Italian Eggplant Parmigiana

Continuing to use up the endless amounts of basil leaves it was sauce making time and the last of the sister in-laws eggplants. I decided to make the family classic eggplant parmigiana.

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This is one of those traditional recipe that has been made in our family for generations like most Italian families and now I  will share with you. Though the traditional version is a little different in every family and well I have opted to bake my eggplants first instead of frying them for a healthier option.

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Cook in the oven 15-20mins
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Start Layering 
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Top with bocconcini

Italian Eggplant Parmigiana

Ingredients

1tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic crushed

2 cups  tomato passata

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup of red wine (optional)

1 bunch basil leaves

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggplants sliced thickly

2 tsp oregano

50g parmesan cheese

100g bocconcini cheese thinly sliced

salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C
  2. To make tomato sauce; Heat olive oil in a small saucepan on the stove add garlic and cook till just browned and fragrant
  3. Add passata, water, salt, wine and basil to the pot
  4. Bring to the boil, turn down to low heat with lid on and simmer for at least 30 minutes
  5. Meanwhile place sliced eggplant on a lined baking tray sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil
  6. Cook in the oven for 15-20 mins until just tender
  7. In a 18x 25cm baking dish spoon some tomato sauce on the base just to cover
  8. lay one layer of eggplants, spoon sauce generously over the eggplants, followed by some parmesan cheese and basil leaves
  9. Repeat layering using all remaining eggplant, top with sliced bocconcini
  10. Bake covered with foil for 30 mins then remove foil and cook for a further 15mins until bocconcini has melted and browned and eggplant is tender

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Italian Eggplant Parmigiana 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eggplant Pizzettes

 

Yes it’s actually a thing I googled it!  Really just meaning mini pizzas with eggplant as the base which can be eaten as a appetiser, snack or with antipasto.

With my influx of basil pesto in the house and the family eggplant delivery I received from my sister-in-law the other day I was eager to use them both. I was making a traditional eggplant parmigiana for dinner and had some eggplant left over so I decided to bake some extra thick cut slices with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of oregano in the oven for 15-20mins until was just cooked through without being mushy.

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Topped with some extra tomato passata I’d made, spooned some of the Homemade Basil Pesto  from the other day and topped with some shredded cheese. Popped back in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese was melted and we had a delicious pre dinner appetiser. It is a great idea for entertaining,  something a little different and suitable for vegetarians. I just called them mini eggplant pizzas but soon discovered there was an actual name for them. You learn something new everyday don’t you. hehe

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Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Black Beans

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Ever wondered what the difference is between sweet potatoes and white potatoes? Which you should be eating?

Firstly the carbohydrate content let’s get this straight, sweet potatoes are lower than that of white potatoes but still high in carbohydrates the difference is that sweet potatoes are lower on the GI (glycemic index) which is a slower releasing energy making sweet potatoes are better choice for calorie content as it has more time to burn rather than turn to fat if unused. Unless you are extremely active and burn a lot of calories daily keep an eye on portion size.

In saying that white potatoes and sweet potatoes offer some different nutritional benefits both in which are good for us depending on what your body needs more of.  White potatoes are higher in protein and iron where as sweet potatoes have become a superfood lately purely for it’s high fibre and it’s extremely high Vitamin A content which is essential in maintaining an all round healthy body from our eyes, bones, reproduction, immune system and skin.

So which is better for us?

The answer is both are good for us in different ways. The difference is the way we cook/ prepare them and what we add to them after. Deep frying vs baking or boiling. Adding butter, sour cream, fatty bacon vs legumes, chilli, avocado and yoghurt. Keeping this in mind sweet potatoes do often satisfy sugar cravings, especially if they’re baked and caramelized as they contain a higher natural sugar content.

Both fills us up, give us energy, and leave us satisfied for a long time. Making it a perfect winter comfort food.

Hope this has shed a little light on the subject and gives you a better understanding of the ever popular spuds.

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Black Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hour +10 mins
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Ingredients

2 large or 4 small/medium size sweet potato

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 red capsicum, sliced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 tbsp cumin

2 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (don’t like spicy leave this out)

400g tin crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water

410g tin black beans, drained and rinsed

400g tin lentils, drained and rinsed

salt and pepper

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

1/2 avocado diced

2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted

2 green onions finely chopped

1/2 cup baby spinach

1/2 cup natural yoghurt (unsweetened)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200’C
  2. line a baking tray with baking paper, prick sweet potatoes with fork all over set a side
  3. Heat a large frypan with oil on high heat, add onion and garlic cook to 2-3 mins until softened. Add capsicum, carrot, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper cook for 5-6mins.
  4. Add tin tomatoes, water, black beans and lentils to the pan and stir to combine.
  5. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45mins or until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Try not to let it dry out if needed add a little more water.
  6. Place  sweet potatoes in the oven and cook for 45-50 mins or until flesh is soft and tender
  7. Once the sweet potatoes are cooked cut a slit in them lengthways, add some of the bean mixture then the cheddar cheese and place back in the oven until melted (optional)
  8. Top potatoes with chopped avocado, green onions, pinenuts, baby spinach, and yoghurt and top with some extra paprika

Note: cooking time will vary depending on the size of the potatoes. Larger ones will take 60-70mins.

Vegan: For vegan version leave out the cheese and yoghurt or use substitutes

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Italian Minestrone with Quinoa & Crispy Pancetta

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It is a dreary day here today wet, cold and miserable. Not the most motivating weather for a Monday. Winter is making a sneak preview and reality is checking in that we actually do get cooler weather here on the Gold Coast. Of course nothing to get too distressed about compared to the Southern Australian states and well overseas snowy climates, but we do still get a winter even if the cooler weather is only for a very short time. I rather like it actually, it makes for a nice change to the sticky, hot humid days that engross us for the majority of the year. Who’s complaining we have it pretty darn good so the few months of chilly nights we can totally deal with. Also makes dinner time more cosy and enjoyable too in my opinion. Nourishing  wholesome soups packed with veg and flavour I just can’t get enough of which are rather easy to make as well.

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Minestrone is a hearty Italian classic soup which I have been making since I first started learning to cook. As has my mother  and her mother before that. It is a basic winter staple in our home something we have all grown up on. Except now I add the goodness of quinoa to the tomato vegetable broth which makes this soup even more nutritious than before and a gluten-free option. The pancetta gives the dish an extra salty depth of flavour which I quite like but you can always leave it out to make this a vegan/vegetarian meal. Serve with some warm crusty bread and a glass of red to make it a full authentic Italian meal.

Italian Minestrone with Quinoa & Crispy Pancetta

A traditional Italian Soup with the added goodness of Quinoa

Ingredients

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, diced

1/2 bunch cavolo nero, (Tuscan kale) finely sliced

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp dried oregano

salt and pepper

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 cup red wine

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup tri-colour quinoa, rinsed

400g tin four bean mix or borlotti beans, drained and washed

100-120g pancetta, chopped

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot heat oil on high heat. Add chopped pancetta and cook for 2-3 mins until just crispy. Remove from pan and a side
  2. Add onion, garlic and saute for 1-2 mins until softened. Add carrot, celery, sweet potato, zucchini, cavolo nero, bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper to taste and half the pancetta to the pot. Saute for 3-4 mins stirring continuously until vegetables are just beginning to soften
  3. Add stock, wine and tin tomatoes stir to combine. Bring to the boil then add rinsed quinoa. Turn heat down low to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add beans cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve soup topped with the remaining pancetta, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, extra cracked pepper and some warm crusty bread rolls. If you like some heat I added some chilli salt also.

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Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Turmeric Quinoa Curry

imageContinuing my love of Turmeric with this healthy vegan one pan vegetable curry.  I am always attracted to one pan dinners, when our weekdays are busy enough it makes meal time that much easier to know you can throw a few quality ingredients in a pan and let it cook away for half an hour giving us some free time to do other things. With three children all wanting my attention this is very handy let me tell you. Seems to be always when I am cooking dinner when they all want my undivided attention  for one thing or another.

My husband isn’t a big fan of curries so I don’t get to make them as much as I’d like to but today I had a craving for it so I made it for myself and the rest will go in the freezer for when I have another curry craving moment. Leftovers are good for work lunches too as this keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days and the freezer 3-4 months.

Super healthy with added quinoa so no need for heavy rice. I do like something to soak up all the sauce though, I had some of my Homemade Naan Bread in the freezer. Quick heat up and it’s good to go!

Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Quinoa Turmeric Curry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 35mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

250g sweet potato peeled and cubed (around one small)

250g cauliflower florets (about half a small cauliflower)

2 cloves garlic crushed

3 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder (for a mild curry leave this out)

1 tsp ground ginger

400g can coconut milk

1 tbsp tomato paste

salt and pepper

1 cup white uncooked quinoa

1 cup water

400g can chickpeas

1-2 cups baby spinach

Directions

  1. In a large pan add garlic, turmeric, coriander, chilli, ginger, coconut milk and tomato paste stir all till well combined.
  2. Bring to the boil then add sweet potato, cauliflower, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add quinoa and water to the pan and mix well. Reduce heat to a simmer and place the lid on.
  4. Cook for 25mins stirring occasionally making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  5. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 5-10 mins. It is ready once the quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid and quinoa is tender.
  6. Stir through baby spinach. Serve with Homemade Naan Bread

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