Three days ago, in our San Francisco East Bay valley, it got cold enough to cap our mountain with white fluffy stuff overnight. I took this from the balcony of our office. Unfortunately the snow only lasted till today, as the days are around 59 degrees.
On cold days, like most of us, I yearn for something that will approximate comfort food. With my Middle Eastern background, that will have to include a creamy vegetable, like Eggplant; a starch, since I minimize my carbohydrate intake I chose Brown Rice noodles; and cheese for its melty goodness, Almond cheese or Daiya of course.
This dish offers an antioxidant punch with lycopene-rich cooked tomatoes. The spices and onion add their own health benefits.
You can substitute squash or zucchini for the Eggplant, or a mixture of all three!
My Italian-Style Eggplant Pasta Bake
- 2 medium organic Eggplants, rinsed and peeled in stripes
- 2 c. organic bottled Tomato Sauce
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 small organic white onion, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh organic Basil, coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp. organic Oregano
- 1 tsp. organic Thyme
- Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1- 1/2 c. whole grain, wheat free pasta
- 2 c. Daiya or Almond cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Slice Eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices, and sprinkle each with salt, stacking them as you go. Place eggplant stacks in a large bowl and place a heavy plate or pot on top and compress for 10 – 15 minutes to leach out the bitter juice.
Cook pasta Al Dente according to directions
In the meantime, place tomato sauce, garlic, onion, 1/2 the basil, and the spices in a pot over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes, just to infuse the spices into the sauce.
Remove dish from eggplant stacks, and press each slice between two pieces of unbleached paper towels to remove water and salt. Place eggplant slices on lightly oiled cookie sheets in oven for 10 minutes to soften. I use Coconut oil, but you may use Olive Oil. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large glass baking dish, pour 1/2 c. of the tomato sauce and spread evenly. Place a layer of eggplant slices close together on sauce so they slightly overlap, sprinkle with 1/2 the remaining basil, and 1/3 of the cheese.
Add 1/2 the noodles and 1 c. of sauce. Repeat eggplant, remaining basil and 1/3 cheese. Add the rest of the noodles, the sauce and rest of the cheese.
OPTIONAL: Mix 1 cup of gluten free bread crumbs with 1 tsp. of organic Virgin Olive Oil, a dash of pepper and a dash of thyme, and sprinkle on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with a large green salad.
~ Bon apetit! ♥