Thursday, May 12, 2011

Eggplant (& Lamb) Manicotti

From Everyday Flexitarian: Recipes for Vegetarians and Meat lovers alike

Printable Recipe

Serves 4-6

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 large cloves garlic
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup packed spinach leaves
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup packed Italian/flat leaf parsley
½ cup shredded Swiss Cheese (I used Kraft shredded Quatro Fromagio)
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
3 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese (best if you grate your own from a block of cheese)
2 large eggplants, cut lengthwise into ¼” thick slices (12 slices total)
3 cups tomato sauce
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese (I used Kraft shredded Quatro Fromagio)
Lamb option: (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
6oz/175g ground lamb, beef or turkey

1. Preheat the oven to 500°F/260°C and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanups) and move oven rack to top position.

2. To toast the sunflower seeds, use a large, heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sunflower seeds. Stir and toss for 3-4 minutes. Be careful you don’t let them burn. They should just be golden.
3. Using a food processor, motor running, drop the garlic down the feeding tube. Stop the motor and add the rest of the filling ingredients and puree. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. The filling can be made up to 2 days in advance.
Lamb option: (optional)
4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion & garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. The onions should be golden.

5. Add the ground lamb and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often and breaking up the clumps until the lamb is no longer pink ( 5-8 minutes). Drain the meat using a slotted spoon and allow to cool in a separate bowl. If you are doing both at one meal, separate the filling and add the lamb to one portion. How large a portion depends on how many carnivores and how many vegetarians.

6. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet. (I brushed a bit of olive oil on the foil before placing the slices on it and then lightly brushed the tops). Broil on the top rack for about 3-5 minutes. The eggplant should be soft and not crisp. You might need to do this in two batches.

7. Reduce the heat to 375°F/190°C and move the oven rack down to the center. If you’re planning on making both vegetarian and lamb manicotti for the same meal, make sure you prepare separate baking dishes. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish(es).

8. Place 2 tbsp of filling at the lower end of an eggplant slice and then roll up the slice around the filling. Place the rolled eggplant – the “manicotti” on the tomato sauce, remember to keep the cheese and meat rollups separate.

9. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the manicotti and then sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the eggplant is tender and the sauce is thick and bubbly.

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