minutes to test and continue to add broth as needed until the rice becomes smooth, creamy and al dente (it should be a little firm to the bite).

Once the rice is al dente, add a pat of butter and the parmigiano reggiano and mix well. Add the roasted butternut squash and fold in. Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!




Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

This dish is a deconstructed form of stuffed cabbage that I learned to make from my mother-in-law. The beauty of this recipe is that you get all the great taste of stuffed cabbage without all the work. I made a few changes to the recipe; for example, I add pork to the beef to give it more flavor, and I enhance the sauce with diced tomatoes and chicken stock. This dish is great left over and it serves a lot of people.  A side dish suggestion is mashed potatoes.  They go great with this dish.

Ingredients:

1 – medium sized head of cabbage
1 1/4 – lbs. ground pork
1 1/4 – lbs. ground beef
1 – medium onion diced
1 – cup cooked rice
2 – tbls. canola oil
2 – 10.75 oz. cans tomato soup
14 – oz. chicken broth (preferably organic, low sodium brand)
1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 – tbls. white vinegar
1 – tsp. sugar
1 – tsp. salt

1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper or to taste
2 – tbls. butter

Directions:

Cook one cup of rice according to the directions, be sure to salt the water. Do not over cook the rice because it will cook more in the oven. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons canola oil to a large skillet, add diced onion and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the ground meat, breaking it up into crumbles.  Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper and cook until no longer pink. Add the cooked rice to the meat mixture and combine thoroughly.  Set aside until ready to assemble.

Cut the head of cabbage in half and remove the core.

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Rinse the cabbage and pat dry. Cut the half cabbage in half again and use a large kitchen knife to thinly slice the cabbage.

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Rub a pat of butter over a large 11 x 13 deep dish baking or lasagna pan so that the cabbage will not stick. Then spread the cabbage in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with salt and a little black pepper and mix through.  Next add the meat mixture on top of the cabbage.

Prepare the sauce in a medium sized pot by mixing together the tomato soup, sugar, vinegar, chicken stock, and diced tomatoes. Heat on the stove until it just starts to a boil. Pour 2/3 of the sauce over the meat and cabbage. Keep the rest of the sauce to serve with the meal. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and scatter over the top.

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Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375o for 1 hour 30 min. until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Check periodically to make sure it does not dry out. You can add more chicken broth if necessary.  Remove the aluminum foil and cook an additional 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, cover and let rest about 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Makes 8 servings