I am writting this in Maui. Great sentance to type out. We spent the morning at the beach, if there is anything my almost two year old loves it is the beach. He runs, chases waves and loves to have his cute toes burried in sand (over and over again). My baby bump was great floatation for snorkling, complete with turtle sightings. The condo is pretty quiet now as we have fallen into a siesta routine, rough life.
We are lucky enough to be on this trip with my parents and my brother. Nothing provides laughs and memories like an entire family trip. The last time we did this we went to Europe, there was no husband or baby for me. That was about ten years ago and we still can end up in hysertics when we talk about it. Is there challenges? Of course. Is it expensive? Yes, but I have never wished I had not spent the money. As far as I am concerned it is the best money you can spend. Material things are only exciting for a short while, but time spent with those you love in a great place can bring you joy forever.
So...onto the cooking. I did not make this recipe here. That would have been very ambitious. There have been a few things I have tried here that I need to make once I get home: coconut syrup anyone? For sure not healthy...
I saw this recipe made on TV and was swayed by how fast it was and by the fact it contained eggplant. I have never made anything with eggplant before, but love their rich colour and shiny exterior. I wasn't 100% that I loved the taste or texture of eggplant, so I decided Eggplant Involtini was a go.
2 medium eggplants
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
475-g tub light ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
796-mL can diced tomatoes
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Slice eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-in.-thick slices. I was worried some of my slices were too thick and wouldn't be pliable enough to roll, but they were fine. There will be about 16 slices. Discard outside slices or keep for another use. Lightly brush both sides of eggplant with about 2 tbsp olive oil. Bake in centre of oven until edges are fork-tender, about 15 min. Turn oven off and leave eggplant in to stay warm.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium. Add 1 tsp oil, then onion, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until onion is soft, 3 min. Stir in ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest and 1/4 cup basil. Stir until heated through, about 2 min. Season with fresh pepper. Transfer mixture into a medium bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
Return pan to heat and increase to medium-high. Add remaining oil, tomatoes and remaining salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until saucy, about 20 min. Remove from heat and stir in remaining basil. Season with fresh pepper.
Spoon 2 tbsp ricotta mixture onto 1 end of each eggplant slice. Gently roll up. Place involtini on a large warmed serving platter, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining eggplant and ricotta mixture. Top with half of tomato sauce. Serve immediately with remaining tomato sauce alongside. Adapted from here.
Turned out great. Total eggplant success. It was pretty fast, and only slightly tedious to roll up the cheese in the eggplant slices. For extra points they look pretty fancy and are vegetarian. I have read a lot of recipes that required the eggplant to be salted and left to sit, etc...no thanks. Not needed here, you're welcome.
I am looking forward to a few more beach days, sunshine and watching my son enjoy his extreme amount of vacation alotted chocolate milk. Aloha....
Tiffany McFadden, RD