Garden

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

by Shawnda on October 1, 2014

in eggplant,Garden,Lighter & Healthier,Pasta, Rice, and Grains,Vegetarian

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

You are looking at the greatest thing to ever happen to eggplant since pizza crust and goat cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

The eggplant tree in my garden still thinks it’s summer. And frankly, with highs still in the low 90s, it IS still summer.

While I was out of town last weekend, Jason sent me a picture of the three soccer ball-sized fruits he picked from the “tree.” All bigger than my 4-year-old’s head. When I got back, I took one of those soccer balls (just one – and I had leftover slices!) and turned it into the most amazing version of Eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

The dish comes together pretty easily – assuming you don’t find out at the last minute that what you thought was a jar of marinara turns out to be calorie-bomb vodka sauce and then thank all the baby Jesuses for those two cans of crushed tomatoes buried behind the year-old can of pumpkin.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

You roast sliced eggplant for ~30 minutes to remove excess water and concentrate the flavors and then you layer it in a dish on top of half-cooked pasta with marinara (or “improvinara”), mozzarella, and parmesan. Another 30 minute spin through the oven and you have a golden brown, bubbling dish of Eggplant Parmesan perfection.

And your house doesn’t stink like yesterday’s fried foods the next morning.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

Not all comfort food is terrible for you. This version of Eggplant Parmesan is lighter on fat, heavy on flavor.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 331.8 | Fat: 10.4g | Fiber 8.9g | Protein 12.9g | Carbs 49.5g

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dry pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • Olive oil
  • ~3 lbs eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups marinara sauce, divided
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded Parmesan
  • Basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease a casserole dish and a baking sheet (two sheets, if your eggplant is soccer ball-sized).
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Cook the pasta for half the time suggested on the package and then drain.
  4. Add the pasta to the casserole dish along with 3/4 cup of marinara sauce, stirring to mix. Top with another 3/4 cup marinara
  5. Brush each side of the eggplant rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes, flip and roast for 15 minutes more.
  7. Place half of the eggplant rounds over the pasta and top with half the mozzarella and Parmesan.
  8. Spread the remaining 3/4 cup marinara over top, followed by the remaining eggplant, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
  9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling.
  10. Serve topped with basil, if desired.

Notes

Yields: ~6 servings

Adapted from Feast, via Annie's Eats

Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes

FacebookTwitterTumblrShare

{ 4 comments }

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

Did I ever tell you about that time I was picking a half-million serrano peppers a few summers ago and I’d spied a reddish-brown “pepper” (airquote spoiler!) that had fallen off the bush, got caught on the vertical support net, and was hanging there… “drying.” I pulled it off the net but before I could toss it over in the general direction of the compost bin, it wiggled in my hand .

I then proceeded to totally and completely and entirely lose my shit. (And then I hurled over the brick fence and it probably landed in the street thereby ending the circle of life.)

The “pepper” wasn’t a pepper at all. It was a cocoon… or maybe a chrysalis. For what Google Images told me might have been a hawk moth. Or not.

[shudder]

While moths [gag] and wiggly “peppers” [triple gag] freak me the heck out, I have no problems surgically removing and destroying vine borers or walking with Landry through the Cockrell Butterfly Center at HMNS.

On the contrary, she and I always wear red in hopes that one will land on our shoulders. And when that doesn’t work, we accept the consolation prize of watching them mate on the sidewalk for an aaaaawwwwkwardly long time.

Monarch Butterflies Mating (giggle)

I headed to the garden this morning to pull a fennel bulb for some fennel salsa verde and found 6 monarch black swallowtail (I think) butterfly caterpillars happily munching on the fennel fronds. The seedlings I started this spring to attract monarchs didn’t survive transplanting but it looks like someone else still managed to find a home.

Besides the &^%$#@! vine borers.

FacebookTwitterTumblrShare

{ 2 comments }

Garden Fridays: Double the Fun!

by Shawnda on April 18, 2014

in Garden

Roma Tomatoes

How does your garden grow?

It has been a month since I planted too-early-but-not-really and had to start all over again. Since then, all kinds of great things have happened in the backyard. And they mostly fall under the “I haven’t killed it yet” category.

Kale

The really big thing, according to my inner 72-year-old? If you follow me on Instagram, you already know: we built a second raised garden bed. PLANT ALL THE TOMATOES.

Twice the square footage for my square foot garden. And twice the tomatoes to make a freezer full of the world’s best marinara and pizza sauce.

So what’s all in the ground?

Box 1
8 indeterminate (vining) tomatoes: black indigo, cherokee purple, black krim, beef steak, juliet, red and yellow brandywine, pineapple.
3 broccoli – I’m getting 2-3 crowns of broccoli a week for the last couple of weeks.
Broccoli

2 Roma tomatoes
2 zucchini
Black beauty eggplant
Kale
Spinach
Chives
Garlic
Green onions
Texas sweet onions

Red Seedless Grapevine

And let’s not forget that I-swear-it-was-dead red seedless grapevine that will now have to compete with tomatoes for space on the trellis. Oops.

San Marzano

White peach

Persian lime

Box 2
8 indeterminate (vining) tomatoes: San Marzano, juliet, beefsteak, cherry.
2 romas
2 bell peppers
New Mexico-style green peppers (I guess that’s what you call Hatch chiles that don’t grow in New Mexico)
Jalapeno
Leeks
Cilantro
Basil
Canteloupe
Yellow zucchini
Zucchini
Green & purple beans
Purple beans

Potted: fennel and mint
Fennel

Around the backyard: Young citrus (persian lime, key lime, navel orange, rio star grapefruit, blood orange, meyer lemon, eureka lemon, pink lemon), pomegranate, peaches (white and gold), and a celeste fig.

Rio Star grapefruit

I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re looking for a good gardening reference or just a starting point to get you moving in the right direction, I highly recommend flipping through The Square Food Garden Method.

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

FacebookTwitterTumblrShare

{ 5 comments }

Garden Fridays: Garden 2.0 (Already)

by Shawnda on March 14, 2014

in Garden

It’s a good thing the growing season here in Texas is so long. Because I get to start aaaaaalllll over this year. And I’m still pretty bitter about it.

Two weekends ago, we’re standing along a mountain bike course west of Austin, bellies full of Kerbey Queso, and pretty excited about the day ahead. My “trusty” weather source says we’re going to be done with Jason’s race and nearly back to Houston long before the cold front hits Austin.

The race started, the guys disappeared into the forest for the completely treacherous (why do people think that’s fun?!) 16-miles and then the wind blew. For 10 seconds straight. It was very cool air.

Everyone and everything had fogged up – cameras, sunglasses, helmet shields. The mass confusion was funny at first. But then reality hit: just like that, it was 20 degrees colder within seconds. 5 hours earlier than it was supposed to be – thanks for keeping the forecast updated, Weather Channel!

We always have a couple of below-40 cold snaps after our last frost date (when I usually plant) but it’s very manageable. But the low that night ended up being 12 degrees lower than projected 24 hours before, which is a big deal when we’re talking 25 vs 37. And the wind – I mean, it’s windy out here in the Katy prairie but I wasn’t prepared for the steady 20+ mph with gusts over 30 that ripped all my tree covers and frost protectors away, leaving the new citrus and garden vulnerable to the elements. And leaving my covers no where to be found.

Tomatoes, peppers, squash, and green beans: toast.

New growth on the blood orange and pomegranate: toast.

200+ baby peaches?

I’m clinging to the smallest sliver of hope. But my gut says toast.

[sob]

FacebookTwitterTumblrShare

{ 9 comments }