Tag Archives: skinny italian

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

A few weeks ago I scraped together some vegetables from the refrigerator to make a pasta dish.  A few bites in Mark, my most honest taste tester, proclaimed it the best pasta dish I had ever made.  When I find a good thing or a great recipe, I stick with it  – I have made this dinner for the last three weeks!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Ingredients
1 large eggplant
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls of green beans
2 links of chicken sausage (optional)
1 onion
Spaghetti for 2 (1/2 box of Quinoa Heritage spaghetti)
1 tbsp Olive oil for the pan
Olive oil spray
Garlic (I use cubes, three)
Basil (I use cubes, three)
Salt and Pepper
Pepperoncino to taste
Parmigiana Cheese to taste

 The great thing is that with this recipe there are no rules.  Did you want more pasta than vegetables?  Sure.  Love green beans?  Make it three handfuls!

Cut the eggplant width-wise into coins and then cut across into cubes.  Prepare a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with extra virgin olive oil spray.  Spread the eggplant evenly on the sheet, spray eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Bake on the top shelf of the oven at 350 for 35 minutes.

While the eggplant is roasting, get to work on the rest of the ingredients.  In a sauce pan melt the onions in olive oil with garlic and basil.  If you’re including the sausage, add slices to pan. Then, add the cleaned green beans and sautee on low/medium heat.  The green beans can hang out on their own for a little while without much attention, just a stir here and there.  I top the pan with a cover to allow the steam to soften the beans, but not too soft.

After the eggplant has been roasting for 15 – 20 minutes add to the oven the halved cherry tomatoes, also treated with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Place the tomatoes on the top shelf to allow them to get blistered.

During this time, set the water to boil for your pasta of choice.  After the vegetables are cooked/roasted and the pasta is perfectly al dente, add the drained pasta to the green beans pan, along with the eggplant and tomatoes.  Give the entire pan a light drizzle of olive oil and gently stir to incorporate all of the ingredients.

Serve with fresh shaved Parmigiano and a sprinkle of pepperoncino – and then you can also weigh in if this is your favorite pasta dish to date.

P.S. Mark, this is dinner tonight!

Grilled Eggplant Pesto Parmigiana

Sometimes I realize that the recipe featured here require a mixer, or an immersion blender, and for as much as I try to simplify recipes by using simple tools, it can become intimidating if your kitchen equipment is pieced together with hand-me-downs and college left overs.

This recipe requires not much more than George Foreman grill, the staple of every college “registry”, and it looks and tastes a bit more sophisticated than college.

Grilled Eggplant Pesto Parmigiana
1 large Italian eggplant
Pesto Sauce (either premade, or homemade – do it!  It is soo easy)
Grated Parmigiana cheese
Marinara sauce
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a cutting board slice the eggplant into 1/2″ coins.  Sprinkle generously with Kosher salt.  Salting the eggplant adds flavor and it also helps the eggplant to “sweat” out some of it’s moisture.

In a small bowl prepare the pesto sauce, come on, I know you went homemade.  Another even lower calorie option that is strong on flavor is crushed basil, garlic and olive oil – I recommend the frozen basil and garlic cubes at Trader Joe’s.
Lay the eggplant coins out on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown grill marks appear and then rotate for a beautiful cross pattern.   
Lay all of the grilled eggplant slices on a cookie sheet and spread each slice with a 1/2 teaspoon of your spread.  (If you’re  not into pesto, or garlic, or basil, or whatever, a tapenade would be amazing, or just your basic marinara sauce).  Sprinkle with the grated parmigiana cheese and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese is a little bit melted.
If you can help it, arrange the grilled eggplant slices on a plate and serve with fresh sauce.  If you can’t help it, try not to burn your fingers as you eat them right from the pan.  We ate them both ways in my house, and they taste just as good with or without the fancy presentation!

This makes for a healthy, affordable, and really satisfying dinner or appetizer for a crowd.  Buon Appetito!

Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana is an all time favorite comfort food of mine, and a great vegetarian substitute for chicken parmigian and more filling than a similarly stacked lasagna.  The only downfall is that traditionally the eggplant has to be fried in oil before it is layered with delicious sauce and cheese.  Not so fast, it can also be baked which is healthier, takes up less “active” cooking time and doesn’t leave your kitchen smelling like a fry house.

Eggplant Parmigiana Ingredients
1 Medium Italian Eggplant
2 Eggs
1/2 cup of All Purpose/Whole Wheat flour
1/3 cup of Italian style bread crumbs
1/3 cup of Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup of Skim Milk Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiana
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley/Italian seasoning
Set the oven to 350 degrees
Serves 6, or 4 very hungry eaters!
I cut the eggplant into coins about 1/4 of an inch thick and give them a light sprinkle of kosher salt.  Eggplant is full of water and the light sprinkle of salt helps them to release a bit of the moisture and and brings out the flavor.

At your work station set up a small bowl with two eggs, beaten, and a shallow dish with with the mixture of bread crumbs, grated cheese and few cracked of fresh ground pepper. 

Dip each coin of eggplant into the egg and then into the bread crumbs coating each slice on both sides.

With all of the prepared eggplant slice on a parchment covered baking sheet; bake in the 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  After baking the eggplant will be softened, the edges browned and the bread crumbs crisp and golden.

While the eggplant is baking in a small bowl mix the ricotta cheese, some pepper, parsley, and Italian seasoning.  Now here is where the fun happens.  Grab a baking dish and your favorite sauce – if it came out of a jar, it’s no big deal, I’m not telling anyone.  Spoon a thin layer of sauce on the base of the dish, add your first layer eggplant coins, another layer of sauce, and thin layer of ricotta cheese.  Repeat until you run out of eggplant.

On the top layer of eggplant add another layer of sauce, one more round of ricotta and some grated parmigiana. 

Look at those layers!  Where is the fork?

If you are preparing this on a Sunday for a Monday night dinner you can wrap this is tin-foil and keep in the refrigerator for a day.  If you’re looking for a more instant satisfaction this can bake in the oven at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted on the top and the sauce is looking a little bubbly.

When you’re ready to serve I like to portion out the stacks and serve with a fresh salad.  As they say in Italy, Buon Appetito!