Monday, February 16, 2009

Eggplant Cannelloni

I spent years avoiding eggplant as a mushy, tasteless waste of my culinary time. It turns out I had simply never had it done well. Eggplant is incredibly versatile, and it soaks up flavors beautifully. This dish does take some prep time (so it might be better for a weekend, which is when I typically make it), but it's well worth the effort. Serve it with a tossed green salad for a satisfying, low-cal meal.

*This version is vegan, but you could easily throw in some ground beef or sausage for a nonvegan version.

Start to finish: About an hour and a half
Yield: 4 servings

Eggplant Cannelloni

1 medium-large eggplant
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups spinach, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 jar pasta sauce (about 2 cups - I like to use roasted garlic, but any flavor will work)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Trim the ends off the eggplant. Peel it and slice it lengthwise into roughly 1/4 inch slices.
  3. Lay the sliced eggplant on plates, a baking dish, or in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. (This will draw some of the extra moisture out of the eggplant. You could skip this step, but I like the texture better this way.) Rinse the salt off, and then squeeze the eggplant slices to release even more moisture. Don't worry about smashing them -- they're resilient.
  4. Spray a baking dish or sheet with cooking spray. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on the sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the slices are flexible.
  5. While the eggplant is cooking, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil or cooking spray, until the onion is soft. Add the broth and spinach and cook uncovered until the spinach has wilted and the broth has cooked away.
  6. Remove the eggplant from the oven. Spoon a little of the filling mixture onto each slice, and then roll up slices.
  7. Put enough tomato sauce in a baking dish to cover the bottom. Place rolled eggplant cannelloni, seam-side down, in the dish. Cover the cannelloni with additional sauce. (Feel free to sprinkle with cheese or bread crumbs at this point.)
  8. Bake the cannelloni for another 30 minutes. Serve with a green salad, crusty bread, and a nice red wine.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Field Stuff Soup

This is my new favorite soup of the moment, adapted from a recipe at the fantastic Fatfree Vegan Kitchen blog. The things I changed from the original were based mostly on what was in my kitchen and not on any serious culinary aesthetic, but I really like the way it turned out. It takes about an hour to make, but you can be somewhere else for all but about 5 minutes of that. As an added bonus, it's incredibly good for you!

Start to finish: 60 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Field Stuff Soup
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 package frozen baby lima beans
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 package sliced baby portabella mushrooms (about 6 oz)
1/4 cup wild rice
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (or 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon soy sauce
salt to taste
  1. Heat a large soup pot. Spray with cooking spray, and saute onions until they begin to brown (about 6 minutes). Add the celery and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add the broth, water, and lima beans to the pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients, bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the beans and wild rice are done, 45-55 minutes.