Spring has been pretty slow to start around here. Instead of showers we had snowstorms and golf ball-esque hail. Following a dreary winter with an equally gloomy April is about as depressing as it gets in Canada. We survived winter and we deserve better than this, dammit.
I guess my pledge to not complain about weather since the Japan earthquake/tsunami can be deemed a failure. My pessimism always seems to shine through. Seriously though, I know in the World of Weather it gets much, much worse than hail and there are bigger problems than my inability to wear flipflops most days.
All the same, the only thing about winter that I find even slightly tolerable is the social acceptability of gluttony. Of eating pasta and garlic bread four nights a week and hiding its remnants under parkas. There is nothing else redeemable about those God forsaken months between Christmas and Easter. So, some good can inevitably come from a lengthy winter - the prolonging of the dinnertime carby goodness!
So today, I present to you the latest favourite in a series of favourites - the Eggplant Rollatini from Veganomicon!
Although a bit of a labour intensive project, this recipe absolutely does not fall into the "too much trouble" category. Just make sure you don't try and make it on some random Monday night during the short interval between Work and BookClub. This is, however, a pretty fantastic Sunday night dinner.
You start by making the three recipes within-a-recipe. The first is marinara sauce, which I always make from scratch on some idle Saturday afternoon and then freeze for future use. I won't tell if you cheat and use a store-bought jar.
The second is the Almesan, a vegan parmesan-ish concoction made of almonds, lemon zest and toasted sesame seeds.
The third is tofu ricotta, which I've made before and quite thoroughly disliked.
This recipe for tofu ricotta yielded quite different results for me though, and despite my apprehension I ended up loving it. I'm not sure if it was the ingredients or if it was the fact that I was more diligent about squeezing as much water out of the tofu as humanly possible before combining the ingredients. Either way, quite delicious and perfect for this recipe.
Once those three things are ready to go, you move onto the eggplant, slicing each piece about 1/8" thick. The authors suggest throwing out the end pieces because they aren't uniform and have too much skin, but I used everything (here at the TIV house we can tolerate a lack of aesthetic appeal but we have trouble getting on board with wasting perfectly good food).
Each slice is dipped in a milk and corn starch concoction...
...then submerged into a breadcrumb mixture...
...and then lightly brushed with some olive oil (bonus points if you have a spray bottle).
Even though fried eggplant is one of the greatest things on Planet Earth, I opted for baking the slices instead - both in the interest of convenience and my own personal safety.
Once they are done baking and are cool enough to handle, it's time to make the rollatini!
Starting with a bright green piece of spinach for each eggplant slice...
...topped with the tofu ricotta, almesan and a sprinke of pinenuts (I can't believe I had pinenuts and saffron on the same grocery bill - apparently I think I am a Rockefeller).
Once the filling is in place, the eggplant slice is rolled up all cute and tidy and then given ample opportunity to swim in some marinara sauce in an oven-safe casserole dish.
Ready to be topped with the rest of the marinara and baked for another 20 minutes or so!
The house smelled so good all day.
And to end off, my attempt at a pretty crappy photo of the inside of each rollatini. Who cares what the picture looks like, try this out yourself the next time you want to impress an omni with just how delicious veganism is.
Recipe found here.