Sunday, August 16, 2009

Quick! Bake something before it gets hot again!

Eggplant, specifically. I was inspired by a recipe I saw on Vegan Yum Yum. Now there's a real food blog. But needless to say, for me a day without cheese is a day of unhappiness. So my eggplant rolls are pretty conventional.

Here is them in the pan:

And here is whats in them:

2 medium eggplant
olive oil, salt and pepper
1 cup ricotta
1 cup chopped spinach- I used frozen and should have thawed & drained it. Oh well.
a handful of kalamata olives, chopped. They should be quite salty.
2 eggs
some fresh basil and thyme, minced
a cup or two of marinara sauce, whatever you got.
some grating cheese for the top

Slice the eggplant longwise into pieces about 1/3 inch thick, salt them on both sides and set them aside to sweat for a while. After about half an hour, press them in a clean dishtowel to remove the excess juice, brush them with olive oil and a little pepper and bake on racks at 400 degrees for about another 45 minutes. They should be soft and slightly browned in places, but still hold together well. Think Dr. Scholls gel shoe inserts.

While the eggplant cools, mix everything else but the marinara and grated cheese together. I didn't put any additional salt in the mix because of the olives.

Put a generous dollop of marinara in the bottom of a heavy dish. (My frying pan sees more use as a casserole and pie pan than as a skillet.) Roll a scoop of cheese mix up in each eggplant slice and wedge them into the pan so they don't flop open again, top them with more sauce and the grated cheese. Bake at 375 until the sauce is bubbling all over the pan. It took mine about an hour and a half, but the cheese mix was pretty cold to begin with.

Some things to note- I made my slices a bit thicker than I would if I were to do it again. On the other hand, it made the rolls have a very satisfyingly substantial texture. Custardy with a bit of chew. And do drain the spinach, it makes the cheese mix way too watery otherwise. Also, those "heels" from the outside of the eggplant, the ones with all skin on one side? Make sure you cut shallow cross hatches in the skin side before you bake 'em, otherwise the skin will be a big chunk of annoyingness when you go to eat it. It'll make them roll better too. And finally, if you like your cheese less brown, leave it off for the first half of the baking time.

Have bread and olive oil. Fat is good for you.

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