QUINOA STUFFED EGGPLANT – Get Ready For Summer!

quinoa stuffed eggplant text

Last week I wrote about CHOCOLATE WACKY CAKE after being asked to use and critique a coconut balsamic vinegar. I know vinegar, particularly balsamic, sounds like a crazy ingredient for a chocolate cake, but it’s amazing – try it, and thank me later.

This week I’m posting about about QUINOA STUFFED EGGPLANT, which also calls for vinegar. It’s an easy recipe, and excellent to add to your repertoire for when your friends come calling with bags of eggplant from their garden.

NOTE: You can substitute rice or sorghum for the quinoa.

QUINOA STUFFED EGGPLANT

  • 1 large eggplant, or 2-3 smaller ones
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 c quinoa, raw
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic, pressed
  • 1 T fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup hard cheese (such as Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino-Romano), grated
  • 2 T pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 T parsley, chopped

Slice eggplant in half lengthwise. Score each half by making slashes diagonally through pulp, half an inch apart. Do the same going the opposite way. MAKE SURE YOU DON’T CUT THROUGH THE SKIN! Brush a liberal amount of olive oil on cut sides, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place the eggplant cut side down. Bake on lowest rack at 400º for 40-50 minutes, until softened. Drain by laying the eggplant cut side down, on a terry cloth towel that’s topped with a couple of layers of paper towels.

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Sauté onion in the 1 T olive oil. Add garlic, basil, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook 30 seconds only, then stir in cooked quinoa, tomatoes, 3/4 cup cheese, pine nuts, and vinegar.

Turn eggplant cut side up, and smash down pulp with a spoon to make eggplant into a bowl. Divide the quinoa filling between the eggplant halves, compacting and mounding it.

Top with remaining cheese and return eggplant to parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 400º in the upper third of oven for 5-10 minutes, until cheese browns.

Sprinkle on fresh basil and serve.

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EGGPLANT INVOLTINI – A New Favorite!

eggplant involtini text

I’d never heard of involtini before recently marathon-watching American’s Test Kitchen. (LOVE that show!)

Involtini is a food (such as eggplant or a meat) that’s sliced thin and rolled around a stuffing. They demonstrated a quick and easy version of Eggplant Involtini, which I immediately tried. Fabulous! Naturally, I tweaked the recipe a bit.

It’s fast enough for a weeknight dinner, and special enough for company. A perfect recipe to add to your repertoire.

NOTE: I followed America’s Test Kitchen suggestion to peel the eggplant. But since the skin contains the antioxidant nasunin, I also tested a version without peeling to see if there was a need for this step. Result: leave the peel alone! The Eggplant Involtini tasted delicious both ways – so why bother with the extra work?!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: Buy eggplants no more than 1 day before usage – they don’t keep well.

EGGPLANT INVOLTINI – makes about 10 rolls

  • 2 long (about 8″) eggplants
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 T additional vegetable oil
  • 1  28-oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp (or 1/2 tsp for the adventurous) dried pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 T red wine
  • 1/2 cup pecorino-romano cheese, shredded
  • 1 slice hardened bread (I used whole wheat and pita – both worked)
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (don’t use dried!)
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • extra pecorino-romano and basil to sprinkle on top

Cut top and bottom off eggplants. In order to keep eggplants steady as you slice them, cut off about 1/3″ from one side in the bulbous area. Lay this cut end down. Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/2″ wide slabs – there will be 4-5, depending on how fat the eggplants are.

Lay slices on a very large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush eggplant with some of the 1/3 cup vegetable oil, then salt and pepper. Turn slices over, then brush again with vegetable oil, and salt and pepper. You may not use up all of the oil.

Bake in a preheated 375° fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

While eggplant is baking, cut up whole tomatoes into small pieces (remove the stem end, and any skin or blemishes), saving the juice. In a very large skillet over medium flame, heat the 1 T vegetable oil. Add in garlic, oregano, dried pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté 1 minute – don’t let garlic burn. Pour in the tomatoes and juice, and wine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce flame. Let cook 15 minutes.

FINAL NOTE – I PROMISE: If you like this dish, double or triple (or more) the marinara sauce and freeze in portions for future use.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the pecorino-romano, ricotta, basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp salt. Break bread slice into small pieces. Grind them into crumbs in a blender or food processor. Add bread crumbs to cheese mixture.

After eggplant has been out of the oven for 5 minutes, carefully flip each piece. Put about 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on the wider end of the eggplant strips. Roll up eggplant and place in skillet with the marinara sauce, seam side down. Continue with each slice.

Cover skillet and, over medium flame, heat the Eggplant Involtini for 5 minutes. While that’s cooking, turn on broiler, placing rack about 5″ from top element.

Broil for 5 minutes.

To serve, sprinkle with additional pecorino-romano and basil.