Baked Tomato & Eggplant w Friulano Cheese

I love the rich flavor eggplant gets when you roast it. This is a dish I like to make in winter, sort of a comfort food – but healthy. It’s very simple and can easily be made ahead and enjoyed throughout the week. I like to serve it over quinoa but pretty much any grain, lentil or bean would work. This recipe uses japanese eggplant which are long, thin, purple and slightly less bitter than the standard italian variety. Their small size makes them a good choice to pair with with cocktail tomatoes in this dish.

Baked Tomato & Eggplant  IMG_20140113_223357

  • 3 japanese eggplant
  • 1 lb cocktail tomatoes
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated friulano cheese (fontina or mozza also work)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, or your own coarse crumbs

Slice the eggplant into 1/2cm rounds and toss them with 1 tsp salt. Let them sit for 1 hour to draw out some of the water. Drain out the water and toss the eggplant with the oregano, chili flakes, garlic and shallot.

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Slice each of the tomatoes into 4. Place the eggplant and tomatoes into a baking pan. Pack them in fairly tightly since they will shrink alot while cooking.

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Drizzle the olive oil overtop of the veggies. Bake at 400F for 1 hour. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over top of the tomatoes and eggplant and top with breadcrumbs. Bake another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are toasted.

If you’re making quinoa to go with it you’ll need 3/4 cup. Place it into a small pot and cover with 1 1/2 cups water. Add a pinch of salt and bring up to a simmer over high heat. Once simmering, cover and reduce heat to low. It takes about 20 minutes to cook. It’s done when it is light and fluffy and all of the water has been absorbed.

This recipe makes 3 portions, costing 2.25 each including quinoa. Enjoy this delicious light vegetarian dish!

Roasted Cherry Tomato Risotto

Risotto is a creamy Italian rice dish. There are many variations but tomato is classic. This recipe isn’t authentic since I didn’t use any wine or stock and instead opted for water, which is more budget friendly. I don’t find this particular recipe really needs either.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Risotto:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 cups hot water, plus a little splash
  • a heaping 1/4cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see previous post for method)
  • 1 tsp cold butter
  • a handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • a few leaves of fresh basil, torn into small pieces

Makes enough rice for 4 potions.

Have a large baking tray on the counter close by.

In a large sauce pot over medium heat cook your onions and garlic until softened, add in the rice and toast for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up to med-high and add the salt and 1 cup of the water. Cook the rice, stirring occasionally until the liquid has mostly been absorbed then add another cup of water. Continue this way, letting the liquid mostly absorb before adding another cup of water, stirring occasionally, until all 5 cups have been added. Once the last cup of water has been mostly absorbed, pour 3/4 of the rice out onto the tray waiting nearby. Spread it out evenly to cool for later. Add another splash of water and the cherry tomatoes to the pot and return to the heat. Cook another 2 minutes, remembering to stir and take the pot off the heat. Add the butter, parmesan and basil and stir until it is all combined. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Your first portion of risotto is ready!

Once the rest of the rice has cooled on the tray place it in a container and refrigerate. When reheating a portion, you can you a smaller pot or pan. Heat your portion of rice with 1/4 water and the cherry tomatoes over medium-high, stirring, of course. This should only take 2-3 minutes. Once hot, take the pot off the heat and then add in the butter, parmesan and basil.

cherry tom rizzo 2

Risotto pointers –

  1. it’s important to use a very wide pot when making the rice base. the rice should only cover the bottom of the pot and come about 1/2 to 1 inch up the side. This ensures even cooking.
  2. Stir, stir, stir, and… stir. This is what helps create the creamy texture. Your spoon will slough off some of the starch from the grains of rice and mix it into the liquid, giving you the creaminess you want.
  3. Toasting the grains before adding water helps them keep their shape and stay firm through all that stirring. Skipping this step results in mushy broken up rice.
  4. Have some white wine handy? Replace 1/2 cup of the water for wine. Add it in as the first bit of liquid in the pot.
  5. It only takes 20 minutes for the rice to be fully cooked. If making extra for later spread it out on a tray to cool at the 18 minute mark. This is called a risotto base. This way when you’re adding liquid to heat it up again later it won’t end up mushy and over-cooked.