September Meal Plan Week 2: Eggplant 3 Ways!

One vegetable starring in three different dishes! I have to admit, I haven't always been an eggplant fan. I liked it at restaurants, but I could never cook it quite right at home. My eggplant parm always turned out watery, my grilled eggplants rubbery, my sauteed eggplants mushy. But eggplant has so many redeeming qualities-- it's hearty and meaty, but much more affordable than meat if you're on a budget, plus it's low in calories and high in fiber, making it a wholesome option for staying fit. I knew I had to keep at it.

And then I FINALLY discovered the eggplant secret! Baking with a pinch of salt and olive oil under high heat until golden brown and just a little crispy around the edges. Suddenly, my eggplant dishes were delicious! Sometimes my roasted eggplant slices don't even make it into the recipe anymore because they are sooo good right out of the oven! But if you can control yourself, this meal plan will give you three, fool-proof roasted eggplant recipes which can be whipped up any night of the week. These meals will easily feed a family of four and should come together in under 30 minutes.

Try out one of the individual recipes below:

Or follow the meal plan and make all three! The meal plan features a farmers market shopping list and recipe adaptations that make it easy to prep ingredients on Sunday and assemble quick and healthy dinners throughout the week.

Eggplant Meal Plan

Saturday Farmers Market Shopping List

  • 7 medium eggplants (3 for the first recipes, 2 for the second recipe, 2 for the third recipe). Feel free to mix and match with whatever varieties you like!

  • 2 large onions

  • 2 red peppers (or any preferred variety)

  • 1 head garlic

  • 1 bunch basil

  • 1 bunch cilantro

Sunday Preparation

1. Wash and slice eggplants into ½ inch thick slices.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil, and place in a single layer on two or more baking sheets. Bake until undersides are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, then turn and bake until other sides are lightly browned. Another 10-15 minutes.

3. Remove eggplants and let them cool, uncovered, for a 20-30 minutes and then store in airtight containers in the refrigerator until needed.

Recipe 1: Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Adapted from Jamie Oliver and New York Times Cooking

  • 3 medium-large eggplants, cut into ½ inch slices and roasted.

  • Olive oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1 28-ounce can no-salt plum tomatoes or crushed tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • ½ bunch basil leaves (about 1/2 cup)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, or as needed

  • ⅓ cup fine dry bread crumbs

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add onion. Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and dried oregano and sauté another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and their juices, breaking up whole tomatoes with your hands. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Add vinegar, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Into a 9-by-9-inch, 10-by-5-inch or 10-by-6-inch baking pan, spoon a small amount of tomato sauce, then add a thin scattering of Parmigiano, then a single layer of eggplant. Repeat until all ingredients are used, ending with a little sauce and a sprinkling of Parmigiano.

4. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs and oregano, if using, with just enough olive oil to moisten.

5. Bake until eggplant mixture is bubbly and center is hot, 30 to 45 minutes depending on size of pan and thickness of layers. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Recipe can also be reheated.

Photo from New York Times Cooking

Recipe 2: Eggplant Muffaletta Sandwiches

  • ½ block mozzarella cheese

  • 1 loaf French bread (Or your favorite hearty sandwich bread)

  • Muffaletta mix (I like to get mine from the Olive Bar at Schnucks)

  • ½ bunch basil leaves (about 1/2 cup)

  • 2 red peppers

  • 2 medium eggplants, cut into half inch slices and roasted.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Wash and core peppers and cut into wide strips. Layer on a greased backing sheet and back for 15 minutes or until peppers begin to soften and caramelize on the edges. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees.

3. Cut French loaf in half and hollow out the center of the top half by pulling out excess bread. This can be discarded or saved for making delicious croutons or bread crumbs.

4. Layer eggplant slices and roasted peppers onto bottom half of the bread. Fill hollow top half with muffaletta mix, and then layer with slices of mozzarella and fresh basil. Carefully sandwich the two sides together.

5. Place sandwich on baking sheet and bake in over for 10 minutes or just until cheese begins to melt. Optional: To make pressed sandwiches, place the baking sheet with sandwiches into the oven and place a 9 x 13 casserole pan filled with water directly on top of the sandwiches. Bake for 10 minutes.

Photo from Feasting at Home

Recipe 3: Eggplant and Chickpea Curry

Adapted from The Endless Meal

  • 1 ½ Tablespoons coconut oil, divided

  • 1 - package of medium-firm tofu, cubed and dried with paper towel OR pre-roasted and shredded chicken.

  • 2 medium eggplants, cut into half inch slices and roasted.

  • ½ large onion, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin, if you have one)

  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tablespoon garam masala

  • ½ tablespoon each: cumin seeds, turmeric, sea salt

  • Optional: ½ - 1 teaspoon chili flakes

  • ¼ cup tomato paste

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • ½ can water

  • 1 - 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • Cilantro, to serve

Directions

1. Chop eggplants into smaller 1 inch cubes.

2. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the coconut oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and pan fry until golden brown on 2 sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan.

3. Heat the remaining ½ Tablespoon of coconut oil in the same pan. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it softens. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the garam masala, cumin seeds, and turmeric to the pan and let them toast for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the sea salt, optional chili flakes (if using) and the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

4. Add the coconut milk and water to the pot, bring it to a boil and stir, scraping the bottom for any stuck on bits. Simmer uncovered for 12-15 minutes to let ingredients blend together.

5. Stir the eggplant cubes, chickpeas, and tofu (or chicken) and let them heat through. Serve with some rice (or cauliflower rice) and garnish with cilantro on top.

Photo from The Endless Meal

#FarmersMarketMealPlan #Recipes

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