Sunday, April 24, 2011

Recipe: Eggplant Rollatini

Challenge #2 - Eggplant Rollatini, re-invented

Old Eggplant Rollatini contained several NOs for me - breadcrumbs, oil, and ricotta (cow cheese)
The swaps - plain baked eggplant not fried as the base, soft goat cheese as the filling

The following made 8 rolls:
1 medium egpplant thinly sliced lengthwise (thin enough to roll) (I leave the skin on)
Approx. 5oz soft goat cheese
Basil (About 8-10 leaves)
2 cloves garlic  chopped(I like alot of garlic, you may only want 1 for this)
Sea Salt
Homade Marinara or your favorite jarred sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 350.
Salt and let the sliced eggplant sit in a colander for about 15 mins.  Rinse then pat dry.

Line a baking sheet with parchment, place the sliced eggplant on baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until tender.

While slices are baking, in a food processor, add chopped garlic, goat cheese, basil, and pinch of sea salt and pulse until combined.

In a baking dish, add marinara layer to cover the bottom of dish.

When eggplant is done baking, remove from oven.  Place about a teaspoon of stuffing at the end of eggplant slice and  roll. Add roll to backing dish.

When eggplant rolls are all made, cover the top with more marinara and bake for about 20-30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

    Conclusion: I loved it and enjoyed the tangier goat cheese filling.  My husband (meat eater, no dietary restrictions) also loved the updated Eggplant Rollatini.  My old-school Italian dad, well he was a little harder to win over.  He liked the filling, but missed the breaded eggplant slices.

    If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your thoughts.

    The Dinner Party

    Challenge #1 - The Dinner Party 

                My husband and I were invited to attend a birthday dinner for a friend this weekend, with a prix-fixe menu at a restaurant. I’d never been to before. 

                I hesitated to accept the invite because I felt uncomfortable having to order something off the pre-arranged menu.    Between having to specifically instruct the waitress and calling attention to my lifestyle in front of my friends, I was nervous about putting myself in the spotlight.  I decided I need to get over being shy when going out to eat and learn to be confident and request what I want.  It's a restaurant and I should be able to get a nice salad and some veggies. 

                When you’re up against a challenge, you’ve got to have a plan.  My first step was to check out the online menu at the restaurant and get a feel for it.  I searched for dishes they normally served that could be easily modified to fit my diet.  In the past I’ve had success asking a kitchen to swap the meat out of a staple chicken and vegetable dish and amp up the healthy veg to make a dish that worked for me.  Most places will make reasonable accommodations, and starting with something they’re familiar with making is a good approach. 

                Next, because it was a large party and a pre-arranged menu, I called the manager a week before to explain that I eat a specific diet along with being a vegetarian for health reasons.  The manager was very cordial, assuring me that they would make something for me and telling me to let the server know the night of the party.  I was relieved and looked forward to a good dinner.

                My first order of business upon arriving was to scan the party menu, knowing that it was a long shot that anything would work for me.  There was a mixed green salad appetizer option, which was fine, but not surprisingly the entrees were all meat centered and not going to work. 

                When the moment of truth came and the waitress asked for my order, I asked for the mixed greens app. without dressing, lemon on the side, and goat cheese in addition. (I knew they had goat cheese b/c I read all the menu options ahead of time).  Then for dinner I just asked for a plate of steamed veggies with butter (no oil).  She was perfectly receptive and everything seemed to be going fine.   Best of all, no one thought much of me ordering my own thing and my initial worry about making a spectacle of myself seemed like a distant memory.  The fact that I ordered off menu even broke the ice and my friends were soon asking questions and trying to learn more about why I eat the way I do.  I was pleasantly surprised with how interested people were and I think I may have planted to seeds for a few people to try a bit of my style of food some day!

                Unfortunately, my relief was short-lived. When my plate of steamed veggies came it was a bit on the miniscule side - half a tomato, three pieces broccoli rabe, half a bok choy, and a shredded baby carrot.  Somehow people think that vegetarian means we don’t eat!  The garnish-sized portions left me hungry and disappointed that the staff believed this was sufficient to feed a person for dinner.  I decided not to ask for more because I didn’t want the birthday girl feel bad that I was unhappy with my meal. I should also mention everyone else's portions were also very tiny.

                So I’ve learned a lesson from experience - next time I am in this situation or eating out, I need to ask for a double order of salad and be more specific about the amount of veggies I am expecting. In the past, ordering a side or two of veggies has never been an issue in terms of portion size.  As for the cake part, well I had a yummy dark chocolate bar in my purse and enjoyed a piece of while everyone else chowed down on cake.  

    Mission Statement

    Welcome to my blog!

    Over the past year and a half, my attitude and views about food have radically changed, and I have created this blog as a place to share my ongoing adventures exploring new ways to eat.

    The evolution of my approach to food was brought on by a desire for a healthier lifestyle, including a deeper interest in eating more real food by eliminating most processed foods from my diet.

    In order to do this, I've decided to challenge myself in three different ways:

    1. Creative: Revitalizing old favorites to fit into my new lifestyle of a vegetarian and yeast free diet
    2. Social: Adapt to eating out with friends as a vegetarian.
    3. Adventure: I want to experiment with foods I have never tried before. 

    I hope you enjoy!