Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Eggplant Rollatini with Roasted Vegetables

Influenced by Veggie Belly's Vegan Eggplant Rollatini with Couscous and Pinenuts. I can't leave well enough along and wanted more fiber, protein, and texture to the dish. DH wasn't thrilled about the fiber idea, he had a bad run-in with Thai Spaghetti Squash dish I need to tweak a little more, but in the end it worked out. I was going to serve a salad on the side but I think with the all the vegetables in the middle, that's just overkill for the two of us. If I were to make this for a dinner party or for family, I would add a side green salad, maybe some sort of crusty bread, and maybe a chickpea salad.

Makes about 3-4 adult meal servings, assume 3 rolls a piece with a hearty veggie mix.

You Need:

1 cup green lentils, washed
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, separated and smashed
1 tsp seasoning (I used herbed poultry to not waste an otherwise unused herb blend)
1 box pinenut couscous (or make your own mix)
1-2 large red pepper, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3-6 stalks softer kale (not curly), chopped
2 medium eggplants
1/2-1 1/2 cups marinara (I used a mushroom marinara)
Olive and Vegetable Oil
mozzarella-like topping (optional)

1. Prepare the lentils: Bring 2 cups of water, the lentils, bay leaf, one of the cloves of garlic, and the seasoning of choice to simmer in an uncovered sauce pan. Monitor for the next 20-30 minutes, adding water as needed to keep the lentil submerged by 1/4". Taste closer to the 20 minute mark, the lentils are done when no longer crunchy but NOT mushy. A little on the al dente side is fine for this preparation. Drain, pick out the bay leaf and garlic, and set aside. Rinse out saucepan.
2. Prepare the Couscous: In the rinsed out sauce pan, heat 1 1/2 T or so of olive oil and toast the other clove of smashed garlic. When soft and fragrant, add 1 1/4 cups of water and the seasoning packet that came with the couscous (add garlic powder, onion powder, pine nuts, and dried chives in making your own). Bring to a soft boil. Stir in the couscous. Cover and leave off heat to steam for 5-7 mn. Fluff and mix into the lentils. You can leave the garlic in since it is softer and mixes in nicely.
3. Prepare the eggplants: slice 1/4" thick through the length of the eggplants. A mandeline would be easiest, with a chef's knife I was getting uneven slices at times. Take care to not get too much skin on each slice, I discarded the end slices since they were smaller and mostly skin. Alternatively, peel and chop up the discarded pieces for the vegetable mixture later.
4. Brown each slice of eggplant on both sides in a small amount of oil in a skillet. Arrange around the perimeter of a cast iron skillet or baking dish. Lightly grease your preferred vessel if not already well seasoned.
5. Top the widest part of each eggplant slice with 1-2 heaping tablespoons of the couscous lentil mixture. Roll the eggplant around the mixture, tucking - if possible- the narrow end under to secure. Place around the edge of the vessel, turning them so that the mixture can only fall to the middle and the rolls unroll into each other.
6. Place some of the leftover mixture between the rolls to stabilize and the remainder in the middle of the skillet.
7. Top the middle section with the chopped vegetables. Feel free to play around with the ones used, this was just what was in the crisper. I tucked pieces of broccoli around the edge as well. Season everything with a pinch of salt and pepper.
8. Pour your desired amount of sauce over the eggplant. Top with chopped parsley.
9. MAKE AHEAD CHECKPOINT: If making this for dinner later (I don't know how well it would free but within 24 hours should be fine), cover and refrigerate at this point. Add 15-20 minutes to cook time.
10. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Stir the vegetable mixture once or twice. Dish is done when the sauce is bubbling happily. Top with mozzarella for the last 5 minutes.

Notes: Steps 1-3 can be done simultaneously, the eggplant is not harmed by sitting out once browned.
You can omit the lentils and double the couscous for a quicker but less hardy meal. Prepare the couscous while browning the eggplant.

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