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Food

Easy dinner recipes: Four hearty eggplant options for Meatless Monday

Looking for a meatless option that still brings something rich and, well, “meaty” to the table? You can’t go wrong with eggplant. Marinate thick slices and grill them to order as a smoky vegetarian burger option, or saute diced eggplant to add rich dimension to pasta sauce. Broil cubed eggplant and add to greens or grains as you build a colorful salad. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate it’s versatility.

For a colorful dish that gets you cooking outdoors, brush thick slices of eggplant with olive oil and throw them on the grill, topping with slow-roasted red and yellow peppers to add color and sweet dimension.

Or roast a whole eggplant on the grill or stovetop until charred on the outside and buttery soft inside. Butterfly the eggplant and stuff with a colorful salad of fresh herbs, feta cheese and tomato drizzled with aromatic oil (the aromatic oils take a couple of hours to marinate; get them going ahead of time, then use them to add depth to a variety of dishes).

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

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Toss fusilli pasta with a simple, rustic sauce combining cubed eggplant, tomatoes, capers and wine. Finish the dish with slivered fresh basil and a sprinkling of ricotta salata for a simple one-dish meal.

And for a take on ratatouille, toss the vegetables on the grill, the light charring adding a nice smokiness to the dish.

You can find all four recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

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GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH RED AND YELLOW PEPPERS
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup olive oil plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced shallot

Kosher salt, coarse black pepper

1 large globe eggplant, about 1 1/2 pounds

10 fresh basil leaves, torn

Fleur de sel

1. Coat the peppers with one-half teaspoon of olive oil. Roast on a baking pan, turning frequently until the peppers are vibrant in color with some char marks and the skin peels easily, about 35 minutes.

2. Remove the peppers from the oven and place them in a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the peppers stand about 20 minutes or until cool. Peel the peppers, cut them into quarters and remove any seeds. Pat dry and cut into julienne strips.

3. Whisk the vinegar, garlic and shallot. Slowly whisk in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste.

4. Pour the vinaigrette over the pepper strips and let stand while preparing the eggplant.

5. Cut both ends off the eggplant and slice crosswise into three-fourths-inch rounds and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Brush both sides of the sliced eggplant lightly with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

6. Grill the eggplant over medium heat. Cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until charred and softened. Remove from heat.

7. Arrange grilled eggplant on serving plates and spoon over marinated peppers. Garnish with torn basil. Season with fleur de sel and coarse cracked black pepper to taste.

Each of 6 servings: 199 calories; 2 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 18 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 391 mg. sodium.

KUZINA’S BUTTERFLIED ROASTED EGGPLANT SALAD

Total time: 30 minutes, plus 2 hours steeping time for the aromatic olive oil

Servings: 2

Note: The garlic olive oil and aromatic olive oil can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.

Garlic olive oil

Peeled cloves from 1/2 head of garlic, about 7 to 8 cloves

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Greek

In a small saucepan, combine the garlic and oil and cook over low heat until the garlic turns a faint golden color, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and discard the garlic cloves. This makes about 1 cup garlic-infused oil, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The oil will keep up to 2 days, refrigerated.

Aromatic olive oil

1 bunch fresh herbs (any type desired)

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Greek

Blanch the herbs in a pot of boiling water until brightly colored, about 20 seconds. Drain and dry thoroughly. Place the herbs in a blender and pulse to chop, then add the olive oil and pulse to combine. Set aside for about 2 hours to steep, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer. This makes about 3/4 cup aromatic oil, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The oil will keep for to 2 days, refrigerated.

Eggplant salad

1 eggplant

Garlic olive oil, as desired

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon diced tomato

1 tablespoon crumbled Greek feta cheese

1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme

1/4 teaspoon chopped parsley

Aromatic olive oil, as desired

1. Roast the eggplant on a grill or stovetop burner until charred on all sides and the interior is very soft, 6 to 10 minutes depending on the heat.

2. Holding the stem in place, butterfly the eggplant so it opens almost like a panel, with the flesh totally exposed. Score the flesh crosswise.

3. Drizzle over a little garlic olive oil, the salt, tomato, feta and thyme. Garnish the eggplant with parsley and a drizzle of aromatic olive oil. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 199 calories; 4 grams protein; 16 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber; 15 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 4 mg. cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 1,221 mg. sodium. 

FUSILLI WITH SPICY EGGPLANT

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1 hour, 10 minutes. 6 servings

1 pound eggplant

Salt

1/4 cup olive oil

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1 cup diced onion

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1/4 teaspoon to 1½ teaspoons dried red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

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3 tablespoons capers

1/2 cup white wine

Slivered basil leaves

1 pound fusilli

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Ricotta salata

1. Cut the eggplant into one-half- to three-fourths-inch cubes and place them in a colander. Salt liberally and put a heavy bowl on top to press down. Place in the sink or in another bowl and set aside for at least 1 hour.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onion and cook until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and dried red pepper flakes, and cook an additional minute or two.

3. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry in a kitchen towel. Add to the olive oil and cook until it is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and the capers, and cook until any moisture cooks away, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer until it reaches a thick sauce consistency, about 5 minutes.

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4. Cook the fusilli in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the skillet with the eggplant mixture along with one-half cup of the pasta cooking water. Continue cooking briefly and add the slivered basil.

5. Divide among 6 warmed pasta bowls and top with crumbled ricotta salata.

Each serving, without cheese: 419 calories; 12 grams protein; 67 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 10 grams fat;  2 grams saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 7 grams sugar; 130 mg sodium.

GRILLED RATATOUILLE
Light charring of all the vegetables adds smokiness.

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1 large eggplant

1 large red onion

4 tomatoes

4 small zucchini

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6 large cloves garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

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Salt, pepper

1/2 cup sliced basil

1. Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Grill over hot coals until soft and slightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

2. Cut onion into 6 wedges, leaving onion connected at root end. Grill, turning often, until soft and slightly charred, about 15 minutes.

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3. Halve tomatoes crosswise. Grill until soft and slightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Cut zucchini lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Grill until soft and slightly charred, 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Grill garlic, turning often, 5 minutes.

6. Chop eggplant, onion, tomatoes and zucchini into 1/2-inch dice. Mince garlic. Combine in large bowl.

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7. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste in small bowl. Stir in basil. Add to vegetables and toss.

Each of 6 servings: 63 calories; 60 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.06 grams fiber.

 


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