Sunday, September 27, 2009

Grilled Eggplant Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

Wow, so unlike me to start a blog, but I'm giving it a try. I have an interesting life, lots of great things, and some not so great. So, I thought I'd write about it all and combine it with my new found hobby: cooking! Food can bring up so many memories and emotions and that's what I love about cooking. From the meals I shared with my husband when we first met, to the casseroles my Mom would leave warming in the oven on a night she stayed late at school, I can't eat anything close without thinking of those times.

I have a husband, Andrew, originally from England, who I met on a bike tour of the West Cork coastline in Ireland. We reside in Santa Barbara, CA thanks to a winning coin toss five years ago. Yes, you read that right! We flipped a coin, I won, and the rest is, well, history. Our courtship started in Rome with a magical weekend of eating, drinking, and merriment. I found this recipe which reminded me of those late, lingering, enjoyable dinners that you never want to end. Plus, did I mention my husband is an avid gardener? Eggplant, basil, and tomatoes are taking over our yard! So, here it is:

(Adapted from
Serves 4

For the Tomato Basil Sauce:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 cherry tomatoes diced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 Cup pasta sauce (any brand will do)
1 Tablespoon tomato puree
1/4 Cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Heat oil over medium low heat. Add garlic and cook one minute, making sure not to burn the garlic. Stir in tomatoes and balsamic and bring to a gentle simmer. Add tomato puree and pasta sauce. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in basil. While sauce is simmering, prepare the eggplant rolls.

For the Stuffed Eggplant:
4 Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise and grilled
1 1/2 Cups ricotta cheese
1/4 Cup parmesan cheese
1/4 Cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 Cup thawed and drained chopped spinach

4 Cups of cooked penne pasta

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix cheeses together and season with salt and pepper (not too much salt, the cheeses are already salty!). Stir in the spinach. Drop cheese mixture onto eggplant slices and roll up. Spread sauce on bottom of baking dish and place eggplant rolls seam side down on top of sauce. Sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered 20 minutes. Meanwhile cook enough pasta for four people (about 2 Cups of dry pasta (it doubles)). Toss pasta in a little olive oil. Remove eggplant from oven and scoop on top of pasta. Garnish with fresh basil and serve immediately.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Andy and I can attest that this dish was DELICIOUS! It really made me want to have my own vegetable garden - it was so flavorful. But I know that it would end up getting neglected. However, I'm seriously considering a weekly allotment plan at Fairview Gardens now for their organic produce. Thanks for growing and cooking this meal for us! Looking forward to trying some of the others.


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