January 27, 2011

Eggplant Involtini with Feta & Pistachios, Deconstructed {Webisode #57}

What’s Going on Today: Cold, cold, cold. Edit book manuscript, keep the kiddo entertained indoors.

Naptime Goals: Assemble Eggplant Involtini, laundry, house cleaning, emails

Tonight’s Menu: Eggplant Involtini (Deconstructed), Salad

More Great Meatless Entrees: Artichoke-Lemon Pesto with Pasta, Artichoke Lasagna, Eggplant Parmesan, Caprese Pasta Salad, Spanish Garlic Soup, Tomato Soup Florentine, Sweet Potato & Lentil Stew

It is easy to get sucked in to cooking lots of hearty, meaty dishes in the deep of winter. Last week I posted two (2!) recipes for short ribs, twice as many as I published last summer. I think it is some part of my biological make up that I prefer hot heavy food in the winter, and cool light food in the summer. Since I go to the gym regularly I seem to be able to handle this sort of eating pattern. If it ever gets to the point where I can’t zip my jeans you’d better believe I’ll tone it way down, real fast. But, for now, I’ll stick to my warm winter casseroles and slow-cooker recipes in January and love every minute of it.

Today’s recipe was inspired my devotion to the idea of Meatless Mondays. (The movement to eat an entirely vegetarian diet at least one day a week in order to save the planet.) It was also inspired by my fondness for vegetarian food in general, particularly my undying devotion to eggplants. Which, frankly, is a love only outdone by my obsession with artichokes! Luckily, I married a man who joins me in the eggplant eating corner so he is always up for whatever I have in store. In this case, I decided to give my favorite Nigella Eggplant Involtini recipe a twist, or, rather, an untwist, and deconstruct it for a great make-ahead dinner. I grilled up the long strips of eggplant, mixed the delicate bulgur wheat/feta/pistachio stuffing and… stopped there.

That’s right, instead of wrapping them up in individual rolls and smothering it in homemade tomato sauce I, instead, layered the eggplant and filling and used store bought marinara. It was not so much that I was worried about my involtini assembly skills, I’ve done it many times, I just was in the mood to try something different. In fact, the whole day had that kind of feel to it. It was already technically Meatless Tuesday so why not just keep on going in a bold! new! direction! The resulting lasagna-ish dish proved tasty and satisfying. We adored the sweet and tangy filling; it was a welcome break from the heavy meats and creamy pastas. Served warm from the oven with a winter salad and sliver of Asiago Cheese Bread from Panera it had all the makings of a cold weather meal. Just the thing to keep us warm and happy while we wait for the spring asparagus to arrive.

Recipe

Eggplant Involtini with Feta & Pistachios, Deconstructed

adapted from Nigella Lawson

Ingredients

4 eggplants

Olive oil

½ cup bulgher wheat (quinoa can be used as a substitute)

7 ounces feta cheese

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, minched

½ cup pistachio meats, roughly chopped

1 egg

1 pinch cinnamon

10 ounces marinara sauce

Instructions

Product of the Post: Stovetop Griddle Pan (used for Eggplant). Buy it here at my Amazon store!

1. Place the wheat in a heatproof bowl and add 1 ½ cups of boiling water. Place a plate on top and let it steep for least 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat a skillet or grill plan. Slice the eggplant into ¼″ thick slices and brush each side with olive oil. Grill the eggplant on both sides until the eggplant is golden on both side and cooked through.

3. Brush a little bit of olive oil on the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish. Layer the bottom with half of the grilled eggplant and reserve the other half.

4. Drain the wheat in a sieve and press out any water. Then place the wheat in a bowl and mix in the feta, scallions, garlic, and pistachios. Whisk the egg and cinnamon together in a bowl and add that to the wheat mixture. Stir everything together until you can form small balls of it with your hands.

5. Spread the mixture on top of the eggplant slices in the pan. Then top it with the remaining eggplant slices. Pour the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle the top with a little bit of feta and any remaining pistachios. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the dish is just heated through.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

We treated this like an eggplant parmigiana and served it with toast. It would also be great served cold!

Naptime Stopwatch

30 minutes prep time, 30 minutes cook time

Naptime Reviews

My husband loved the new form of a great dish. My daughter, well, not so much. We still have to work on wheat with her!