Meatless Monday: 5 Ingredient Mini Eggplant Pizzas

Did you know Julia Child has a recipe for eggplant pizzas? Hers is glorious, obviously. This one’s just simple. But simple can still be perfect, and these perfectly meet all the needs for a healthy, easy, quick, and delicious meatless Monday dinner when paired with a big, fresh salad. It would also serve up as a great appetizer for a dinner party or potluck. Plus, Julia Child! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 large eggplant
* marinara or pizza sauce
* fresh basil leaves
* shredded cheese blend
* grated Parmesan

* salt and pepper (these don’t count as ingredients!!)

WHAT TO DO

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch-thick slices and lay them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Spray the slices with olive oil nonstick spray, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Bake 8 minutes, then flip, spray and season lightly again, and bake another 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is fork-tender.

Top each slice of eggplant with sauce, a leaf of basil, shredded cheese, and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Bake 5 minutes, then turn the broiler on high and cook another 2 minutes to brown the cheese and warm everything up.

Thanks, Julia!

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Meatless Monday: Roasted Eggplant and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Are you a Project Runway fan? This dinner was a Make It Work situation. Know what I mean? Plan A kind of fizzled, but I was too far into it and had to improvise so I could save the ingredients. Before I started cooking regularly this would have been a disaster. But I have come to think of cooking as a use it or lose it kind of muscle, and the more you use it the easier it is to flex. I panicked for a minute because I had no back-up plan, but then I stopped and looked around and quickly put together a Plan B. Here you go. 

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2 eggplants, cut lengthwise into thin slices
* salt
* pepper
* 1 jar your favorite marinara sauce
* 1T dried oregano, divided
* 2t fresh basil leaves, chopped and divided
* 15oz part-skim ricotta cheese
* 1C (+ more) grated Parmesan cheese
* 3 eggs
* jumbo shells
* shredded mozzarella (or another cheese of your preference)

WHAT TO DO
Preheat oven to 430F.

Arrange the eggplant slices onto a baking sheet (or two, depending on the size of your baking sheets) lined with foil sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Spray the tops of the slices of eggplant with a little more of the nonstick spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to touch. Chop into small chunks and set aside. Lower the heat on the oven to 350F.

While the eggplant roasts, boil water and cook the shells to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool.

Pour the marinara sauce into a bowl, and add 1/2 a tablespoon of oregano and 2 teaspoons of the chopped basil.

In another bowl, mix together the ricotta, a cup of Parmesan, the eggs, 1/2 a tablespoon of oregano, the rest of the basil, and the roasted eggplant.

Spoon a little bit of the marinara mixture into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each of the shells with the cheese/eggplant mixture and place into the baking dish. When the baking dish is filled, pour the marinara over the stuffed shells and sprinkle with shredded cheese and then with a little more Parmesan cheese.

Bake 15-20 minutes until the shredded cheese melts and browns and begins to bubble. Serve immediately.

Meatless Monday: Fried Butternut Squash Ravioli with Garlic Sauce

Sometimes a shortcut, semi-homemade solution is a perfect way to build something original and delicious on a weeknight without breaking your back or eating at 9:00. That’s exactly how this came about. While I’d love to be the person who can whip up fresh pasta on a Monday night, that’s just not usually the case. And with so many options in prepared raviolis, I don’t need to feel badly about it either. And you shouldn’t either. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 14 cloves garlic
* 1 1/2t kosher salt
* 1 1/2C vegetable oil
* juice if 1 large lemon
* 1-2T fresh parsley, chopped
* olive oil
* 1 package butternut squash ravioli
* crushed red pepper, for serving

WHAT TO DO
Add the garlic and salt to your food processor and pulse for 20-30 seconds or so at a time to purée, stopping in between to scrape the sides to make sure all the garlic is broken down. Stop when the texture is more of a paste.

With the food processor running, alternate pouring in the oil and the lemon juice slowly. Pour in a bit of oil, until fully blended, the squeeze in a bit of the lemon, allowing it, too, to be fully blended. Then repeat until all the oil and lemon juice have been added. Add the parsley and mix through to combine. 

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the raviolis in a single layer and fry lightly for a few minutes, flip, and fry on the other side for a few minutes more.

Reduce the heat to medium low and then add in a few scoops of the garlic sauce. Stir it in cared, letting it melt in and break down a bit, just 2 minutes or so. Serve immediately, sprinkled with a pinch of crushed red pepper.

Put the rest of the sauce in an airtight container and refrigerate. It’ll keep well if you don’t devour it! Spread on bread, mix in with salads instead of dressing, dip veggies in it, or fry up some more ravioli sauce to sauce with it! You’re welcome!

Meatless Monday: Individual Zucchini Parmesan

I actually planned to make a Zucchini lasagna for dinner tonight, but only realized when I got home that I’d neglected to pick up ricotta. So I whipped out my best culinary Tim Gunn and I made it work. I looked around and in a moment of clarity decided to make a zucchini parm (of sorts). It came out better than expected. I think I’ll be making it a lot. It’s a bunch of steps, so it’s not the most weeknight friendly meal ever, but it’s worth it! Please let me know if you give it a try! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED 
* 2 large zucchinis, cut lengthwise into about 4, 1/4-1/2-inch strips
* 1/4C flour
* 1 large egg
* 1/2C Panko breadcrumbs
* 1T dried parsley
* 1/4C grated Parmesan cheese
* olive oil
* shredded cheese (mozzarella or a blend)
* marinara sauce
* crushed red pepper flakes for topping (optional)
* additional Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

WHAT TO DO
Slice the zucchini and set aside. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Place the flour in one shallow dish, beat the egg in a second, and mix together the Panko, parsley, and Parmesan in a third.

Heat oil in a large pan (enough to cover the bottom of the pan completely) over medium-low heat.

Working in batches, coat each slice of zucchini first in the flour, then the egg, then the Panko mixture, and then place into the oil and fry 3-4 minutes per side, until just crispy-golden. Remove from the pan and place on the prepared baking sheet.

When you’ve initially fried all of your zucchini, turn off the stovetop and turn on the broiler. Sprinkle each piece of zucchini with a think layer of shredded cheese and then place under the broiler for no more than 30 seconds to let the cheese melt.

Remove the pan from the oven. Spread a layer of sauce over each piece of zucchini, and then another layer of cheese, and place back under the broiler for another 30 seconds, letting the cheese bubble and brown.

Serve with pasta or rice, topped with some fresh Parmesan and a pinch of crushed red pepper.