Eggplant Rollatini

Occasionally I will try to make a meatless dinner for my family.  Sometimes this doesn’t go over well because my nine year old son dislikes most veggies and my husband and daughter are both cut from the same carnivore cloth, but I still give it the old college try.  Last week I made a dish that all of them seemed to enjoy….eggplant rollatini.  I’ll give you a word of warning, I started this dish about two hours before I wanted it to be ready because there are several steps to it, but the final dish was super yummy!

Ingredients:

3 medium eggplants, sliced lenghtwise 1/3 inch thick

2 T plus 2 tsp sea salt

28 oz can peeled plum tomatoes

2 red bell peppers, roasted

2 large basil sprigs

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 extra virgin olive oil

15 oz container of ricotta cheese

1/2 c mascarpone cheese

1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated

1/2 c parmesan grated

 

Place eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle both sides with 2T of salt.  Allow slices to release bitterness (let set for 20-30 minutes).  Begin making your sauce by cutting tomatoes in large chunks, combine with peppers in a food processor and puree.  Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add tomato puree.  Add basil, garlic, oregano and 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and then simmer 15-20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover two large cookie sheets with aluminum foil and brush with olive oil.  Wipe excess salt off eggplant and gently squeeze out any moisture using paper towels.  Transfer eggplant to cookie sheets and bake about 15 minutes.  Allow eggplant to cool.  In a large bowl combine ricotta, mascarpone, nutmeg and remaining salt.  Transfer half of tomato sauce to 9X13 baking dish.  place 2-3 T of cheese mixute onto each eggplant slice and roll up.  Lay eggplant seam side down in baking dish.  Spoon remaining sauce over eggplant and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes in oven and then let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Homemade Ricotta

 

Who wants to make their own cheese?  When people talk about making their own ricotta cheese from scratch I figured it would be some long complicated process.  Boy, was I wrong!  This is a really easy step by step recipe that results in some fresh creamy ricotta that you will really enjoy.  This just takes some time and patience and then you will be able to say you made your very own cheese!

Ingredients:

4 c whole milk

1/2 c heavy cream

1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice

Combine the milk, cream and salt in a very large pot or saucepan.  Line a colander with cheesecloth and set inside a large bowl.  Bring the milk mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat stirring occassionally with a spatula.  Don’t let the mixture scald.  Once the milk has reached a steady simmer add your lemon juice and stir gently.  Stir quickly just to blend.  Let the mixture sit for a minute or two (turn down the heat slightly so it continues to simmer but doesn’t reach a boil).  Stir with spatula for another minute.  Once it looks like the mixture has seperated into curds and whey (cheese curds and liquid) it is ready.  Drain the mixture in the colander lined with cheesecloth and let it drain at room temperature for one hour.  Transfer your ricotta cheese to an airtight container and then refrigerate.

Mama Mia Meatball Lasagna

 

I decided to do a lasagna using veggies instead of noodles and then topping it with some savory meatballs.  The result was a yummy italian casserole and my kids didn’t even know there were veggies inside.  I also made some homemade ricotta to go inside which was fabulous!  I will share that recipe with you later.

Ingredients:

1 eggplant peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 large zucchini sliced into 1/4 inch slices

salt and pepper

olive oil

2 c riccotta

1 c italian cheese, shredded

1lb mozzarella ball, shredded

1/4 c chopped italian parsley

1 jar of your favorite GF pasta sauce

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1 egg beaten

1/2 tsp granulated sugar

3 medium baking potatoes peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch slices

1/4 c chopped fresh rosemary and thyme

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground pork

granulated garlic

1/4 grated parmesan cheese

2 sliced of GF bread (process into breadcrumbs using food processor)

Lay eggplant and zucchini slices on a kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt.  Let drain for 30 minutes.  Pat veggies dry and brush with olive oil and roast in 400F oven for 6-10 minutes until slightly golden.  Combine beef, pork, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in a large bowl.  Form into meatballs and then brown in a large stockpot with some 2 T olive oil.  Once all sides are browned remove meatballs to plate to drain on papertowel.  Combine pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, sugar and salt and pepper in saucepan.  Using hand blender puree until smooth and heat just until warm.  Combine ricotta with 1c of cheese, the mozzarella, parsley, egg, salt and pepper.  Mix to combine.  Lower oven to 400F and spread 1c of sauce in bottom of 9X12 baking dish.  Layer in eggplant and zucchini and then cover with some of ricotta mixture.  Layer with potatoes and then top with salt, pepper and half of the chopped herbs.  Repeat layers and then top with meatballs and some additional sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

When Life Doesn’t Give You Lasagna Noodles You Make Lasagna Casserole

This weekend I wanted to make gluten-free lasagna for my Mom’s birthday dinner.  We travelled to two different stores in search of gluten-free lasagna noodles, but could not find any on the shelves.  I decided to go with Plan B…..lasagna casserole.  This casserole would have all the lasagna flavors, but I would layer the sauce and cheeses with penne pasta in a baking dish.  The result was a casserole that even Garfield the cat would enjoy.

Ingredients:

Bolognese sauce (I made a fresh batch of this sauce using Giada De Laurentis recipe here – except I added a mixture of ground sirloin and italian sausage and added a 1/4 c red wine to deglaze the pan)

16 oz ricotta cheese

2 c shredded italian cheese blend

16 oz package of baby bella mushrooms sauteed in olive oil

16 oz package of fresh spinach sauteed in olive oil

16 oz package gluten-free penne pasta

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray 9X13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Ladle 1/2 c of bolognese sauce in bottom of dish.  Spread half the penne over the sauce.  Ladle half the remaining bolognese sauce over pasta, then add half the ricotta, half the mushrooms, half the spinach and half the shredded cheese.  Repeat the layers once more making sure top layer is shredded cheese.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes and then let cool for 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!