I can’t get enough of eggplant these days. Miso eggplant, eggplant with Thai basil, eggplant-parm sandwiches. It’s one of my favorite late summer vegetables and is totally worth the wait each year. I admit, I eat produce out of season more than I would like too but eggplant is something I refuse to eat unless I can get it at the farmer’s market. If you’ve written off eggplant, I urge you to try it again this summer while it is still in season.
I recently had a similar version of this dish at Michelangelos, one of our favorte restaurants in Sacramento. It is my go-to dish there and I wanted to recreate it at home. Their version uses cheese in the layers but I wanted to make it healthier and lower-fat, using ricotta cheese in place.
I have been making this for the last few weeks. Each time I do, I tweak it a bit more but it always comes out delicious.
Eggplant Pesto Stack
1 globe (Italian) Eggplant, sliced
1 recipe, herbed ricotta (see below)
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
3/4 cup Italian dressing
1/4 cup prepared pesto
2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
1 pound firm tofu, pressed
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 tbsp. white miso
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
small handful chopped oregano , or 1 tsp dried oregano
salt, pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the eggplant into 1/4″-1/2″ slices. Dip in Italian dressing and then press into the breadcrumbs. You want the slices of eggplant to be well covered in a thin layer of crumbs. Place on a baking sheet and continue to bread the rest of the eggplant. Bake for 15 minutes each side until cooked through and golden brown.
Prepare the tofu ricotta. Alternatively, for a non-vegan version, you could use slices of Mozzarella cheese or your favorite cheese. In a food processor combine the ingredients for the tofu ricotta and pulse until everything is combined and mixture is smooth.
To prepare the stacks, place one piece of eggplant on a plate. Top with a spoonful of tofu mixture, and another slice of eggplant. Continue with tofu, eggplant, tofu and a final piece of eggplant. Cover with warmed marinara sauce and dollop pesto.
There are a lot of things we eat in excess in my house. Topping the list: tomato sauce, spinach, frozen mango cubes, and salsa. I think BL single handily takes down a jar of salsa every week. Besides his chips and salsa obsession, salsa goes on most of his meal foods like salad, eggs, burritos, and more.
I have this very annoying compulsion to make most of my food from scratch. I’m sure I don’t have to dig too deep into my type-A personality to figure out where that need comes from, especially because I indulge it on almost a daily basis. Maybe it’s because most of the ingredients in packaged food disgust and/or scare me or that I like proving just how granola/do-it-yourself-y I really am. Whatever the reason, I also know that I get tired of buying endless amounts of salsa to feed BLs need, so I jarred my own. (P.S. Costco’s Kirkland Brand Organic salsa might be the best jarred salsa anywhere)
Thanks to my mother #2, BL’s Mom of Walnut Burger fame, I was gifted this recipe just in time for summer tomatoes. The other advantage of doing most things from scratch? You save a ton of dough. I bought lbs. of slightly-blemished organic tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market for just $0.75 a lb. Show me any market that you can get tomatoes for that price!
So, try it out! As far as canning recipes go, this one is pretty simple and only takes a few hours from start to finish.
4 jalapeno peppers chopped (leave seeds in for extra kick)
8 cloves of garlic chopped
6 tsp. canning salt
1 cup white vinegar
12 oz tomato paste
Put all ingredients into a large pot. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Process 25 minutes in pint jars. Makes 6-8 pints.
To remove the skins, boil a small pot of water. Place the tomatoes in, a few at a time, and leave for ~60 seconds. Remove and place in a ice bath. When cool to the touch, peel the skins off and discard. Then chop tomatoes.
Place all ingredients into a large pot. Simmer for 25 minutes.
To process jars:
Heat a large pot of boiling water
Place salsa into steralized canning jars, leaving ¼” headspace at the top. Wipe the lid of the jar with a clean rag. Place the lid onto the jar and twist to close. Place the jars into the boiling water and process for 25 minutes. Remove. When they have sealed (you will hear a pop sound) store in a cool place until ready to use.
Think lunch meat sandwiches are healthy? Well, think again. Most people I work with think that their daily turkey sandwich is a ‘healthy’ choice for lunch. I, respectively disagree. For some reason, over the past decade or so, there has been more and more emphasis on the importance of protein. Oh, puh-lease, I rarely have a client who isn’t getting enough protein. Most people, depending on activity level and age, need 50-60g of protein per day (about 0.8-1.0g protein/kg). To put that in perspective, 3.5oz of cooked chicken breast contain ~30g of protein. Considering most Americans eat meat 2-3X a day you can see that protein isn’t something we are lacking in.
Another food that contains protein? Broccoli. Calorie for calorie, broccoli has more protein than a sirloin steak, but the steak also has 55 mg cholesterol and 1.7 grams of saturated fat. Plant foods can be great sources of protein, especially compared to meat sources which are often high in both cholesterol and saturated fat.
I have the same routine practically every Sunday. I do yoga, head to the farmers market, and grocery store. I then come home to prep lunch and dinner meals for the week. I am a pretty typical type-A personality which means I can tell you what we will be eating for most nights the week before. I create a menu and post it, it helps keep me sane and organized and lets BL know what he can expect each night.
I usually just plan leftovers to be lunch the following day, but every now and then I end up staring at the fridge in the morning with no clue on what I am packing for lunch. I’ve started making a meal to be used as a snack throughout the week or for lunches. It works out perfectly. It doesn’t take too much more of my time on Sundays and it leaves out any additional work during the week. Usually these meals are a giant salad, soup, or leftover cutup vegetables with dip. This week, I decided to make a cold noodle salad with the leftover vegetables I was prepping for other dinners this week.