Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Don’t fear the eggplant

Alright, so eggplant isn’t your favorite food. You kind of don’t like the texture. It bugs you that it’s slimy sometimes and spongy other times, and both at the worst of times. Why use it at all, really, when there are so many other wonderful foods out there, especially to use in a dish like this where eggplant is the wrap? Why not wrap with pasta? Or zucchini? Or wonton wrappers? Or… pasta?
Well, will you trust me on this one? Give eggplant a chance. Joe loves eggplant, so I’ve made a resolution to learn how to cook it. After 11 years of cooking for him, I’d say it’s about time.
A friend from work gave me several bunches of fresh herbs from his garden this week, so those make an appearance in this dish as well. Side note: how wonderful it is that backyard herbs last so much longer in the fridge than the ones you buy in the supermarket!
Oh, and another thing about Joe. He’s one of those people who just will not tolerate lactose. No dairy for him, no sir, except when he’s feeling especially indulgent and self-destructive. So a dish like this is ideal for him (and also for Lisa! Hi Lisa!) so he can get his eggplant fix and also his Italian food fix without the… indigestables.

So. Forget your preconceptions about this intimidating aubergine nightshade. Go on and give eggplant a chance!
Eggplant rollatini (vegan!)
Adapted from Compassion Over Killing
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick slices
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of nutmeg
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 cups marinara sauce
Measure two tablespoons of oil into a large skillet and set the heat to medium. Working in batches, lightly brown the eggplant slices, turning to cook the second side until easily pierced with a fork. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Set cooked slices aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In same skillet, cook the onion over medium-high heat until softened. Add chopped zucchini and stir in 2 tablespoons of water to loosen any bits of onion stuck to the pan. Cook until the liquid evaporates again, then stir in 2 more tablespoons of water. When the liquid has evaporated, add the spinach, herbs and seasonings. Stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes. (At this point I felt the mixture was too dry, so I added another 2 tablespoons or so of water before I turned off the heat. Go with your gut.) Set mixture aside to cool.
Pour ½ cup of marinara into the bottom of a square baking dish. Assemble the rollatini: Place a spoonful of the spinach mixture at one end of each eggplant slice and roll up the slice around the filling. Arrange rollatini in a square baking dish, seam-side down. Top with marinara sauce. Cover and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

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