Friday, March 25, 2011

Eggplant Manicotti

Taking a 180-degree turn away from creamy pasta dishes...

I'm usually against "diet" meals because they are made with weird processed foods and contain a lot of chemicals to make up for missing fats. That being said, this South Beach diet-inspired dish turned out way better than I thought it would. It's manicotti but instead of noodles the "manicotti" part is made with eggplant. Awesome! I've had eggplant lasagna before but because of the excess moisture from the eggplant, I wasn't a fan.

In this version, you roast the eggplant by itself and I think that eliminates the goopiness you'd get from cooking it in a dish with all the sauce and cheese.

1 eggplant (whatever size or quantity dependent on how many people you are serving.), cut into strips lengthwise. (I also peeled the outer layers of skin off the end pieces to avoid the toughness you get with cooked eggplant skin. Yuck)
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil or spray olive oil
1 cup low-fat ricotta
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup part skim mozzarella, shredded
1 egg
2 handfuls spinach (optional)
mushrooms (optional)
fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 350'.

Mix ricotta, parmesan and egg in a small baking dish. You can add spices here. The original recipe called for thyme, oregano, etc. I'd recommend garlic and basil... Once mixed, cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until set and slightly browned on top.

While this is cooking you can saute the additional vegetables you'll add. Cook until soft and then take off the heat until the egg/cheese mixture is ready.

Once cheese dish is ready, stir in the sauteed vegetables (or, if not adding veggies, just stir the mixture itself to break it up).

Turn the oven up to 400' and brush the eggplant slices with the olive oil. Sprinkle salt and whatever additional seasoning you'd like. Roast the eggplant for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Once the eggplant has cooled enough to handle, start spreading the ricotta/egg/veggies mixture onto the slices. Depending on how much you want you can either roll up the slice or just fold it over once. Or just leave it as is. Any arrangement will work.

I folded the slices in half.

Arrange the eggplant pieces in a baking dish and top with more mozzarella cheese, parmesan and more toppings, if desired. The original recipe suggested tomato sauce. I happened to have some fresh tomatoes so I chopped those up and put them on top.

Ready to go in the oven!

Turn the oven up to broil and place under the broiler for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese on top has melted and begins to brown.

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