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!

 




Loaded Chicken Pot Pie with Creamy Polenta Topping

Chicken Pot Pie, PolentaChicken Pot Pie is one of my favorite dishes. The tender bites of chicken, firm vegetables, creamy gravy, and the flaky, buttery pastry crust make the perfect comfort food. The only draw back is the guilt I feel after I eat it. So I decided to make a chicken pot pie that was equally satisfying, but with more vegetables, less salt, less fat, and a creamy polenta topping that equals a healthier, delicious comfort food with less guilt.

Let’s start with the filling.

Ingredients for Chicken filling:

1 – lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 – cups broccoli florets (fresh)
1/2 – medium onion diced
3 – carrots
2 – stalks celery
6 – oz. crimini mushrooms
2 – cloves garlic
1/2 – cup frozen peas
2 – cups chicken stock (no salt added)
1/2 – cup 2% milk
2 – tbls. butter
2 – tbls. flour
Salt
Black pepper
3/4 – tsp. herbs de Provence

Directions:

First prepare the vegetables. Dice the onion, slice the celery, carrots, and mushrooms, and cut the broccoli florets into bite sized pieces.

Add one cup chicken stock and 1/2 cup milk to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. This will be used to cook the polenta.

Next heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Mince garlic and add to the oil. Cut the chicken breast into bite sized pieces, and add to the skillet. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Cook the chicken until it is no longer pink, stirring often. This will only take about 3-5 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables and a little more salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Make a little space in the skillet and add the butter and flour.

Stir and let cook about 1 minute then add the chicken stock, and milk.

Next add thefrozen peas, mix well and bring to a boil.

Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook until it starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat when done, cover and set aside until the polenta is ready.

Time to Cook the Polenta

Now the chicken stock and milk mixture should be boiling, so it is time to start cooking the polenta. I use regular corn meal. It takes a little longer to cook, so if you want to cut the time down you can use the quick cooking corn meal.

Ingredients for Polenta:

3/4 – cup corn meal
1 – cup chicken stock
1/2 – cup 2% milk
1 – tbls. butter
1/2 – cup pecorino romano cheese
3/4 – cup fontina cheese
1/2 – tsp. salt (or to taste)

Reduce the heat on the chicken stock and milk and add one-half teaspoon of salt. Next slowly add the polenta, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Continue to stir and cook the polenta until it becomes tender. It will take about 15-20 minutes. If the polenta seems too thick, add a little more chicken stock as necessary.

Once the polenta is ready, add the butter and cheese and stir until well incorporated. The consistency should be smooth and creamy.

Assembly

Fill individual oven-safe crocks with the chicken filling. Place the crocks on a cookie sheet for safer handling.

Top off with the polenta and bake under the broiler until the polenta starts to brown on top.

Keep an eye on them because this will only take a few minutes.

Serves immediately.
Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings




Pork Fried Rice

 

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This recipe is a great all-in-one meal for any night of the week. You can use leftover rice and leftover roast pork to make this dish, which makes it even easier and faster to make, or you can make it all fresh. Chicken is also a great substitute for the pork.

Ingredients:
3 1/2 – cups cooked rice
2 – eggs
1 – lb. pork cutlet
2 – scallions
1 – cup frozen green peas
1/2 – tsp. Adobo seasoning
3 – tbls. low-salt soy sauce
1 – tbls. sesame oil
3 – tsp. hoisin sauce

Marinade for pork:
2 – tbls. low-salt soy sauce
2 – tbls. cornstarch

Directions:
Soak the raw rice in water for about 10 minutes to reduce the starch, then drain and cook it according to package directions. Be sure to add a little salt to the water. While the rice is cooking, make thin, diagonal slices of the pork and place in a bowl.  Mix together the marinade and add it to the sliced pork. Cover and let it marinate about 10-15 minutes.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Heat a little canola oil in a large skillet and add the eggs. Let cook about 20 seconds and then mix with a fork to form small pieces. Remove the egg from the skillet and set aside. Add a little more oil to the skillet and add the carrot and Adobo seasoning. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring often. Push the carrots to one side, add the pork and cook until the pork is no longer pink. This should only take about 3 minutes. Add the peas, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame oil. Mix well and cook another 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice, scallion, and cooked egg, mix through and cook about one minute more.

Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings