January 22, 2014 by caitlinvaclark
… of the week. For some reason Mondays don’t scream “meatless” to me. Maybe it’s because we still have leftovers from a hearty Sunday dinner that I want to eat for lunch. Or usually it’s that I’ve spent the weekend cooking and kind of want a night off or at least just to make a quick mindless meal. But meatless can be quick and mindless, you say. Yes, but if I’m going to take on this “meatless some-day-of-the-week challenge” I want it to be new and exciting and adventurous.
In this Monday’s case, we got back late the night before from Copenhagen (I can’t wait to tell you about our meal at Noma and our whole trip, but I will wait so I can cook up some Danish inspired bites, upload all my pictures, and do the trip true justice) and it was hard enough to get my act together and get to the store to cook something, anything, for dinner, let alone get creative with a vegetarian main.
That said, we have been keeping with eating vegetarian one day a week for January. Well, the meatless entire days have been only happening for me because I keep forgetting to tell Chris (and my sister-in-law who is currently staying with us, but who am I to restrict her diet anyways?) the day that I’ve chosen. Yesterday I thought I’d be in the clear because I packed him snow pea sesame noodles for lunch. But apparently he started his day with a bacon roll at a work meeting. Oops.
Last week I attempted to make a vegetarian Indian dahl with spinach and homemade naan bread. In my mind I thought I was going to have this fabulous afternoon in the kitchen, checking lots of New Years food goals off my list. Not only was I sticking to a meatless day but I was trying out a new kind of bread and experimenting with unfamiliar cuisine.
I’d say I was about 30 minutes away from completing dinner when I started really doubting this whole enterprise. The dough was very very sticky and I ended up using double the flour the recipe called for just so I could work with it. But more importantly the lentils were very blah. Like, oh-this-is-why-I-could-never-be-a-vegetarian blah.
I really like Indian food but didn’t grow up with it. Since it’s not something I cook often, I’m not nearly as versed in how to tweak the recipe to make it better. It’s actually something Chris introduced me to when we started dating. My husband could eat Indian take-away a few times a week. But I don’t think he had my boiled bland lentils in mind when he suggested we do a curry for dinner. In the end, I just kept adding a pinch of this and a dash of that and a lot of salt. Far from authentic, but edible.
So just when I was thinking I could never live the life of a vegetarian, I came up with this recipe. I’ve said many times before that I love risotto. Love cooking it. Love eating it. Love it. I also don’t really miss the meat when I have a really good Eggplant Parm. So I combined the two to make this magical bowl of vegetarian goodness: Eggplant Parmesan Risotto.
Be sure to roast the eggplant in a very hot oven so it browns while evaporating its moisture so it isn’t soggy.
You can start the risotto while the eggplant roasts. The key is to add a little bit of vegetable broth at at time, only adding more broth when the liquid begins to be absorbed and starchy.
Once about three cups of broth have been added, check that the rice is al dente. Then gently stir in the roasted eggplant and half of the passata. Absorb the tomato liquid as you did the broth.
Then add the remaining passata and some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Just before serving, turn off heat and stir in the fresh cubed mozzarella and basil.
Eggplant Parmesan Risotto
2 medium eggplants
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup white wine
3 cups vegetable broth
¼ cup parmesan
1 ¼ cup tomato passata
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
¼ cup fresh chopped basil
Heat oven to 450˚ F.
Dice eggplant into 1” cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Heat ½ Tbs. olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, sauté for 3 minutes. Then add the Arborio and garlic and toast for 2 more minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir until just dissolved.
Begin adding the broth in the same manner, about 1/3 cup at a time. Stir rice continually as the liquid is absorbed. When the rice soaks up most of the liquid and only a bubbly starch remains, add more broth. Continue 1/3 cup at a time until all the broth has been added.
Stir in the roasted eggplant and ½ cup of the passata. Allow the risotto to thicken again. Add the remaining passata and parmesan cheese and heat through.
Turn off heat and stir in the mozzarella and basil.