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Posts tagged ‘eggplant’

Rolled Eggplant with Tofu Ricotta and Fast Homemade Tomato Sauce

Tired of plain old ravioli or lasagna? Try an eggplant roll-up instead!

Rolled Eggplant with Tofu Ricotta and Fast Homemade Tomato Sauce

Eggplant is a vegetable that has slowly grown on me, and a dish that helped the growing process was an Italian meal I had at a B&B in Charlottesville back in May. The dish consisted of thin slices of eggplant that were wrapped around a bundle of ricotta, then served on a bed of fettucini with sun-dried tomatoes. So when I was trying to think of a way to a) make myself a nice dinner, and b) use a small eggplant I’d purchased at the Farmers Market, I decided to try and make my own version of this dish, but without the pasta and without the cheese!

This recipe has four steps and is more involved than most of what I post, but it is definitely worth the time and effort. In all this took me about two hours to prepare (and I’m a slow prepper), from the ricotta to the sauce to the eggplant to the whole kit ‘n caboodle. If you’ve got some time in the evening, definitely use it to make this dish!

The first thing I made was the tomato sauce. Using the basic idea behind my ridiculously easy tomato basil sauce, I blended together half of a fresh tomato, a slice of onion, and two crushed cloves of garlic. You’ll want to blend until the ingredients are smooth, unless you like really chunky sauce on lasagna-esque dishes. I then transferred the sauce to a small saucepan and heated it over medium, adding tomato paste, salt, and pepper to it to deepen both the flavor and the color. I let this simmer while I made my tofu ricotta, which gave it about ten minutes; but you can let it simmer longer if you like! This will yield about one cup of sauce.

I then made my tofu ricotta, which was equally fast and easy. I simply blended some extra firm tofu, almond milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and dried oregano in a blender until the mixture was creamy and smooth. I then placed it in a bowl and let it chill in the fridge until it was ready for my roll-ups. Just a note, this ricotta is flavored heavily with garlic and oregano, so it’s really only suitable for pasta dishes and the like (as opposed to an all-purpose ricotta sub).

This ricotta can also be used in vegan stuffed shells, or doubled to make a vegan lasagna

Now, the eggplant! I used a small eggplant that was about six inches tall and as wide around as a small jelly jar lid. You can make this with a large eggplant, but you may want to cut it in half first before cutting your eggplant strips. Since my eggplant was smaller, I simply cut off the top stem, then sliced vertically into thin, long strips, like the one pictured below.

I then placed each strip on a baking sheet and baked them for eight minutes at 425 F, a time and temperature I got from Appetite for Reduction‘s Eggplant Bacon recipe. After eight minutes I tested for “doneness” by pushing up on each strip with a spatula. If it folded over easily, I put it on a plate; if it was still firm, I flipped it over and baked for three minutes more. The goal is to bake and dehydrate the eggplant strips enough so that they can be easily rolled.

Examples of "done" eggplant strips

Now comes the fun part. To make my eggplant rolls, I first took a strip of eggplant and laid it flat on a plate. I then placed a dollop of tofu ricotta a little ways from one end of the strip, as pictured below. I then folded up the end with less length over the ricotta, then folded the longer end overtop to create a roll-up, sort of like rolling a sleeping bag or wrapping a present. I then placed the roll-up with the two ends down on the pan, so that the roll would stay closed while baking.

Simply repeat this until no eggplant remains (you may have some extra ricotta, which is fine), placing your roll-ups in rows in a baking dish. I then baked the rolls as-is for twenty minutes to cook the eggplant further and get the ricotta nice and hot.

Rolled Eggplant, Round 1

I then covered my baked eggplant rolls with the tomato sauce, and also added some vegan mozzarella cheese (this is entirely optional; I just had some extra from a vegan pizza I made awhile ago) and more dried oregano (also optional but I recommend this more than the vegan cheese) on top. I baked for twenty more minutes, and then at last, it was done!

Rolled Eggplant, Round 2!

This dish is great when you’re looking for a filling Italian dish that’s not loaded with starchy noodles, and also convenient to serve since it’s already prepared as bite-size pieces (so you don’t have to slice it like a lasagna). You can either serve them alone or atop a bed of pasta. It’s got quite a few steps involved but it’s worth it in the end!

Rolled Eggplant with Tofu Ricotta and Fast Homemade Tomato Sauce (Serves 2 or more)

Fast Homemade Tomato Sauce:

½ large tomato or one medium tomato

1 1/4-inch slice yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 TB tomato paste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Blend the tomato, onion, and garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan and heat on medium. Add tomato paste, salt, and pepper, and stir until combined. Once sauce begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least ten minutes, until sauce is smooth and a deeper shade of red. Store at room temperature until ready to use. Makes approximately one cup.

Tofu Ricotta:

½ of a 14 oz block extra firm tofu, patted dry (do not press)

1 TB lemon juice

2 TB nondairy milk

2 TB nutritional yeast

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp salt

1-2 tsp dried oregano

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Chill until ready to use.

Eggplant Rolls:

1 small eggplant (or a large eggplant cut in half across the middle before slicing into strips)

Cooking oil/cooking spray

Salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 F and spray a baking sheet with cooking oil. Cut the eggplant into long, thin strips. Place eggplant on baking sheet and spray the tops with more oil; season with salt. Bake for eight minutes. Check the eggplant – if a piece folds easily with a spatula, then transfer it to a plate until ready to roll. Otherwise flip and bake for three minutes more.

Reduce heat to 350 F and spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Take a piece of eggplant, add a tablespoon (or so) of ricotta between the center of the strip and one end. Fold the shorter end over the ricotta, then fold the longer end overtop to create your roll. Place the eggplant roll in the baking dish with the ends down, so the roll is held shut. Repeat until no eggplant remains.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, then cover with all of the tomato sauce. Top with vegan cheese and/or dried oregano if desired. Bake for 20 minutes more. Serve immediately.

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Eggplant and Green Bean Stir-Fry with Soba Noodles

Nothing like a good stir-fry loaded with veggies!

Eggplant and Green Bean Stir-Fry with Soba Noodles

I often extol the virtues of a stir-fry; and while my go-to for a long time has been a simple Tofu and Broccoli stir-fry, I’ve been trying to expand the list of ingredients I fry up in the skillet. Eggplants fit this bill perfectly, especially since eggplant in general is not a food I tend to eat. I’ve only recently begun buying eggplant on my own free will to prepare in dishes, and when I found some adorable miniature eggplant at the farmer’s market last week, I decided that a stir-fry was just the ticket.

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny purple stemmy eggplants!

To start, I cut up two miniature eggplants into coins. Do this first if you’ll be ready to add them to the skillet within five minutes; otherwise they’ll start turning brown from oxidation. This doesn’t hurt them, it just makes them look a little less appealing. Anyhoo, I then diced up the whites of two spring onions, setting aside the stems for later to add as a garnish; and two cloves of garlic. I heated up my go-to blend of olive and toasted sesame oils on medium, then sauteed the onions and garlic for about one minute before adding the eggplant.

After letting the eggplant cook a bit, I added Braggs liquid aminos, mirin, and rice vinegar to really give this somewhat neutral vegetable a punch of flavor. I then allowed the eggplant to cook for awhile before adding additional ingredients – eggplants are very moist, and need more time than sturdier veggies to heat through and really soak up the flavor! After a few minutes I added the green beans, stirring to get them coated. I wasn’t particularly concerned with getting the seasonings cooked into the green beans because I think they have a swell-enough flavor on their own; they just needed to heat through a bit. Up next, I added a couple large dashes of cayenne to spice it up, then topped off the stir-fry with my not-so-secret but all-too-important ingredient: nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast adds some amazing flavor as well as texture to a stir-fry, especially one with soft ingredients like eggplant. Give it a try!

While the veggies finished up and the soba noodles finished boiling (you can prepare your noodles while stir-frying everything up), I chopped my spring onion stems into small circles to add as a garnish. To make the meal, I spooned out some soba noodles, topped them with my sauteed vegetables, and garnished with the spring onion stems and sesame seeds. This meal is great for a relatively fast, hot lunch that satisfies; and it features seasonal ingredients front and center. Enjoy!

Eggplant and Green Bean Stir-Fry with Soba Noodles (Serves 1)

Prepared soba noodles, hot

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 spring onions, white parts chopped, green leafy stems set aside

2 miniature eggplants, cut into coins (or 1 cup eggplant chunks)

1 TB Bragg’s liquid aminos, or soy sauce

1 tsp mirin

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 cup green beans, chopped into matchstick pieces

Cayenne, to taste

2 TB nutritional yeast

Sesame seeds

If your soba noodles are not yet prepared, boil them while you cook your vegetables.

Heat oils on medium in a skillet. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about a minute. Add the eggplant, stirring to coat with oil and mix with the onions and garlic. Add the Braggs, mirin, and rice vinegar. Cook for a few minutes, allowing the eggplant to brown. Add the green beans, mixing well. Add the cayenne and mix, then sprinkle with nutritional yeast and toss. Cook for up to a minute more. While the vegetables finish cooking, chop the spring onion stems into small pieces.

Spoon vegetables over soba noodles. Garnish with spring onion stems and sesame seeds. Serve hot.