ISA’S EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA PLUS
1 cup of ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons of cilantro pesto (you may know it as coriander pesto)
½ cup of Parmesan cheese
1 white onion, diced finely
½ zucchini finely diced (you can used green or yellow or a combination of both)
1 cup of cooked quinoa (I used some leftover quinoa with cremini mushrooms and blanched kale from the previous day)
2 eggplants, peeled and cut into ½ inch rounds (I could have used only one)
1 cup of a pasta sauce of your choice (add more if you need to)
½ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
Using a food processor or blender place the first 4 ingredients and blend them to form a paste, adding more of any of the ingredients to make the paste to your taste. Add the finely diced zucchini and onions to the paste.
In a Pyrex cover the bottom with some of the pasta sauce, then arrange one level of eggplant rounds, cover them with the ricotta paste plus some of the quinoa (see my recipe, if you wish), some Parmesan cheese and a little of the pasta sauce. Then proceed to do a second and third level of the eggplant rounds.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for the first half-hour and then put the temperature up to 400 degrees for another 30 minutes. I found that since it was three levels thick it was not cooking enough at the lower temperature, so after the first half hour I decided to put the temperature up. (I guess my oven is not too hot). During the last 10 minutes of cooking time I sprinkled the mozzarella cheese and some more shredded Parmesan and put it back in the oven until the cheese melted to a nice rich color.
CILANTRO (CORIANDER) PESTO
1 bunch of cilantro
2 cloves of peeled garlic
⅓ cup Parmesan cheese (sometimes I put more according to how large the ‘bunch’ of cilantro was)
½ cup soaked walnuts or pecans or pine nuts (I used sliced almonds this time – not soaked)
1 tablespoon mild vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
⅓ to ½ cup healthy oil (mixture of olive oil and coconut oil if you wish)
Put all ingredients into a food processor.
I use this pesto for pasta, potatoes, quinoa, vegetables, chicken, and other meats or simply mixed with cream cheese, cottage and ricotta cheeses as it makes a tasty spread.
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QUINOA WITH CREMINI MUSHROOMS AND BLANCHED KALE
1 cup quinoa
2 cups of water or broth
¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of grapeseed oil
1 container of cremini mushrooms, chopped and cooked in a frying pan with garlic and a little bit of grapeseed oil, salt and pepper to taste. On this occasion I added 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar while the mushrooms were cooking.
4 leafs of blanched kale chopped (I blanched the kale for 4 minutes in boiling water, and immediately after the 4 minutes, I placed the kale in iced cold water to stop the cooking process).
Combine the 1 cup of quinoa, 2 cups of water or broth, salt, and the oil in a saucepan and bring to a boil. After it reaches a boil, turn heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork and then add the cooked cremini mushrooms and the chopped kale.
When I cook quinoa, I only add the olive oil and balsamic or apple cider vinegar to the portion that I am going to eat at the moment. This allows me to be able to use the leftover quinoa in some other dish which may not call for those ingredients.
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