Monday, August 30, 2010

Stuffed Eggplant Marinara

Eggplant season is here, and it is incredibly difficult for me to say no to this pretty purple member of the nightshade family. I started out wanting eggplant parmesan, but ended up with this thanks to my aversion to battering and frying (see the Fried Pickle Wontons for my favorite way around such things).

This dish uses crispy tofu to fill the texture void left by skipping the vat of frying oil; the protein boost doesn't hurt anything, either. If you don't want to be bothered with gutting the eggplant just to put its insides back inside, simply cube the eggplant before roasting, mix it all together in a 9x9 pan, and bake as instructed.

Stuffed Eggplant Marinara

2 eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 tbs light olive oil
salt to taste
1 15oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
3 springs fresh oregano, stem discarded
6 sprigs fresh thyme, stem discarded
1 18oz block extra firm tofu, pressed, drained, and cut into 1" cubes
3 tbs peanut oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8oz baby portabella mushrooms, stems discarded, caps quartered
1/2 c shredded asiago cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Brush cut side of eggplant with olive oil and season with salt. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Combine tomatoes, roasted peppers, oregano, and thyme in a bowl, crushing the larger tomato pieces. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and set aside.

Heat peanut oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry tofu several minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

In the same skillet that the tofu was prepared, saute onions over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and saute another minute. Stir in tomato paste, coating the onions. Add the crushed tomato combination and stir. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place mushrooms on a baking dish and bake for ten minutes. Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, leaving a 1/4" shell. Chop the removed eggplant and combine in a large bowl with the mushrooms, tofu, and tomato sauce. Season with salt again, if necessary, then divide the tomato mixture evenly amoung the hollow eggplant halves. If desired, top with cheese. Bake in oven for 10 more minutes, or until heated through. Makes 8 servings.

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