Pesto and Marinara Eggplant Bake

Tender eggplant, savory pesto, homemade marinara and cheezy tofu ricotta come together to make an incredible dish!  Serve with a warm crusty baguette and fresh green salad.  And don’t forget the red wine!  If you want to go the quick and easy route, just use prepared pesto and pasta sauce, and skip down to the tofu ricotta part of the recipe.

Marinara

  • 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, choped
  • 4-6 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large can of whole tomatoes (or 1 qt.)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (1 tsp. dried)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano (1 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • crushed red pepper and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat about 3 Tablespoons of water in a large pot.  When bubbly, add onions and garlic.  Stir until fragrant.
  2. Add peppers and mushrooms. Cook until moisture from mushrooms is released and evaporates.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 min – 1 hour.
  4. Turn off heat and if you desire a smoother sauce, blend with an immersion blender to reach desired consistency. You could also just transfer some of the sauce to a blender and puree it there, if you prefer.

Pesto

  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup raw slivered almonds (or walnuts)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender or food processor and blend or pulse until it reaches your desired consistency.
  2. Store in an air-tight container.  You will have a lot left over. 🙂

Tofu Ricotta

  • 1 large package firm tofu, drained
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 shakes of garlic powder
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a medium size bowl, mash drained tofu until roughly the consistency of ricotta cheese.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.

Tofu Bake Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Slice 1 large eggplant into 1/2 inch round slices.
  3. Spoon just enough marinara in to cover the bottom of the pan
  4. Lay eggplant in a single layer (or double up if necessary) on top of the sauce.
  5. Top eggplant with ricotta mixture, then the rest of the sauce.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of pesto onto the top and gently spread them out a bit with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

Smoked Apple Sage Pasta

Eating this dish is like taking in warm, forkfuls of flavorful love – a true comfort food.  It reminds me a lot of a dish we used to make back in our omnivore days.  I was in Whole Foods earlier today and discovered a vegan artisan sausage substitute from the Original Field Roast Grain Meat Company.  They had a variety to choose from including Italian, Mexican Chipotle, Wild Mushroom, and Smoked Apple Sage.  I picked the Apple Sage and decided to try “veganizing” our old family favorite.   It turned out fantastic, so of course I had to share it with you!  The beer adds great depth of flavor, and the nutritional yeast lends a savory (almost cheesy) flavor along with tons of amino acids, and B vitamins.

The grain sausage was all natural and full of protein.  It’s main ingriedient is vital wheat gluten, so it wouldn’t be an item you’d want to serve to someone with a gluten intolerance, or Celiac’s disease.  Vital wheat gluten (wheat protein) is also what is used to make seitan, a popular meat alternative affectionately called the “wheat of meat”.

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta (penne or rigatoni)

1/2 cup water

1 package Smoked Apple Sage Grain Sausage, links cut in half lenthwise, then sliced cross-wise in 1/2 inch pieces

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 large bunch (or bag) of spinach, chopped

1 bottle of beer (pale, amber or wheat)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast (add more or less, to taste)

2 teaspoons dried (or 2 Tablespoons fresh) basil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than package directions.
  2. Once pasta has been added to boiling water, start heating the 1/2 cup of water in a large pan, over medium heat.
  3. Add grain sausage and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes have softened and broken down a bit.
  4. Deglaze pan with about 1/2 cup beer.  You may need to add more later.  Keep an eye on it.  Deglazing allows you to scrape the bits that are stuck to the pan and incorporate them back into your sauce.
  5. Drain pasta, once cooked.  Be sure to 1st reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water for the pasta.
  6. Turn off heat.  Add nutritional yeast, basil and spinach to the tomato mixture.
  7. Add drained pasta to the sauce and stir well, until sauce covers the noodles and spinach is wilted.  Add pasta water and/or beer, if it becomes a bit dry as the pasta soaks up the moisture of your sauce.
  8. Plate and dig in!

Spaghetti with Simmered Tomato-Basil Sauce

Nothing says summer like fresh tomatoes ana basil.  This pasta is quick, easy, and BIG on flavor, thanks to the white wine reduction and balsamic vinegar.  It may not look like a lot of sauce for a pound of pasta, but a little goes a long way.  If you like really saucy pasta, you may want to decrease the amount of pasta.  Serve with a nice green salad, and you’ve got yourself a great meal! 

Ingredients

1 pound whole wheat spaghetti

1 small onion, diced

½ cup dry white wine

red pepper flakes, to taste

3-4 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh basil, chopped.

 

Directions

  1. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.
  2. In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, cook the onions and wine until the wine is reduced to about 2 Tablespoons and the onions are translucent
  3. Add remaining ingredients (except the basil) to the onions.  Once bubbly, reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 min.  If sauce starts to get too reduced (dry), feel free to add a little water (a few tablespoons at a time).
  4. While sauce is simmering, add spaghetti to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes less than package directions.  Drain and place back in the pot.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in chopped basil.  Add sauce to the spaghetti in the warm pot and toss to combine.  Manga!