Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

In the past week, I flew to New Jersey, drove to New York, prepared for a wedding, went to a wedding, drove back to New Jersey, took a plane back to California with a stop in Chicago, then drove from Orange county to Riverside for a graduation.

On Sunday, I was in 4 different states all in one day.  It was amazingly busy but totally worth it.   The wedding I went to was fantastic.

saragabecar2It was my friend Sara’s wedding.  You might know her as the Biscotti Queen.  She’s the lady who taught me to make biscotti, so clearly it was a wedding I couldn’t miss.   Their wedding was one of the most fun and unique weddings I’ve ever been to.

There was no assigned seating (or even enough tables for everyone to sit at), instead you mingled around, stood at cocktail tables, sat around fire pits, in adirondack chairs and generally enjoyed the company of great people.

Instead of a sit down dinner, the night was filled with amazing appetizers and desserts.  I thoroughly enjoyed the smores.

IMG_4297One of the many appetizers served was Eggplant Rollatini, perfect given Sara’s very Italian family.  As I was looking through my photos of the wedding mixed with some photos of foods I made before heading to New York, I realized that the day before I left I unknowingly made my own non-Italian version of Eggplant Rollatini.

I won’t call it Eggplant Rollatini, because it’s not exactly the same.  I’ll call it Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

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Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

1 eggplant
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp capers
4 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano and sage)
1 can diced tomatoes, with juices
1/3 red bell pepper
1/2 a small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for brushing eggplant or use cooking spray)

Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Slice eggplant lengthwise into thin slices.  Lay on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt pepper, and paprika.  Bake for 7 minutes, flip then bake for another 7-8 minutes.  Remove from oven, turn oven down to 350F.

In the meantime, make your sauce.  In a blender, blend together tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, garlic and 3 tbsp fresh herbs.  Add salt and pepper if you like (I only added pepper since I used canned tomatoes).

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet, add sauce.  Cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally while you prepare the rest of your eggplant.

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In a bowl, mix together goat cheese, capers, and 1 tbsp of herbs.  Once your eggplant is cool enough to handle, lay some of the goat cheese filling on the eggplant then roll and place seamside down into the sauce.  Repeat until you’ve rolled all your eggplant (you might have some left over filling which I like to sprinkle on top after baking).

Bake for another 10-15 minutes, sprinkle with remaining goat cheese/herb filling and serve.  One eggplant (depending on the size) should serve 2-3 as a main dish.

eggplantrolls2This eggplant was totally different from the one at the wedding, but in my opinion equally delicious.  Let’s be honest, anything with goat cheese is amazing and I love lightening up heavy dishes like this.   I should also note it passed the taste taste from Jesse and my co-worker from New Jersey.

That totally makes it legit, and now it has an amazing memory of an awesome wedding attached to it.

Overall, the travel and craziness of the weekend were totally worth it.  I got to visit an amazing friend, see a few others (although I missed a few friends I didn’t get to see), and was so happy to be a part of a wonderful couple’s special day.

I have so many other things to tell you about.  What do you want to hear about next? An AMAZING salad?  More about this wedding? Do you need a dessert in your life?  Tell me!

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Polenta Eggplant “Lasagna”

Saturday was a serious cooking day.

Every year my department puts on a pancake breakfast for incoming Master’s students (second years are invited as well).  Naturally when the Biscotti Queen asked me to help, I couldn’t say no.  As a result, we calculated that I made about 300 pancakes (maybe more?).  Starting to think I should quit planning and work in food service.  Ha!

Then later in the day there were vegetables that needed to be used.  So I tried to pack as many vegetables into one dish as possible.  The result:

Polenta Eggplant “Lasagna”

1 medium eggplant
1/4 cup salt
1 tbsp olive oil
3 small onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes
1/2 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 3/4 cup corn meal (polenta)
7 cups water
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
10 oz ricotta cheese (I used fat free)
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place in a large bowl, coat with 1/4 cup salt, let stand 15-20 minutes. Don’t worry your eggplant won’t be salty.

In the meantime, chop onions, bell peppers and one tomato.  Heat oil in a large pot and add onions.  While those cook for a few minutes, thoroughly rinse the eggplant and lightly pat dry.  Once onions are translucent, add the eggplant, bell peppers and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Add one roughly chopped tomato and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Add pasta sauce and simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes.

Once your sauce is ready, turn off the heat and start making the polenta.  Combine cornmeal, water, onion powder, garlic powder and salt in a pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Once it starts to boil keep stirring for 5-10 minutes until your polenta thickens and starts to come off the pot.

Then preheat the oven to 375F and assemble your lasagna.  First spread 1/3 of the polenta into a deep baking dish (I didn’t have a really deep baking dish so I used a 9×13 baking dish and a souffle dish), next layer on half the sauce, then spread with half the ricotta cheese and repeat.  Lastly, top with the last third of polenta.   Top with a fresh sliced tomato and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes and place under the broiler for a few minutes to get a crispy top.  Let sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Enjoyed with

new apartment mate (one of two), Anna.

And a glass of wine

Normally, I’m not a fan of white wine, but this was pretty great.  Maybe not the best pairing with this dish, but fantastic on its own!  Definitely recommended!

Off to catch up on Mad Men! Have a great night!