December 12, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan Quinoa Casserole

It's definitely comfort food weather. I'm still craving warm, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dishes, and I found a recipe that fills all of those requirements and it's extremely healthy. Picture the classic Italian dish eggplant parmesan. Cozy, right? Too bad it's loaded with calories. But I made a version that is so much better for you and still tastes just like the original.

This casserole has a quinoa base, as opposed to the pasta you would usually have with eggplant parmesan. Quinoa is basically a miracle. You could probably survive solely on quinoa for a good two or three months (except not really). Unfortunately, it doesn't have much flavor, which is why I drown it in marinara sauce; you can either make your own or use your favorite brand if you're short on time. As for the eggplant, I make sure to salt it and press it to make it less bitter and spongy before I saute it and add it to the marinara. All that's left is the cheese, and I add plenty. Since the rest of the dish is so good for you, I don't feel too bad about stirring in a few pounds or so of mozzarella and parmesan (though the deliciousness probably peaks around a cup or two of cheese).

Everything in the casserole is fully cooked, but I bake it for around 20 or 30 minutes so that the cheese melts, the quinoa soaks up the sauce, and all the flavors combine. You can broil it for a few minutes, too, so that the cheese on top gets golden brown. The dish freezes exceptionally well; I recommend freezing it after baking but before broiling so that it reheats quickly but doesn't burn.

1 Cup Quinoa, Cooked
1 1/4 lbs Eggplant, Cubed
1/2 Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
24 oz Tomato Sauce
1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp Dried Basil
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Spread the eggplant on a few sheets of paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Place a few layers of paper towels on top and press something heavy on top of everything. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375F and grease a 9x11" pan.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Add the eggplant and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until eggplant is tender and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes more. Add the tomato sauce, oregano, and basil and bring to a simmer.

Stir the quinoa, eggplant and tomato sauce mixture, mozzarella, and parmesan together. Spread into the prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly. Broil for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Serves 8
Recipe Adapted from The Iron You

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