eggplant

Completely Board Post #20: Baked Eggplant Burgers

Veg-am's Completely Board - Vegan Month of Food 2014

With just a little over 3-1/2 hours left in Vegan MoFo 2014 here in the eastern US, I’m sitting down to write my final post.  I can’t believe I actually made it to 20.  It was looking a doubtful for a while. With very few exceptions, I’ve been really pleased with the recipes I’ve tried from my Pinterest boards, both the ones I could use as written and the ones I had to convert in some way.  I’m so glad this last one did not disappoint.

What you see here is my original pin with my comment: “I think I need to buy eggplant on my next grocery trip.”

Eggplant Burger Pin

That was over a year ago. I’ve been to the grocery store many times since then.  I’ve even purchased eggplant many times since then, but I had yet to attempt this burger from The Tolerant Vegan. 

I mostly followed the instructions as written.  The only two substitutes I made were cashews in place of pine nuts and gluten free (Food for Life Brown Rice Bread) bread crumbs instead of panko. And I used parchment paper instead of foil.  I think I went a little overboard on the amount of eggplant and I ended up with 5 large burgers instead of 4.  It took a little while longer to make than I want my weeknight meals to take, but I have 4 burgers leftover so it will balance out for other meals later in the week.

This is the burger queen of Mediterranean flavors.  It has it all…eggplant, onion, bell pepper, hummus, beans, garlic and cumin.  Really…how could I not have loved it?

The texture is different from most burgers I’ve had, but it works here.  It was crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Yes, I said creamy.  It was like there was a mix of baba ghanoush and hummus (well, duh there is hummus) in the middle.   I mostly eat burger platters instead of burgers on buns, so I’m not sure how it would hold up in a bun, but the original one seems to have worked just great.

I really enjoyed this burger topped with a lemon tahini sauce and surrounded by a tomato-cucumber-parsley salad (with a tiny bit of that tahini sauce mixed in).

Baked Eggplant Burger Platter

Thanks so much for hanging out with me this month.  I hope you enjoyed being “Completely Board” as much as I did.  Happy end of Vegan MoFo!

Baked Eggplant Rollatini

If you have a purist on your hands who thinks rollatini is only rollatini if it’s breaded and fried, feel free to call it eggplant lasagna rolls or something else.  But what I call it is delicious!

If you’re vegan and soy-free and have been sad that you can’t have yummy ricotta-filled dishes, be sad no longer.  Here, and in many savory dishes calling for tofu, I use navy beans.  Navy beans are a little tiny miracle to us soy-free folks.  They are creamy and take on the flavor of whatever you mix them with.  They are what I like to call “the tofu of beans”.  While they may not be the star of the show here, they definitely deserve a nomination for “best supporting actress.”

Baked Eggplant Rollatini | Veg-am

Baked Eggplant Rollatini

Serves  5-6 if served alone or 8 if served with a salad

  • 2 large eggplant (aubergine)
  • 1 recipe Navy Bean Ricotta (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe bread crumb topping (recipe below)
  • 4 cups of your favorite marinara, jarred or homemade – I used the Trader Joe’s Organic Marinara

Preheat the oven to 425F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the top and bottom off the eggplant so it will stand up relatively well.  Slice vertically in slices just a bit thicker than 1/8 inch.  You will get “wasted” eggplant doing it this way.  You can’t use the outside slices because it’s almost all skin and you’ll probably lose some in trying to keep the slices even.  But, I got about 8 slices per eggplant and had some left over that I chopped up to use in baba ghanoush.  Don’t worry if the slices aren’t perfect.  You’re going to roll them anyway.

Lay the eggplant in a single layer on the parchment paper.  Bake for 10 minutes, until the eggplant is pliable.  If you cut yours a little on the thick side, bake a couple minutes longer. If you have a few pieces that don’t fit,  you can put the extra pieces in the oven when you are rolling the first batch.

Evenly spread 1 cup of marinara in the bottom of a  9×13 glass dish

Once the eggplant comes out of the oven, let it cool enough to handle and turn the oven temperature down to 350.   Then, working on the parchment (I piled all the eggplant up on one side of a pan and worked in the other half), top a slice of eggplant with the navy bean ricotta.  Don’t go all the way to the edges because rolling the eggplant will push the filling out to the edges.

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Roll it up, starting from the narrow end.  Place the eggplant roll into the 9×13, seam side down.  Repeat with all eggplant slices.

Baked Eggplant Rollatini | Veg-am

Cover with remaining marinara.  Evenly distribute the breadcrumb topping.

Bake at 350 uncovered for 30 minutes.  If you want a little extra browning on the topping, you can broil it for a minute or two at the end, just keep an eye that it doesn’t burn.

Baked Eggplant Rollatini | Veg-am

Let the dish cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.  I didn’t do it for the picture because it looked messier, but after dishing out the rolls, I spoon more sauce from the dish on top of the rolls.  Another option so you can keep the prettier plating, would be to put the extra sauce in a separate bowl and let your guests spoon the sauce on their rollatini as desired.

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Navy Bean Ricotta

(adapted from the Cashew Ricotta from Veganomicon)

  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 1-4 hours
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ cups cooked navy beans (equivalent to one can)
  • ½ cup water* – see note below
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Place all ingredients, except basil, in a food processor. Let it run until it is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary.  You don’t want any chunks of cashew or bean left.  Depending on the strength of your processor, this could take 5-10 minutes.  Remove from processor into a small bowl and fold in the finely chopped basil leaves.  Let chill in the refrigerator for several hours or until the next day (see note below about water)

Bread Crumb Topping

  • ¾ cup gluten-free bread crumbs (I used Food for Life Brown Rice Bread – 2 slices)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp soy-free Earth Balance
  • garlic salt to taste* – see note below

In a small bowl, using your fingers, break up the Earth Balance into the other ingredients until it resembles a crumble.

Notes:

1.  I make the filling several hours to a day in advance.  I do this for two reasons.  It makes dishes seem like less work if this is done ahead.  And, it lets the flavors mingle together better.  Because this filling thickens as it sits in the refrigerator, if you are going to use it right away, start out with less water or your filling may be a little runny.
2.  I used a 1/2 tsp garlic salt.  This was A LOT if I had been serving just the topping, but when spread around with everything else, considering the fact that my sauce was salt-free, it worked. If your sauce is on the salty side, this is too much.  Just remember, you can always add salt, but you can’t take it out. 
3. If you want to sprinkle on a vegan mozzarella instead of the bread crumb topping that would work too. I’ve used that when I made this dish lasagna style instead of rollatini style.
4. Which brings up the point that this is basically my eggplant lasagna too.  Just cut the eggplant in rounds instead of vertical slices, add some diced tomato to the sauce, and do the layer thing instead of the rolls.


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Girls’ Night In (Pizza and a Movie)

Entertaining Thought #2:

If you’re having an informal event like girls’ (or guys’) night in, movie night, a slumber party, game night, etc, a make-your-own bar fits the bill.  It’s laid back, fun and less prep work for you.  You can set up a bar for baked potatoes, sundaes, tacos, salads, sandwiches and more. Make up some cute little labels for the ingredients and let your guests have a good time creating.

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Last week I was hosting a girls’ night in at my house with one of my favorite movies,

and a few of my favorite girls.  We had a make your own pizza night.

And here they are putting on the toppings…


Crust:
Makes 4 “rustic” pizza crusts



1-1/3 cup garfava flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup almond meal
2 Tbsp gluten-free yeast
2 Tbsp xanthan gum
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1-1/3 cup warm water
2 tsp. canola oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar


    Add all dry ingredients together in a kitchen mixer or food processor and combine well. Stir in liquids while beating on medium speed. A stiff dough should form. Divide the dough into four equal pieces.  Let the dough sit 20-30 minutes to let the yeast work a little magic. You might not see much change in the size, but the finished product makes this worth the wait. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and roll out 4 rustic shaped crusts as shown in the picture.  It would of course work for round pizzas too, but with the rustic shape, we could fit two on the pan at a time.
    Move oven rack to bottom position.  Preheat oven to 500

    Let each guest put on the toppings s/he desires and then bake the pizzas on bottom rack for 10-12 minutes until crust is golden brown. 

    Toppings we had to create from:

    • Pizza Sauce
    • Olive Oil (helpful if you provide a brush)
    • Black Olives
    • Onions
    • Banana Peppers
    • Portobello “Sausage” (Slice thin and then cut in bite size pieces, cook in frying pan with a bit of oil – adding water as necessary to keep from sticking, until mushroom has soaked up all the water and gotten a little chewy – about 7 minutes – then add a little more water with sage, fennel, salt, garlic powder, crushed red pepper to taste.  Let portobello soak up all the water and seasonings and then remove from heat.)
    • Fresh Oregano
    • Fresh Basil
    • Fresh Chives
    • Navy Beans
    • Daiya Mozzarella
    • Eggplant (sliced thin)
    • Sweet Potatoes (cubed and steamed)
    • Pine Nuts
    • Roasted Red Peppers
    • Green Bell Peppers
    • Sliced Tomatoes
    • Pine Nut Cheese (recipe follows)

    Topping labels…



    There’s a pdf below that you can print out to set up your own pizza bar.  If you just want blanks so you can write in the toppings, just print out page 4 (go to scribd and download in order to print)

    For some reason, “the other Dawn” didn’t look so sure about these going in… I think it might have been her reaction to the Daiya before it was cooked. She liked it ok after cooking though. Btw, a good tip for people not used to Daiya: use about half of what you would use if it were dairy mozz. Too much will mess with the texture.

     I bet it’s pretty obvious which one is mine.  Yes, I pile on the toppings!
     

    Here are a couple straight out of the oven.  Look how beautifully that crust browned!

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    Pine Nut Cheese (adapted from a recipe from Dr. Ben Kim)

    1 cup pines nuts, soaked for 1 hour then drained
    1/4 cup olive oil
    juice of 1 lemon
    1 small garlic clove
    1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    water to desired thickness (I use about 1/2 cup – it does thicken in the fridge)

    Put all ingredients in the food processor and process for 7-8 minutes until creamy.  Refrigerate for at least an hour so all the flavors can meld together.  Drop by spoonfuls onto pizza.

    Pizza Topping Labels

    Enjoy!!

    1 food 5 ways, Mushrooms, Way #5: Mushroom-Prune Tagine

    I got the amazing chance to go to Morocco 5 years ago. In addition to coming home with a lot of fabulous memories and photographs, I came home with a love for tagine.
    I wasn’t vegan yet when I was there, so my favorite was a meat & prune tagine. This is the version I eat now: Mushroom-Prune Tagine. Ok…I can see you turning your nose up at the prune. Don’t be so hard on it. It has bad reputation for being useful for old people that need a little help with their regularity. But it’s really a sweet little gem. And it gives a tagine a sweetness that I’ve never had in a vegetable dish before. So don’t diss the prunes. If you do, don’t let me hear it.
    Tagine is the word for the slow-cooked stew like dish that is traditional in Morocco, but it’s also the word for the cool cookware it’s prepared in.


    Isn’t it beautiful? I wish I had gotten one when I was there. They’re too expensive here.

    But instead, this is my setup…


    It’s not a great picture, obviously, but that’s my large cast iron skillet and a cookie sheet. Nope, it’s not as pretty as the traditional dish. But it works. Even if you don’t have an oven safe skillet, you can use the skillet on the stove top and then move everything to a covered roasting pan to finish it in the oven. My understanding is that if you own an actual tagine, you’d need a lot less water than written below. But if you have one, you probably know how to use it!

    How much you make depends on the size of your skillet/roasting pan. My skillet is a 12″ one, so it holds a lot. But this fills it up, so if your skillet is smaller, cut back a little. The vegetables you use and the ratios of them are pretty much up to you, but I find this to be a good balance and these all absorb the spices really well. But, really, don’t skip the prunes.

    Mushroom-Prune Tagine


    Not the most photogenic of foods, but it is tasty!
    Ingredients:
    2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
    1 tsp crushed garlic (equiv of 2-3 cloves)
    2 large portabella caps (just under 1/2 lb), cut into 3/4″ cubes
    1 small eggplant (about 3/4 lb), cut into 3/4″ cubes
    2 carrots, peeled and sliced
    2 parsnips, peeled and sliced (if tops are particularly wide, cut into half moons)
    2 small zucchini (about 1/2 lb), sliced. (If zucchini is larger, cut into half moons)

    10 prunes, cut into 4-6 pieces per prune

    3 cups water (more or less – enough to cover the veg mixture)
    Spice mixture:
    1-1/2 Tbs cumin
    1-1/2 tsp coriander
    1 Tbs cinnamon
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp turmeric
    1/8 tsp cardamom
    2-3 dashes fresh black pepper
    Directions:
    Preheat the oven to 350
    Heat the 2 tsp olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add about 1/4 cup of the water and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are beginning to get tender, about 5 more minutes. Add the other vegetables and stir (more likely fold) to combine. Sprinkle the spice mixture on top of the vegetables. Pour in the water – enough to come up to the top of the vegetable line, not above. Then stir (or fold) to get all the spices mixed in the water and the vegetables coated. Fold in the prunes.
    Here’s where it goes in the oven. So if your skillet is not oven save, transfer everything into a casserole dish/roasting pan/anything that’s a comparable size to your skillet and can be covered. You want the veg not to be spread out on something big like a cookie sheet. The depth of it helps it to all get really tender just like in a slow cooker.
    Put your skillet or other dish in the oven and completely cover. The steam should not have a vent. Let it slow cook until all the vegetables are really tender and the water & spices have been absorbed. For me this was about 2 hours.
    Notes:

    1. The vegetables were “done enough” at an hour, but there was still quite a bit of liquid. So check at an hour and see how the liquid is holding up. If it’s gone and the veg aren’t soft enough, you can add a little. But if there’s quite a lot left, let it continue to cook until it’s almost gone, but not completely dry. The vegetables just get softer and sweeter the longer they cook. The texture should be similar to what they would be like if you’d cooked them in a crockpot all day.

    2. Tagine is frequently eaten over couscous, but that’s not gluten free. Millet, quinoa, and brown rice are all good substitutes if you want a to make your meal more carbolicious, but I like it as is.

    3. If you happen to have any leftovers, it freezes and reheats well!


    1 food 5 ways, Kale, Way #2: Creamy Kale Pasta Casserole

    Ever had one of those days when you started out to cook something and nothing turned out the way you planned? I had one of those days yesterday. I started to make something that I thought would be amazing and I met defeat at every turn. When this happens, you have two options:
    1. Give up, throw everything away, cry about how bad it is to be a vegan with food allergies, and eat hummus for dinner again.
    2. Regroup. Salvage what you can and supplement with whatever you have in the house.
    I’m sooo glad I’ve gotten past #1 (most of the time…). Yesterday was definitely a #2 kinda day (ok, stop giggling). And I’m really glad it was. This Creamy Kale Pasta Casserole was even better than I had hoped! The sauce was really creamy and flavorful and the diced tomatoes brightened up the whole dish (almost to sun-dried tomato status without the expense or the added step of rehydrating them). It was a hit with the folks I shared with too.
    Creamy Kale Pasta Casserole

    Creamy Kale Sauce:
    • 2 cups kale (packed but not ultra tight), torn into pieces & thick stems removed
    • Juice of 2 small lemons (about 2.5 Tbsp)
    • 1/4 cup walnuts
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 6 Tbsp water
    • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
    • 1/4 tsp salt (see note*)
    • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast

    Topping:

    • 1 cup gluten free bread crumbs (I used Food For Life Brown Rice Bread)
    • 2 Tbsp soy-free Earth Balance, softened (you can use another vegan, non-hydrogenated margarine if you’re not avoiding soy)
    • 1/2 tsp garlic salt (or to taste)
    Other ingredients:
    • 8 oz rice penne, prepared according to box instructions (I used white this time because it’s what I had, but brown would work – or any other gluten free pasta)
    • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium eggplant, cut in 3/4″ cubes (about 1 lb)
    • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (14-15 oz can)
    1. Put all sauce ingredients except for nutritional yeast in blender. It should blend better if you put the liquids in first. Blend until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. When smooth add the nutritional yeast and blend again until smooth and creamy. You could do this while you’ve got the water boiling, but I did it ahead and let the sauce sit a little while. I think it helps the flavors to meld together a little better.
    2. Start the pasta. Depending on the directions, it may be ready a little before or a little after the eggplant, but the timing should be close. It seems every gluten free pasta I try has different instructions, so time it however you think is best.
    3. In a large skillet, heat the 2 tsp of oil over medium heat. When hot, add the eggplant. Cook stirring frequently until eggplant is browned and soft (8-10 min). Stir in the diced tomatoes and cook for an additional minute or two just to warm up the tomatoes. Remove from heat.
    4. Preheat your oven’s broiler.
    5. When the pasta is ready and drained (and rinsed if the directions say to), put it back in the cooking pot. Add the sauce and stir until well coated. Add the eggplant-tomato mixture. Stir until well distributed. Salt/fresh ground pepper to taste. (This was delicious right here so if you don’t want the added bread crumbs or the casserole look, just put some in a bowl and chow down!)
    6. Put the pasta mixture in a 8″ or 9″ square baking dish.
    7. Mix the bread crumbs and margarine with a fork until the margarine is well distributed and the bread crumbs are a little moist. Mix in the garlic salt.
    8. Evenly sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the pasta mixture. Put casserole under the broiler until golden brown. It took mine about 4 minutes. Every broiler is different and they tend to be pretty sensitive…so watch it. I’d even start checking at about 1 min the first time you cook this.
    Just in case you don’t already want to make this casserole, see if an inside look changes your mind…

    *Note about salt in the sauce. This measurement made the sauce pretty salty. But since there is no salt (except to taste) in the pasta or vegetables, it works. If you’re making the sauce for something else, start with less and add to taste. You can add, but you can’t take out!
    I don’t tend to do a lot of pasta, but this will definitely be added into the rotation. I think it’s even good “company food” (with a salad or something). So be warned, if you’re coming to visit me for dinner you will very likely have this.

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