DDD #117 – Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice & Sausage

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Photo from The Iron You.

Click the image above to watch the video.

The photo just above is from the wonderful blog – The Iron You.  It is their Eggplant Parm Rice Casserole and it is that recipe that inspired mine here.  There are a few subtle changes but the primary difference is that I used cauliflower rice rather than real rice and I made it vegan.  That way – this dish is very light & nearly guiltless.  Is is very easy to make & comes together in less than 45-60 minutes – 30 of which are in the oven.  It is a surprisingly tasty recipe & chock full of fresh vegetables.

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Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower

2 eggplants – cut into 1/4 inch slices

Olive oil

1 cup basil – chopped

2 large shallots (or 1/2 small onion) – diced

2 cups cherry tomatoes – quartered (reserve a few extra to garnish)

2-3 cups vegan mozzarella – according to your preference (I used 3 cups)

1-2 cups grated vegan Parmesan – according to your preference

S&P

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS crushed red pepper (optional)

1 cup vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce

3 (or more) vegan sausages – cooked

Parsley or basil – chopped as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

If you have a grill or grill pan, spray some olive oil on the eggplant (or toss them in a light coating of olive oil or dressing) & grill on each side until a bit charred & soft.  Set aside.

If you do not have a grill or grill pan – follow Iron You’s oven method directions:  Preheat oven to 400°F  and place a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and grease them with vegetable oil. Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until it dissolves completely.
Add eggplant slices and let them sit for at least 20 minutes to draw out the bitterness.  Fish the eggplant slices out of the water, pat them dry, and arrange them on a single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the slices turn deep brown on top.
Remove the slices from the baking sheets and carefully transfer them on a plate to cool.

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Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Cook sausages & chop.

Cut the florets from the cauliflower & either grate them on a box grater or using the grater of your food processor (the FAR neater way to go).  Set aside.

Toss the tomatoes with basil, a pinch or S&P & the oregano & crushed red pepper & set aside.

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Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a large frying pan (large enough to hold all the cauliflower rice) & saute the shallots or onion until soft.  Add the cauliflower rice & the stock.  Over high heat – saute until the cauliflower is soft & the bulk of the stock has evaporated.  Stir in the tomato & basil mix and the sauce.

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Grease a casserole pan (I used cooking spray) and layer 1/3 of the rice on the bottom.  Top with half the eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese and 1/2 the sausage.  Add another 1/3 of the rice, remaining eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese & the remaining sausage.  Top with a final layer of rice & cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted & the casserole is heated through.

Let sit for 10 minutes & then serve with parsley or basil & maybe extra diced tomato.

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DDD #113 – Vegan Heirloom Tomato Tart (Pie) with Homemade Buttery Crust

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

I keep throwing softballs like this out there to you kids.  Softballs in that the recipe is easy & the result delicious.  When, oh when, will you trust me & try one?

This one is almost like a quiche but uses no eggs or heavy cream – and it is vegan!  I used three colors of heirloom tomatoes but any tomatoes would work, even cherry tomatoes, I suspect.

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For the pastry crust

makes two tarts

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

16 TBS ice cold (even frozen) vegan butter

1/4 cup or more of ice water

Heirloom Tomato Pie with Arugula, Tofu, Cream Cheese & Parmesan

makes two tarts

INGREDIENTS

Pie crust – uncooked

5-6 heirloom (or other) tomatoes – sliced thin

2 cups fresh arugula

2 cloves garlic

1 (14 oz) block firm tofu

4 oz vegan cream cheese

2 slices of your favorite flavor vegan cheese

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan – grated  (plus a bit extra for topping – optional)

S&P

Basil – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

For the pastry crust

Put the flour, salt & sugar in a food processor.  Pulse to blend.  Then, 1 TBS at a time, pulse in the cold butter until it is all incorporated.  Add a few TBS water & pulse until little balls of dough begin to form & it falls away from the bowl of the processor.

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Remove from the bowl & press into two balls – one a tad larger than the other.  Press flat, wrap in plastic wrap & chill for about an hour.  Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.

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DIRECTIONS

for the Heirloom Tomato Pie with Arugula, Tofu, Cream Cheese & Parmesan

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Press the dough into a greased pie or tart pan.  A traditional pie dish is absolutely OK to use – as is a spring form pan.  Slit the crust at the bottom and par-bake it for 7 minutes.

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Put the sliced tomatoes on paper towels, salt them & press more paper towels on top.  If your tomatoes are very wet & seedy, squeeze some of the seeds out to avoid excess moisture in the pie.  You can see that I did this with my red tomatoes.

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Meanwhile, blend the tofu, cream cheese, cheese slices, vegan Parmesan, arugula & garlic in a blender or food processor.  Season with S&P.

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When the crust has baked 7 minutes, top with the cup of grated Parmesan, the tofu mix & the drained tomatoes.  Add some S&P.  Maybe sprinkle some grated vegan Parmesan on top.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.

Bake for 45-60 minutes – or until the ricotta is set.  You might need to wrap the edges of your pie with foil (or one of these cool silicone things – the red thing below – that I got at Bed Bath & Beyond) to prevent the crust from over-browning.

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When the center seems set, allow this to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.  It can be eaten warm or room temperature.

Garnish with basil & eat it up!

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DDD Ep. #112 – Vegan Spinach-Stuffed Eggplant Rollatini with Homemade Arrabiata Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

This is a really easy, 5-minute pasta sauce.  It is fairly spicy so cut back on the crushed red pepper if you are sensitive to heat.  Canned tomatoes are not desirable – even BAD – (read why you should avoid canned tomatoes & seven other foods HERE) – but they are sometimes the only affordable (and super convenient) option. .

Fresh herbs will also improve this sauce measurably but – in a pinch –  they are absolutely not REQUIRED to make this sauce tasty.

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Five (5) Minute Arrabiata Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 27 oz carton tomato sauce
Garlic to taste
1 tsp each of crushed red pepper, oregano, pepper & sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh thyme (optional)
Fresh basil – chopped (optional)
Fresh parsley – chopped (optional)
Fresh oregano – chopped (optional)
1 TBS olive oil
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DIRECTIONS
Heat the olive oil. I sautéed maybe 10 tiny garlic cloves whole. If giant chunks of garlic offend you or yours, you might want to crush them a bit with the side of a knife or press them through a garlic press or chop them fine. Just do not burn the garlic and burning is easier – the smaller you chop the cloves. With whole cloves – I sautéed a minute before adding the spices. If you chopped the garlic – add it and the spices at once.After about a minute of both the garlic and all other spices sautéing – add the tomato sauce. Be careful as it will sputter and splatter you when it hits the hot oil.
A few minutes in – I used a slotted spoon to fish out the garlic cloves & put them through a garlic press but this is not totally necessary.Heat over med-low heat until ready to use. Add chopped fresh basil/parsley at the very end – if you are using fresh herbs.

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Eggplant is an odd thing.  Some of my favorite dishes are made of eggplant – most markedly my nearly guiltless Indian Baingan Bharta & one of the most popular recipes of this blog’s history, my Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant – both seen just below.

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But if it is cut into slices or cubes that are too large & then under-cooked – it can have an icky texture & an icky flavor.  Lots of people categorically reject it because the first time they tried it – it was yucky.  But it is so versatile & can take on so many flavors so well.  I love it & I feel certain I could convert more than a few haters – if I served them the right dish.

THIS dish might just be that dish – assuming they do not also hate spinach.   The eggplant is very subtle & melts in your mouth.  This could be customized a zillion ways.  There are no rules.  Just make a little mash of some flavors you like & roll’em up & bake them – and voila!  Yes – there are a few steps but none are difficult & the result is delightful.  A tad hard to photograph but really delicious.

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Oh!  I got this new little garlic press at Bed Bath & Beyond for (I think) under ten dollars & I am kind of in love with it.  There are to ways to go with this – sliced or minced (there is a second blade tucked into the base) & all you do is press the garlic through & it creates a little drawer of crushed garlic for you.  Se easy & easy to clean & no garlic fingers!

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Easy Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach 

Should feed 4

INGREDIENTS

2 medium eggplant – tops removed & sliced 1/4 inch thick (thick makes assembly harder)

1 lb fresh spinach (or 8 oz frozen or other spinach – thawed)

3-4  cups (28 0z or so) – marinara (your favorite brand or homemade or the one I  post below) or my 5-minute spicy arrabiata 

Handful vegan Parmesan

1/2 cup vegan ricotta

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

4 oz vegan mozzarella

S&P

Olive oil

More vegan mozzarella to melt on top – to taste

Parchment paper (if possible but not imperative)

Foil

Garnish: more cheese and/or parsley and/or basil

 

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the tops off the eggplant & try to cut them evenly 1/4 inch thick.  I used a mandolin.  Lay the slices on paper towels & sprinkle with salt.  Flip & salt the other side (lightly – so they won’t be overpowered by salt).  Salting the eggplant helps release excess moisture & can temper any bitterness.  Let them sit for about ten minutes.

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Steam the fresh spinach by simply boiling a tiny bit of water to a very large stock pot & adding the spinach.  Cover the pan.  It should wilt in less than a minute (this works to thaw frozen spinach, too, though it might take longer).  Strain into a colander & run cold water on it.  Squeeze out as much water as you can & chop the spinach.

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Put the spinach, parsley, & your Parmesan & ricotta & mozzarella cheese in a large bowl & blend.  Add some S&P.

 

Pat the eggplant slices dry & sprinkle with ground pepper.  Place them on a cooking sheet covered in parchment paper (or foil treated with cooking spray – because you do not want these guys sticking).  Bake about ten minutes.

Layer some sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Spread about 2 TBS of the filling on each of the eggplant slices.  If you have extra – spread it around.  Carefully roll those guys up & place them in the pan, seam side down.

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Layer some more sauce on top & then sprinkle with mozzarella.  Cover tightly with foil & bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven & uncover & let rest a good 5-10 minutes before cutting in.  Serve with more cheese and/or parsley and/or basil and copious red wine.  See?  You like eggplant!

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DDD #106 – Vegan Baked Buffalo Cauliflower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Hey!  Have you heard?  I wrote a really funny & dirty novel!  www.BathingBook.com.   Check out the reviews on Amazon!  Why not buy a copy?

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This baby is pretty easy.  I love buffalo sauce but I do not eat chicken so I am always scouting for other ways to eat it – whether on pizza or with shrimp or to dip French fries in – anything.  This recipe uses cauliflower & is virtually calorie-free.  I used regular flour but gluten free flour or a chick pea (besan) flour – even panko or breadcrumbs could also work.  Most recipes I’ve seen add an even amount of butter to the buffalo sauce but I see no reason to add that many calories.

Click the image below to watch the video.


 

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Buffalo Cauliflower

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower – cut into florets

1 cup unsweetened plain non-dairy milk

1 cup flour

1 TBS garlic powder

1 TBS onion powder

1 tsp each S&P

1 cup Buffalo sauce (I used Frank’s)

1 TBS vegan butter – melted

Celery stalks

Vegan Blue cheese (or Ranch) dressing for dipping

 

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 425.

Pour milk in a bowl & whisk in the flour with the spices.  Melt the butter & whisk it into the buffalo sauce.

Cut the cauliflower into florets.  Dip each into the flour mix.  Spray a cooking sheet with cooking oil.  Place the cauliflower on the sheet – spoon about 1/2 of the buffalo sauce over the florets & toss – & bake at 425 for about 15 minutes.  Take them out & coat them with remaining buffalo sauce & bake another 15 minutes.  Put them on a plate & drizzle more buffalo sauce on them.

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Serve with celery & blue cheese (or Ranch) dressing.

PRINT THIS RECIPE

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DDD #88 – Garlic Roasted “Simon & Garfunkel” Mushrooms with Mixed Herbs – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

I love mushrooms.  This dish is very simple and could be tossed with pasta or dropped onto a pizza or crostini or over potatoes.  I used all button mushrooms but any variety or combination of various mushrooms would be lovely.  Mushrooms shrink a lot when they are cooked so you should probably make more than you think you need.

Garlic Roasted “Simon & Garfunkel” Mushrooms with Mixed Herbs – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs mushrooms – sliced

Olive oil

2+ garlic cloves – sliced

1-2 TBS each: thyme, sage, rosemary

Fresh chopped parsley as garnish

(If you are feeling fancy, drizzle some nice balsamic on them – or a bit of truffle oil)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil, the garlic, sage, rosemary & thyme.

Cook for about 45 minutes – stirring once.  Season with S&P & garnish with parsley.  If using balsamic or truffle oil – get on that & then eat this yummy guys!

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DDD #84 – Vegan Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

This is another very easy dish.

Vegan sausage is usually pretty nasty but I keep hoping I can find a way to doctor it up & make it edible and, finally, with this dish – I SUCCEEDED!  The secret was a pinch of fennel & a shit ton of crushed red pepper.  The filling in these shells was so delicious – I kept eating it directly out of the pan.  A few simple ingredients, a half hour in the oven – and you are neck deep in heaven.  Trust!

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Vegan Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells 

(This makes enough to fill three pie dishes)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry fill-able pasta shells (any variety works)

Olive oil

4 vegan sausages – chopped

1 lb fresh spinach (or kale or arugula or other greens of your choice)

4-10 garlic cloves (depending on the size & your passion for garlic) – coarsely chopped

2 (10 to 15 oz) cans chopped tomatoes (I used Rotel & fire roasted tomatoes)

1 lb vegan ricotta

8 oz or more vegan mozzarella

1/2 cup grated vegan Parmesan

1 tsp dry fennel

1 tsp dry oregano

1 TBS crushed red pepper (I used closer to 3 TBS but I love spice)

1-2 cups red pasta sauce (I used some spicy Rao’s & spicy Guy Fiery sauces but homemade would be even better)

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta until al dente – or maybe a minute less than the package suggests.  Drain & run under cool water.

Heat 1-2 TBS of olive oil in a large saute pan.

Saute the sausage with spices (fennel, oregano & crushed red pepper) until it is begins to brown.

Add the garlic & spinach & tomatoes.  Cook until the spinach is just wilted.  Season with salt & pepper & blend them in.

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Put the mix in a food processor & puree it.  Add about 1/3 of your mozzarella & the ricotta.  The blending is not strictly necessary but it makes filling the pasta easier if the filling is mushy.

Put some of your pasta sauce on the bottom of a casserole or pie dish.  Fill the pasta shells & place them on top of the sauce.  Sprinkle with whatever amount of mozzarella appeals to you and additional sauce, if you like a wetter dish.  Maybe sprinkle some vegan Parmesan on there, too.  Put it in the oven & bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbly & the pasta is brown in spots.  If you want to freeze some – wrap the dish in foil & freeze – UNCOOKED.

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DDD #81 – Vegan Eggplant Timbale with Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

A long, long time ago, I had a boyfriend.  And that boyfriend had – egads! – ex-girlfriends.  One of these ex-girlfriends was (and remains) a famous actress.  A beautiful, famous actress.  She had been reaching out to him to “reconnect.”  My boyfriend at the time announced that he would be having dinner with this ex at some point in the future.  I informed him that I would be attending this dinner myself.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  “Nothing’s going on,” he explained.  “She just wants to get together.  We are friends.”  I explained that, as his live-in girlfriend, his friends should be my friends, too, and asked that if everything was so innocent, why couldn’t he just invite her over to our home for dinner.

It took a bit but I won this debate.  The invitation was extended & then the pressure was on.  ME.  On me because I had to cook the damned dinner – a dinner to impress this chick.  I wanted to impress her with both my culinary skills & with the level of our domesticity.  It was a passive-aggressive counter-attack to what I sensed were not entirely innocent intentions on her part.

This was pre-internet and pre-40 million cooking shows – so I had only my trusty collection of cookbooks to consult for ideas.  After hours of deliberating – I ended up making two dishes I had never made before – always very dangerous if making a good impression is your top priority.  I made a two-color soup much like this one (this one here is not my creation):

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Photo borrowed from HERE.

And I made an eggplant timbale as shown here in this blog.  As fate would have it, my dinner was a huge success & the ex-girlfriend was smart & funny & charming & the two of us were quickly gabbing like old friends, nearly cutting my boyfriend from the conversation completely.

And – for the record, ladies (and gents) – this ex-girlfriend never “reached out” to “touch base” again – to either me or my boyfriend.  So – my instincts had been correct.  She had been perhaps interested in rekindling more than just old times.  But – to her credit – once she met me, she was forever respectful and was never again a threat to our domestic bliss.

So – if you ever need to impress someone or scare off some interested interloper from meddling with your love life – serve them this whopper of a dish.  It is far easier to make than folks guess and it tastes delicious – and it is classier than a slap fight & hair pulling.

Also – as an aside, I bought this fucking gigantic can (I know canned tomatoes are bad but sometimes you gotta bend rules) of tomato sauce for $2.69.  That is practically free!  It makes 12 cups of whatever the Hell sauce you are making.  I made arrabbiata (surprise, surprise) and I froze 8 cups of it & used 4 cups of it to make the vodka sauce in this recipe.

Vodka Sauce – large quantity

INGREDIENTS

2 28-ounce cans tomato sauce

1 small onion – diced

1/2 cup vodka (optional)

1/4 cup olive oil

5 garlic cloves – chopped

1 TBS crushed red pepper (optional)

1 cup chopped basil

1 cup peas – optional

S&P to taste

For a pink sauce (optional) – 1 cup vegan heavy cream or vegan cream cheese

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil & saute the onion until soft.  Add garlic for one minute then add the vodka.  Cook on high a minute & then add the other ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low & simmer for 30 minutes or more.  For a pink sauce – add 1 cup vegan heavy cream or vegan cream cheese.

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Vegan Eggplant Timbale with Rigatoni & Vodka Sauce

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE TIMBALE:

1 pound rigatoni (or other pasta) – cooked & drained

8 oz vegan mozzarella

4 large eggplants

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1/8 cup vegan Parmesan

Chopped tomato or chopped fresh parsley or basil – as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Slice the eggplants into 1/4 inch slices.  You can go the long way or the other way – creating round disks.  (OPTIONAL – Place in colanders or on paper towels & sprinkle with salt on both sides.  Let the eggplants drain for about 30 minutes.  This not only helps remove moisture from the eggplant but also minimizes bitterness. I skipped this step.)

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You can either rub olive oil into your eggplant before grilling or you can dip them in an Italian salad dressing – really just to lubricate them so they do not stick to the grilling surface & tear apart.  Grill (a grill pan works, too) the eggplant until they get nice grill marks on one side, turn them & repeat.  Remove & set aside.

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Cook the rigatoni according to the box directions.  Err on the side of under-cooking – as they will cook more in the oven.  Drain the rigatoni & mix in a bowl with cheeses & 2 or more cups of vodka sauce.  Add more sauce if you like a really wet pasta.  You will have extra vodka sauce that you can use to add as a garnish to the finished slices of timbale or to use in another recipe.  It might be nice to have extra sauce for the timbale when you are in the leftovers phase.

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ASSEMBLY-

Grease a spring form pan & then put some bread crumbs & vegan Parmesan inside.  Swirl the pan to coat all the surfaces.  Throw any unstuck bread crumbs/cheese away.

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Line the inside of the pan with grilled eggplant.  You can either do as I did or, if you have circular disks, fan them on the bottom of the pan & then stick some, overlapping, up on the sides.  However you do it – try to cover every part of the pan with eggplant.  Pour the pasta & vodka sauce & cheese mix in – layering in extra cheese, if you fancy.  Top with any remaining eggplant slices.

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Cover the timbale in foil & place some heavy dishes on top & put in the fridge to compress for about 15 minutes.

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Then – bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Let rest, unmolested, for at least 15 minutes and then put a serving dish on top of the timbale, flip the whole thing over & then very carefully – remove the spring form pan.

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Garnish with either grated Parmesan or extra vodka sauce.