Weeknight Eggplant-Ricotta Rollups

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Eggplant is by far one of my favorite vegetables. Until recently, I preferred the Asian kinds, Italian white kind and Indian kinds, but not so much the chunky American type – you know which ones I am talking about, right? The huge blackish purple giants that you see commonly at supermarkets. One of the main reasons is because I simply didn’t like their texture. To me, they had too much water in them. And their skin was too tough and they tasted rubbery most of the time! That is until recently, when I figured out how to make them less chewy, more delicate and better tasting!

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This recipe utilizes few of the tips I incorporate whenever I work with this particular type of eggplant. Peeling the eggplant first and slicing them thin lengthwise helps in making them softer and more flavorful during the cooking process. This recipe seriously is definitely a keeper for wholesome weeknight dinners, provided you have the main ingredients – eggplant and ricotta.

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Steps are simple – slice and precook the eggplant, spread cheese mixture on each slice and roll it up, place them in a skillet with a good quality pasta sauce, top with any remaining cheese and grated mozzarella and let simmer. Voila! In less than 10 minutes, you will be able to open the lid and scoop out the cheesy, hearty eggplant-ricotta rollups onto your plate to devour!

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Enjoy!

TIME SAVING TIP: You can pre-cook the eggplant slices ahead of time to save precious minutes!

Weeknight Eggplant-Ricotta Rollups

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4″ thick slices lengthwise
2 – 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, basil and oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs)
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup reduced fat grated mozzarella
1 cup good quality pasta sauce
Any remaining cheese mixture
1/4 cup reduced fat grated mozzarella

Preparation:
1. Preheat a frying pan over medium high heat and coat with olive oil.
2. Cook eggplant slices in single layer till they are soft and golden. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmesan, herbs, garlic, salt/pepper and 1/4 cup mozzarella.
4. Spread about a heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture on the eggplant slices and roll them up.
5. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the pasta sauce.
6. Place the rolled eggplant slices in a single layer and top with any remaining cheese mixture. Top mix remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese and cover.
7. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for about 10 minutes till it gets hot and bubbly.
8. Serve immediately with a side salad or another dish of your choice.

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Easy Weeknight Vegetarian Supper

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Have you had one of those days when you are trying to do many things simultaneously when you suddenly realize, “yikes, it’s time for dinner!” If you said “yes,” then I don’t feel like the odd one out! 🙂

I had one of those days last week when I tried to bake couple of types of cookies and lost track of time. I realized I had no leftovers and had to quickly throw together something while one batch of cookies were baking with remaining dough chilling in the refrigerator.

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My conditions – our dinner had to be something nutritious, quick and vegetarian! A quick inventory of what I had on hand resulted in me laying out an eggplant, a red pepper, can of chickpeas (see, I didn’t lie when I said I try to have cans of beans around), red onion, couple of Roma tomatoes, non-fat plain Greek yogurt and a small can of tomato paste.

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Since I had some leftover dill rice, I thought of making a one-pot Greek-style sautéed veggies and beans. It was amazingly simple, quick, delicious and filling that I think I might actually plan on making this again.

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Try it topped with extra plain Greek yogurt for a nice touch!

  • Servings: ”4″
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Ingredients
1 small eggplant, sliced thin
1 large red pepper, cut into long thin strips
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt to taste
optional, dash of cayenne
1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

OPTIONAL: Additional Greek yogurt, lemon juice, feta cheese

Preparation
1. Begin by preparing the vegetables.
2. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil.
3. Add eggplant, red pepper and onions and sauté till lightly browned. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.
4. Now add the tomato paste and ground cumin and cook for about 3 minutes.
5. Add the chickpeas and Greek yogurt and stir to heat through. Remove from heat and serve with warmed pita or rice.

You can “dress up” your meal with a small dollop of Greek yogurt, light spritz of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of feta cheese.

Roasted Veggie Melt with Mozzarella

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I love eggplants! Chunky purple American eggplant, somewhat smaller confetti purple Italian eggplant, long and slender Chinese eggplant, golf-ball sized Indian eggplant, white round Thai eggplant….you name it, I love it! I like them prepared in any way – curries, roasted and added to salads or transformed to baba ganoush, layered in vegetarian lasagna, indulgingly breaded and fried, or simply layered on with other roasted vegetables as a “melt”! As you can see, I am somewhat obsessed with this vegetable and my love goes back to my childhood. My other favorite vegetable is bitter gourd or Chinese bitter melon. I will have to add a post on that as well!

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I bought this beautiful Italian eggplant the other day and was debating which route to take with it. After bit of self contemplation, I settled for a “melt”. I had some fresh mozzarella and sweet red peppers sitting around and figured they would go well together. This recipe is so quick and easy to put together. You start with roasting the eggplant and red peppers. Then, you just layer them with sliced tomato and mozzarella and bake them till the cheese melts into a ooey gooey goodness. Just top it with a bit of prepared pesto and voila, you have yourself a delicious stack (or two) of cheesy, yummy veggie melt!

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Roasted Veggie Melt with Mozzarella

  • Servings: 2-4
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Ingredients
1 medium sized Italian (or American) eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 beef steak tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 medium sized sweet red pepper, core removed and quartered
Eight 1/8″ slices of fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Turn broiler on to “high”
2. Arrange eggplant slices and red pepper on a baking sheet sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to coat the other side as well.
3. Roast the vegetables for 4-6 minutes in the top rack of the oven till they turn golden. Turn over and roast the other side as well (another 4 – 6 minutes).
4. Remove the veggies from the oven. Turn oven to 375F.
5. Stack the vegetables on a greased baking tray in the order of eggplant, tomato and mozzarella, seasoning each layer with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Repeat the layer once more. Top with a piece of roasted red pepper. Secure the “deck” with a toothpick.
6. Bake for about 4-6 minutes till cheese melts and the “deck” is heated through.
7. Serve immediately with a light drizzle of pesto and olive oil.