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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LOW CARB Chipotle Cauliflower “No-Mac” & Cheese with White Beans

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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

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OK – this has to be one of the greatest Goddamn things ever!  I cannot recommend highly enough that you try this.  You can leave out the white beans (which I added for texture & fiber content) if you are serious about dodging carbs or make it with pasta instead of cauliflower if you are carbo-loading for a marathon – or do part cauliflower & part pasta.  You could add black beans or corn or garbanzo beans or diced tomato – or avocado after it is baked as a garnish.  So many options.  I made this up out of my head with ingredients on hand.  My version used 1 cup heavy cream & 1 cup water because I didn’t have milk.  It came out a tad wetter than I expected – probably because cauliflower doesn’t absorb moisture the way pasta does  – and I’d never attempted an all cauliflower mac & cheese before.  If you like your mac & cheese (or your cheesy veggies) wet – this recipe is for you.  If not either cut the milk by 1/2 or add another 1/2 cup each of the cheeses – or both.  That should solve the problem.  Or add a cup of cooked pasta.  I feel very confident about this recipe & that you will enjoy it – wet or dry.  And, though I haven’t confirmed this yet, I bet it is better the next day.  It could be made vegan by simply using the vegan alternatives to the dairy in the recipe.  This recipe is pretty spicy so – adjust the chipotle & jalapeno, if you are sensitive to heat.

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LOW CARB Chipotle Cauliflower “No-Mac” & Cheese with White Beans

INGREDIENTS

1 large head cauliflower – cut into but sized florets (I did the cutting after it was cooked & cooled)

1 can white beans

4 TBS butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 cups milk (or 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup water) – or less for a dryer result

5 chipotle peppers & their adobo sauce – diced

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (optional)

1 red (or green) serrano pepper – seeded & diced (optional)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro – chopped

1 cup quality cheddar (I used Kerrygold Reserved Cheddar) – or 1/2 cup more more for a cheesier result

1 cup quality pepper jack cheese (I used Tillamook Pepper Jack) – or 1/2 cup more for a cheesier result

S&P to taste

1/2 cup Panko or other bread crumbs

1/2 cup additional grated cheese to top the casserole

Additional cilantro for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the over to 350.

Boil water & add the cauliflower to it.  Boil about 6-7 minutes.  Drain & rinse under cool water.  Drain the beans & add to the cauliflower.  Set aside.

Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the flour & whisk continuously so i doesn’t burn.  It should brown just a bit.  Add garlic powder, smoked paprika & slowly whisk in the milk – allowing the sauce to thicken.  Add chipotle & sauce & cilantro & jalapeno & serrano peppers (if using).  Raise heat to medium-high & simmer about 3 minutes or until the sauce thickens.  Add the cheeses in increments, allowing it all to melt without clumping.  If it gets too thick, add water or a little milk.

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Add the white beans & cauliflower florets & stir to coat.

Grease a casserole pan or other baking dish.  Top with additional grated cheese & bread crumbs.  Put the cheesy cauliflower in it,  top with additional grated cheese & bread crumbs.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the sides are bubbling & the bread crumbs are browned.  Remove from heat & let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with additional fresh cilantro.

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