The best winter recipes will warm you up inside and out, will warm your home and make your house smell fantastic.
Soups, stews, casseroles and chili are very versatile dishes. Not really in the mood to cook after a long day at work? Let your crock pot do the work for you. There are lots of crock pot recipes out there for stews, roasts, chicken, chili and more.
Even if your recipe doesn’t call for it, it’s easy to add or substitute any veggie or lean meat that you have in the refrigerator. These types of recipes usually make a lot of servings. You can always freeze leftovers in individual containers, so you’ll have a quick, pre-portioned meal for another day.
Below are five dinners guaranteed to help you warm up.
Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and Polenta
This dish is perfect for a cold winter night and is a complete meal all in one bowl.
- 1 pound broccoli rabe, tough stems removed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds hot or mild Italian sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from a 14-ounce can)
- 1 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/3 cups polenta or coarse/ medium cornmeal
- Grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the broccoli rabe for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Cut into 2-inch lengths.
In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausage links and cook, turning, until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate. When cool enough to handle, cut into slices.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine; bring to a simmer. Add the sausage slices, tomatoes, broth, thyme and 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, parsley and pepper to the sauce; bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the polenta in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until very thick, about 20 minutes. Serve in individual pasta bowls and pour the sausage/broccoli sauce over the top. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
Winter Fish Chowder
Serve with some delicious crusty bread.
- 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 dozen mussels, scrubbed
- 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2 slices of bacon, finely diced
- 1 celery rib, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup half and half
- 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 ounces white fish fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with the water and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over moderate heat until the potatoes are tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add half of the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over moderately high heat until they open, 3 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Add the clams to the saucepan, cover and cook. As the clams open, transfer them to the bowl. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels and clams from their shells and coarsely chop them.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the bacon to the pan and cook over moderate heat until crisp, 4 minutes. Add the celery and the remaining onion and garlic. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the flour, then gradually whisk in the potato cooking water. Bring to a boil, whisking, and cook until thickened slightly.
Add the potatoes and the half and half and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon and fish and simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the fish is just cooked, 3 minutes. Add the mussels and clams and pour in their reserved cooking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom; stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley. Serve the chowder in bowls.
A salad is all that is needed to complete this meal.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 16 – ounce package shelf-stable potato gnocchi
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion, divided
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in marinara sauce; set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine ground beef, ¼ cup chopped onion, egg, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder and fennel seeds. Shape meat mixture into 24 equal balls, about 1 inch round.
In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, bell pepper and the remaining onion; cook about 7 minutes or until tender. Add vegetables to the bowl with the gnocchi.
In the same large skillet heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs, half at a time, about 6 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F), turning occasionally. Transfer meatballs to the bowl with the gnocchi and vegetables. Gently stir to combine.
Pour gnocchi mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Tuscan Kale and White Bean Stew
A meatless option.
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered (2 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bunches kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups)
- 1 15.5-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan and the 2 teaspoons of olive oil in small bowl. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter in large ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms; increase heat to medium-high. Stir, cover pan, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Uncover the pan, add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes, or until wilted.
Add beans, broth and 3/4 cup water. Cover, and simmer 6 to 8 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by about three-quarters. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
Heat broiler to high. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over stew and broil 3 minutes, or until topping is golden.
Stuffed Chicken Rolls
Serve with a vegetable side dish for a complete meal.
- 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened to 1/4 inch
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices prosciutto, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- 4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 ¼ cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick spray.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add prosciutto and cook until crisp. Remove to a mixing bowl.
Add spinach to the skillet and stir until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer wilted spinach to the bowl with the prosciutto. Add cream cheese, Parmesan and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir until thoroughly combined..
Divide spinach mixture evenly among the chicken breasts and spread over the surface. Roll up chicken, dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs. Place chicken rolls seam side down in the prepared pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon on marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella. Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken rolls 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese melts.
A casserole, from the French word for “saucepan”, is a large, deep dish or pot used both in the oven and as a serving vessel. The word casserole is also used for the food cooked and served in such a vessel. Casseroles usually consist of pieces of meat or fish, various chopped vegetables, a starchy binder, such as flour, potato or pasta, and, sometimes, a crunchy or cheesy topping. Liquids, such as stock, wine, beer, cider, or vegetable juice, may be added when the dish is assembled for baking. Casseroles are usually cooked slowly in the oven, often uncovered. They may be offered as a main course or a side dish, and may be served in the dish in which they were cooked.
Types of casserole entrees include ragouts, hotpots, cassoulets, tajines, moussakas, lasagnas, shepherd’s pie, gratins, rice or macaroni timballi, and carbonnades. A distinction can be made between casseroles and stews: stewing is a cooking process whereby heat is applied to the bottom of the cooking vessel (typically over a fire or on a stove), whereas casserole cooking is generally done in an oven where heat circulates all around the cooking vessel. Casseroles may be cooked covered or uncovered, while braised dishes are typically covered to prevent evaporation.
In 1866, Elmire Jolicoeur, a French Canadian immigrant, invented the precursor of the modern casserole in Berlin, New Hampshire. The casseroles, we know today, are a relatively modern invention. Early casserole recipes consisted of rice that was pounded and added to a savory mixture of meats such as chicken or sweetbreads. Some time around the 1870s, casseroles underwent a change and cooking in earthenware containers and the idea of a one-dish meal became popular in America. By in the 1950s, new forms of lightweight metal and glassware appeared on the market and, by the 1970s, casseroles took on a less-than sophisticated image.
Southern Italy is the land of combinations, so casseroles fit in perfectly. While they certainly enjoy a piece of simple grilled fish with lemon juice drizzled on it, you will find other dishes, such as lasagna, eggplant parmesan, or baked codfish with bay leaves and fennel. The mixing of certain vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes to make a colorful Ciambotta, a mixed vegetable stew, cooked in four separate steps, is unique. The cooking of the southern Italians is, also, evolutionary. Take for example the Teglia (or tiella) Barese, a Pugliese casserole classic from Bari (mussels baked in a casserole with rice). This dish was not thought out or designed. It just happened through time.
The Arab people introduced rice into southern Italy, somewhere around the year 800. Additionally they occupied Spain and introduced it there (perhaps giving us a first look at paella), and probably inspiring the combination of rice and mussels. After cooking this dish many times, the cook added just a bit of vegetables because they were at hand or because the yield had to accommodate one more mouth. The cheese, always at arm’s length, soon found its way into the dish. The addition of potatoes and tomatoes dates this version of the Tiella, to after the mid-1500’s or so, because potatoes were not known in Italy before then. They came from the new world along with tomatoes, chocolate, corn and turkey. After the Tiella made its way this far, it became a classic dish. Similar Casseroles were conceived, ingredient by ingredient, probably by necessity or availability, and eventually they became standards.
Baked Ciambotta (Mixed Vegetable Stew)
Good as a side for Roast Pork
Makes 6 servings
- 1 large eggplant, about 1 lb.
- 1 lb. large, firm russet-type potato
- 4 bell peppers, red and green mixed
- 1 lb. fresh ripe, firm tomatoes chopped, or use 14 1/2 oz. canned diced tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil, as needed, for sauteeing
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed almost to paste
- Salt to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper
Trim off the stem and leaves from the eggplant, peel if you prefer and cut it crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. If young and very fresh there is no need to salt the slices (otherwise see below).
Peel the potatoes and cut them crosswise into 1/8 inch thick slices. Core the peppers and discard the seeds, cut them in 1/4 inch slices lengthwise. Peel and core the tomatoes, and chop them.
Put just enough oil in a large frying pan to barely cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, saute the eggplant slices until they are nicely browned on both sides turning once. Add more oil as needed. Remove them to a large casserole that will eventually hold everything.
Alternately, you can grill the eggplant slices instead of sauteeing. Brush slices with olive oil and grill on a stove top grill until browned and soft.
Brown the potato slices and put them into the casserole with the eggplant. Cook the peppers until they are lightly brown, and add to the casserole.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Scatter on the chopped tomatoes, the garlic, salt and pepper and mix well but carefully.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbling. Serve hot on its own, or use as a contorno, side dish, for roasted or grilled meat, fowl or big fish.
NOTE: To remove excess water from eggplant or remove bitterness in older ones, sprinkle both sides of the slices liberally with salt. Place in a non-reactive colander overlapping each other. Place a bowl or a dish inside the colander on top of the eggplant slices, and place a 1 or 2 pound weight on it. Let stand for about 1 hour. Rinse slices quickly under cold running water and pat dry.
Braised Beef Braciola Stuffed with Basil and Mozzarella
This is an easier version of the Italian-American classic. The traditional dish uses small slices of beef round, but in this recipe, a whole flank steak is used because it’s easier to stuff and roll one large cut and flank steak has great flavor.
- One 2 lb. flank steak
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded skim mozzarella
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/3 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
- 12 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup red wine
- One 28-oz. container Pomi strained tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered
Set the flank steak on a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice the steak lengthwise down the middle (about 1/4 inch) and cut toward the edge without cutting all the way through the meat. Repeat with the other side and open it up like a book. Using a meat mallet, flatten the meat so it is about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle both sides of the meat with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
For the stuffing, put the mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, bread crumbs, and basil in a food processor and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the stuffing evenly over the beef, leaving a one inch border all around, and roll it up lengthwise, jelly roll–style, enclosing the stuffing. Secure with kitchen twine in five or six places.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering. Add the beef and cook until it browns and releases easily from the pan, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until browned, about 5 more minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
Add the onion to the pan and lower the heat to medium. Sprinkle onion with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the onion wilts completely and turns a light brown, about 8 minutes. Add the red wine and cook, stirring, until almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and tuck the meat and mushrooms into the broth. Cover and cook, turning the meat occasionally, until the meat becomes tender and cuts easily with a paring knife, about 1-1/2 hours. Set the meat on a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Thinly slice and serve topped with the reheated sauce and vegetables. Serve with Sautéed Broccoli Raab and a Potato Gratin or pasta.
Braised Italian Chicken with Green Beans, Tomatoes & Olives
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and each cut into 3 uniform pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut in half
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1/3 cup dry red wine
- 1 – 14-1/2-oz. can low sodium diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup pitted Italian olives
Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Spread the flour on a plate, and lightly dredge the chicken in the flour. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or flameproof casserole over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering hot. Cook the chicken in two or three batches (to avoid crowding the pot) until well browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer each batch to a plate as it finishes.
Return the chicken to the pot, add the green beans, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the red wine and cook until it almost completely evaporates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a steady simmer. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add the olives, and continue simmering with the lid ajar until the chicken and green beans are very tender, about 5 minutes more. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Garlic bread.
Braised Red Snapper Puttanesca
Black sea bass makes a good substitute for snapper in this recipe, if red snapper is not available in your area.
- 4 – 5-oz. skinless red snapper fillets (about 3/4 inch thick)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 – 14-1/2-oz. cans petite-diced low sodium tomatoes
- 2 anchovy fillets, minced
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise (about 3 oz.)
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Season the snapper all over with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the sauce.
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juice, anchovies, olives, 2 tablespoons of the basil, capers, and pepper flakes to the pan. Bring the sauce to a brisk simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are tender and the juices have reduced to a saucy consistency, about 8 minutes.
Nestle the snapper fillets into the sauce, spooning some on top to keep the fish moist. Tightly cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil and braise in the oven until the fish is almost cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness.
With a slotted spatula, transfer the snapper to 4 shallow serving bowls. If the sauce seems too thin, simmer over medium-high heat until thickened to your liking. Stir the remaining basil, the oregano and vinegar into the sauce and spoon it over the fish. Serve with polenta or couscous.
Italian Sausage Rigatoni Bake
For a vegetarian entree replace the sausage with 1 large (1 cup) red bell pepper, cut into strips and 1 large (1 cup) yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 each sweet and hot Italian sausages (any type meat), sliced thin
- 12 oz. rigatoni pasta (whole grain if possible)
- 2 cups prepared marinara sauce, see post for recipe: http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/19/hello-world/
- 2 medium-size ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn coarsely
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
- 12 oz. skim mozzarella (6 slices and dice the remainder)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 x 2–inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the sausages and cook, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl lined with paper towels. Remove paper after a few minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 12 minutes. Drain well and add to the sausage bowl along with the marinara sauce, tomatoes, basil, oregano, pepper flakes, diced mozzarella, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and cover the top with the mozzarella slices.
Bake until the cheese is melted and the pasta is heated through, about 20 minutes.
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The ancient ancestors of eggplant grew wild in India and were first cultivated in China in the 5th century B.C. Eggplant was introduced to Africa before the Middle Ages and then into Italy, the country with which it has long been associated, in the 14th century. The eggplant made its first appearance in Sicily, and then, in other Italian southern regions, such as Naples and Calabria.
Eggplant Parmesan was often seen on our dinner table and my mother was fond of making this dish. As a child, I always enjoyed Eggplant Parmesan and I would look forward to when my mother made this for us. It wasn’t until much later that I realized how fattening Eggplant Parmesan can be when made in the traditional way because it is breaded, fried and covered in melted cheese. I have worked out a recipe that is delicious and healthy, if not traditional. I will share that preparation with you in this post.
Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should be vivid. They should be free of discoloration or scars or bruises, which usually indicates that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed.
The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in color. As you would with other fruits and vegetables, avoid purchasing eggplant that has been waxed. To test for the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while if an indentation remains, it is not.
I am fortunate to participate in a CSA ( Community Supported Agriculture) where I live and I am able to get wonderful eggplant all summer long. With so much eggplant at one time, I learned to prepare the eggplants for the freezer during the summer for future use.
Although they look hardy, eggplants are actually very perishable and care should be taken in storing them. Eggplants are sensitive to both heat and cold . Do not cut eggplant before you store it as it perishes quickly once its skin has been punctured or its inner flesh exposed.
Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for only a few days. If it is too large for the crisper, do not try to force it in; this will damage the skin and cause the eggplant to spoil and decay. Instead, place it on a shelf within the refrigerator.
If you purchase eggplant that is wrapped in plastic film, remove it as soon as possible, since the plastic will inhibit the eggplant from breathing and degrade its freshness.
When cutting an eggplant, use a stainless steel knife, as carbon steel will react with the eggplant flesh and cause it to turn black. Wash the eggplant first and then cut off the ends before peeling.
Making Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan is not a dish that can be prepared quickly, but with some of my make ahead tips, you can enjoy this entrée for dinner and have several leftovers for future use without spending all day in the kitchen. Eggplant freezes very well in all stages of its preparation, which makes this an ideal vegetable to work with in your food preparation.
I usually prepare 4-1 pound eggplants at once and freeze them, individually, for future use.
For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:
- 1 pound eggplant, peeled
- 1/2 cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters)
- 1 cup Italian style Progresso bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with nonstick olive oil cooking spray.
Cut peeled eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.
Place the egg substitute in one shallow dish and the bread crumbs in another.
Dip the eggplant slices into the egg substitute mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.
If you are not going to assemble the eggplant dish at this time, wrap each batch of eggplant in aluminum foil with foil sheets between the layers and place it in a zip lock freezer bag. Store in the freezer until you need it. Defrost a package overnight in the refrigerator, when you want to make the casserole.
To assemble the casserole, you will need:
Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 1/2-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
- 2 ½ cups Marinara sauce (see earlier post for the recipe)
- 1-8 ounce package Sargento® Shredded Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Italian Cheese (You certainly can use mozzarella cheese, if that is your preference.)
Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with half of the package of cheese. Add a layer of the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Makes 6 servings and each serving is less than 200 calories.
Another Way to Use this Versatile Vegetable
One of my daughters-in-law is crazy about eggplant, so I try to come up with numerous dishes that fit different occasions for when she visits. The following recipe for Eggplant Rolls ( Eggplant Rollatini) is an excellent appetizer dish. Some chefs do not peel eggplant for this dish, but I prefer peeled eggplant because the dish will be more tender without the peel.
- 1 eggplant about 1 lb. Peeled and cut into 8 lengthwise slices. (Try to pick an eggplant that is more long than wide.)(See photo below.)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon each of finely chopped fresh oregano, thyme, and basil ( or ¼ teaspoon each of dried herbs)
- ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
- 1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
- 4 ounces Sargento® Shredded Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Italian Cheese
- 1 1/2 cups Marinara sauce
Combine the ricotta, Sargento cheese, herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl and refrigerate while you prepare the eggplant.
Heat a grill pan or the broiler. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil. Grill or broil eggplant slices three minutes on each side or until lightly brown. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the filling on each eggplant slice. Roll up tightly, jelly roll style. Place the eggplant rolls in a greased baking dish and drizzle with marinara sauce.
Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Arrange on a serving plate with fresh herbs to decorate.
Makes 8 appetizer servings.