You are looking at the greatest thing to ever happen to eggplant since pizza crust and goat cheese.
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.
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.
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.
Calories: 331.8 | Fat: 10.4g | Fiber 8.9g | Protein 12.9g | Carbs 49.5g
- 8 oz dry pasta (I used whole wheat)
- Olive oil
- ~3 lbs eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch slices
- 2 1/4 cups marinara sauce, divided
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella torn into small pieces
- 1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded Parmesan
- Basil leaves
- Lightly grease a casserole dish and a baking sheet (two sheets, if your eggplant is soccer ball-sized).
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Cook the pasta for half the time suggested on the package and then drain.
- 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
- Brush each side of the eggplant rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 15 minutes, flip and roast for 15 minutes more.
- Place half of the eggplant rounds over the pasta and top with half the mozzarella and Parmesan.
- Spread the remaining 3/4 cup marinara over top, followed by the remaining eggplant, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling.
- Serve topped with basil, if desired.
Yields: ~6 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Hello, summer. With your abundance of tangy green tomatoes, your abundance of soul-melting heat, and your abundance of why-waste-my-time-flat-ironing-my-hair-when-it’s-just-going-to-look-like-crap-in-11-seconds-anyway humidity.
I can only help you with one of those things. The other two can typically be fixed by drinking any one of these.
This summery mac & cheese is spiked with minced chipotles in adobo and layered in a baking dish – and then topped – with thinly-sliced green tomatoes. The tangy tomatoes help cut the richness of the cheesy dish while the chipotles give you just enough heat to justify cooling off with that Fudge Bomb for dessert.
You know, if you’re still looking for an excuse.
Green Tomato and Chipotle Mac & Cheese
A summery mac & cheese topped with tangy green tomatoes and spiked with spicy, smokey chipotle peppers.
- 1 lb macaroni pasta
- 16 oz grated cheese (I used half sharp cheddar, half colby jack)
- 6 Tbsp butter, divided
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp deli-style mustard (I use Creole)
- 1-2 Tbsp minced chipotles in adobo (2 Tbsp for a spicier mac)
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (2 slices of bread sent through a mini processor works perfectly)
- 3 large green tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Bring salted water to boil and cook pasta for half the time suggested on the package.
- Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking.
- Leave the pasta draining in the sink and return the empty pasta pot to the cooktop over medium heat.
- Melt 4 Tbsp butter and whisk in 3 Tbsp flour.
- Let cook ~3 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Add the garlic and whisk, cooking 1 minute more.
- Add the mustard, chipotles, and then slowly stream in the milk while whisking.
- Add a generous pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper, and let the sauce cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture beings to bubble.
- Add the cheese and stir until it is completely melted.
- Turn off the heat and add the pasta back to the pot, stirring until evenly coated.
- Transfer half of the pasta to the baking dish and then layer half of the green tomatoes on top.
- Top with the remaining pasta and the remaining green tomato slices.
- Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and stir into the bread crumbs.
- Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the dish.
- Bake for ~30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs have crisped to a golden brown and the pasta is bubbling.
Yields: 8-12 servings
Estimated time: 1 hour
So, yeah. I’ve made this twice this in two weeks. And both times, I would’ve happily cage-fought a 12-ft tall land-sharkzilla for the leftovers. (Or a close second, a 6-ft-2 Jason.) Because it’s THAT amazing.
I’m already a carbonara fiend – pasta tossed with a creamy, peppery sauce made with eggs, Parmesan, and bacon. It’s quite possible the best thing to ever happen to pasta. And most dinner plates. But this version takes it one step further.
There’s bacon. Because bacon. And there’s asparagus because I sale-hoard produce like one of those abnormal people on TV. And there’s goat cheese because you name me one thing – ONE THING – that isn’t better with goat cheese.
The carbonara sauce is already magically creamy. And when the tangy goat cheese melts down into the sauce? Your one-bowl meal is simply tangy, creamy perfection.
Goat Cheese and Roasted Asparagus Carbonara
A creamy carbonara with goat cheese and roasted asparagus.
- 1 lb asparagus
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- 8 oz linguine
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan (or ~2.5 oz by weight)
- ~2.5 oz goat cheese, crumbled (I used half a 5 oz log)
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Place asparagus and garlic on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes and then cut the stalks in half or thirds.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan over high heat and add the bacon, cooking until almost completely crisped.
- Drain off all but ~1 Tbsp of oil, add the black pepper and, when the bacon has completely browned, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl (big enough for mixing the entire recipe).
- Add the eggs and Parmesan to the bowl, then add to the bacon mixture and crumbled goat cheese, stirring to mix well.
- Set aside 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
- Immediately add the hot pasta and a splash or two of the hot pasta water (~2 Tbsp at a time) to the bowl, while stirring vigorously to create a creamy sauce.
- Add the asparagus, toss to coat (adding additional water if necessary).
- Serve immediately.
Yields: 4 servings
Estimated time: 35 minutes
How excited am I that blood oranges are back? That excited ^.
Also? This excited:
Last spring, we planted a tiny blood orange tree in the backyard. And somehow it survived. We won’t let any blooms go to fruit this year but next year, man. Next year.
Besides margaritas, one of my other favorite things to have for lunch is this salad. You might recognize it. It’s spinach & quinoa tossed with a quick vinaigrette of blood orange juice, white wine vinegar, and shallot and then topped with blood orange segments and crumbled goat cheese.
I can make it on the weekend and then eat it cold, straight from the fridge, for the next several days. It sort of balances out those weekend margaritas. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.
Looking for more blood orange recipes? Check out our winter citrus favorites here!
Blood Orange, Spinach, and Quinoa Salad
An easy winter salad with fresh spinach, quinoa, goat cheese, and blood oranges in a simple blood orange vinaigrette.
- 3 blood oranges
- 1 cup quick-cooking quinoa, cooked according to package directions and chilled*
- 3 oz fresh baby spinach (half a large clamshell or bag)
- 4 oz crumbled goat cheese
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup olive oil (I use light-tasting oil)
- Segment the oranges over a bowl topped with a strainer set - let any seeds and segments fall into the strainer while the juice goes into the bowl below.
- After segmenting, squeeze all the remaining juice from the "membranes" left in your hand into the strainer.
- In a large bowl, toss the spinach, cold quinoa, goat cheese, and blood orange segments together.
- In the bowl with the blood orange juice, whisk the vinegar, shallot, mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper together.
- Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking.
- Pour over the salad, tossing to mix.
- Serve cold. Leftovers will keep a few days in the fridge.
Yields: 4-6 servings
Estimated time: 45 minutes