Sunday, August 12, 2012

Eggplant Manicotti

I love coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.

I may be on my second large cup of the day. I brewed it to sit out on my porch to do some reading and enjoy the beautiful cooler weather outside. It was glorious.

Grad school turned me into a coffee addict. I admit it. I'm addicted. I'm okay with drinking a cup everyday for the rest of my life. Don't judge me, okay?

Sometimes my coffee drinking goes a little overboard. Sometimes the caffeine affects me in funny ways. Like this one time when I was proctoring an organic chemistry exam and my boss had brought in coffee for the students. Most students didn't come down to the front to get it and as a results, my boss and I drank almost an entire jug of Dunkin' Donuts ourselves. Needless to say, back in lab later that afternoon, I had waaayyy too much energy. And when I have way too much energy, I can be kinda funny. Or at least people laugh at me. ;)

Coffee has nothing to do with this recipe. But I figured I'd tell you anyway.

This eggplant "manicotti" is great. The eggplant replaces pasta as the shell. If you want to cut time on making this dish, just pick up a jar of marinara from the store. But the homemade version below is very good. You can make it ahead of time, if you'd like.

Now please excuse me while I go make coffee #3.

Eggplant Manicotti (adapted from Now Eat This! Cookbook)
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/6 in thick slices lengthwise
salt and pepper
cooking spray
1 cup of ricotta cheese (fat-free or low fat, preferred)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil and oregano
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (your favorite jarred or from recipe below)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Roast eggplant until almost tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool until you can handle it.

Combine the ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, basil and oregano in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread 3/4 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 8x10 baking dish.

Spoon 1/8 of the ricotta mixture on to each eggplant and roll up to encase the filling. Place the eggplant, seam side down, in the baking dish. Cover the eggplant with the remaining marinara. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese.

Bake until heated through, approximately 20 minutes.

Serves 4.

Easy Low-fat Marinara (adapted from Now Eat This! Cookbook)
1/4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
1 tsp crushed red pepper
28 oz can tomato puree
1/4 cup water
small piece of parmesan cheese rind
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, salt and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and garlic are translucent, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the tomato puree, water and cheese rind. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes.

Chop the basil and oregano and stir into the sauce. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Season with salt and crushed red pepper to taste.

Makes approximately 3 cups.

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