Let me start off by saying that I’ve never been a huge fan of eggplant. The situation has been made more dreadful by the fact that my husband doesn’t like it at all. So as with all food he dislikes, I then usually rush out and try a whole bunch of different recipes and try to convert him. It’s kind of a sick obsession really. I’ve managed to get through the mushroom barrier. I’ve been sneaking in capers with no resistance and have also blown open the doors for brussel sprouts. The challenge is trying new recipes with enough time in between that I’m not met with heels dug in when I put dinner on the table.
This may not paint the most flattering picture of my beloved husband, so let me elaborate. He actually isn’t a picky eater and is always ready to try something new. After I get past the eggplant, really we only have blue cheese and olives left to do battle with. A person should be allowed to have a few dislikes, so I may leave those ones untouched. He is supportive of almost every new recipe I try and is a wonderful guinea pig. He doesn’t even complain when the ingredients are off the wall, and to be fair, he never complains anyway. He is just grateful he gets to eat so well. So Joshua, when you’re editing this, let me know if I’ve redeemed you enough.
Ok, so enough about our relationship. While flipping through my food porn, I discovered a fabulous series of recipes for eggplant that I really wanted to try. Knowing that I would have to win him over if I wanted to eat eggplant again soon, I chose the one I thought might go over the best. Cafe Paridiso (you can buy it through the Amazon.com bar on the right) has an amazing collection of vegetarian recipes and this is no exception. I’ve made some changes simply because I didn’t have all the ingredients specified in the recipe. The result was still amazing! Good enough, in fact, that I rushed over to my computer to tell you about it. Maybe you can convert an eggplant hater too!
Let’s start with the eggplant, but before I go any further, let me explain that this is an easy recipe. It has a lot of directions but really it’s bake the eggplant, make a filling (5 minutes), make a sauce, stuff, roll and bake. Voila! I forgot to mention, this serves 2 people so double or quadruple accordingly. This doesn’t taste like healthy low fat yuck either but you’d never know it at just over 300 calories per serving. (measure the cheese though!)
Wash and cut off the top and the bottom of the eggplant. Cut off 2 opposites sides of the eggplant. The end pieces are all skin and we won’t be using them so feel free to compost them. Slice 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices, you should get about 4 slices, 5 if it’s a big eggplant. Brush with olive oil (I used chipotle oil to make it taste as good as possible) or herb oil (about 2 tsp) and bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Mine cooked in a 400 F degree oven for 35 minutes.
While the eggplant is cooking, put a pot of water onto boil.
- 5 oz of spinach
2 Tbsp of toasted pine nuts
Salt and Pepper
and 2 oz of grated aged Gouda
|Spinach well drained|
|Mix the spinach with the pine nuts and add salt and pepper to taste.|
I bought a package of pre-washed organic spinach from the store and used 1/2 of an 11 oz container if that helps. Plunge the spinach into boiling water for one minute. Remove the spinach and drain well to remove any excess water. Chop the toasted pine nuts and mix into the spinach and flavor with salt and pepper. Original recipe used a couple chopped sun dried tomatoes in the filling as well but I didn’t have any on hand. The Gouda will be added at the end.
Tomato Caper Sauce
- 2 tomatoes
2 tsp capers
2 tsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
|2 tomatoes, skin removed|
Cut a cross or an X into the bottom of each tomato. Plunge into the boiling water for a couple of seconds and rinse under cold water. The skin should peel off easily. Peel and seed the tomato. Dice the remaining flesh and put everything into a frying pan. Cook over medium high heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
I believe the reason mine turned out so well is because I used a Lemon Chipotle Oil left over from a Barley Risotto recipe I serve it with, but the recipe for it is under a Watermelon Salad post if you’re looking for it. The smoky heat of this sauce was so tasty. Making chipotle lemon oil takes minutes to make and well worth the addition. However that being said, I did add 1 tsp of brown sugar to balance out the lemon and the spiciness.
|Smells and tastes fantastic|
While the Tomato Caper Sauce is cooking it’s time to make cute little bundles with the eggplant. I’ll let the photos do the talking.
|Golden brown eggplant ready to roll. Place the nicest side face down.|
|Split your pile of spinach and nut mixture into equal piles, one for every strip of eggplant. Spread a thin layer of spinach mixture then top with grated Gouda.|
|Roll them up into tight little rolls and bake until just hot. When the cheese just leaves it’s solid state and is about to transition to its melted state, catch it right there. About 10 minutes in a 350 F oven.|
And this is what you get when it’s all done.
|Serve with steamed Boy Choy.|
We served ours with left over risotto but I wish I had used the bok choy…..next time!