Today, I am telling you to turn your oven on.
I know a lot of you are like she’s crazy, BUT it was thunder storming all day yesterday. Basically, just the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up and take a nap. Actually, it didn’t just rain, it hailed, and if you have ever experienced Colorado hail, well then you know, one – it’s HUGE, and two – it hurts.
I know this because I decided I’d better get the garbage in before it poured and filled the empty cans up. Only I procrastinated and waited till the last possible second. I walked outside and it began hailing.
I seriously have little pellet marks in my skin from the hail hitting me so hard. And the trash? The trash is something you totally need a boyfriend for. Definitely a guy’s job.
So yeah, yesterday I just needed to turn on my oven and bake something a little cozy.
I also really, really needed to use up my eggplant, as you can see from the above photo. Every year I buy eggplant with the idea that for some reason I will like it a little bit more than the year before, but then it sits in my fridge forever because I don’t know what to do with it. So when in doubt, bake it and cover it in cheese. Works out pretty good every time.
Since I am not hugely in love with eggplant I made this with zucchini too. It was a good idea because it gives the dish a little different texture and well, it’s not just a bunch of saucy eggplant and cheese. Now there is zucchini in the mix too!
Oh, and of course the quinoa. Well I wasn’t sure how the quinoa part to this would work, but it actually turned out pretty awesome. While baking, the quinoa soaks up some of the sauce (so use extra sauce if you like things saucy) and becomes chewy with a slight bit of crunch to it. It’s the perfect texture, plus it bumps up the health factor which of course, is a nice little bonus.
And even though this takes a little time to make, most of the time is in the baking. It’s a pretty simple and straight forward recipe. You can even assemble the whole thing in advance and then just bake before dinner. Perfect summer supper!
Of course it doubles quite nicely as a great cozy comfort meal on a rainy summer day!
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl combine the quinoa, bread crumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. In another smaller bowl whisk together the eggs.
- Working in an assembly line dip the zucchini and eggplant slices through the eggs and then dredge them through the quinoa mixture, very gently shaking to remove excess. Place on the prepared baking sheet and continue with the remaining zucchini and eggplant slices. If you are having trouble getting the quinoa to adhere to the veggies, just sprinkle the quinoa over both sides of the veggies and place on the baking sheet. It will bake together in the oven. Sprinkle the veggies generously with salt and pepper. Spray lightly with cooking spray or olive oil spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes rotating the pan after 15 minutes. The veggies should be lightly golden and crisp.
- Meanwhile, add the remaining 1 egg, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, basil, garlic and crushed red pepper to a bowl. Mix until smooth.
- Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish or other dish equivalent in size. Spread about 1-2 cups of pasta sauce on the bottom.
- Place a layer of zucchini and eggplant over the sauce. Spread half the ricotta mixture over the zucchini and eggplant. Spread another cup or so of pasta sauce over top. Layer with more zucchini and eggplant, saving a few for the final layer. Sprinkle the veggies with the fontina cheese and then add the remaining ricotta mixture plus another cup or so of sauce. Add the remaining zucchini + eggplant and then pour the remaining sauce over top. Cover tightly with foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, remove and top with the mozzarella. Bake un-covered for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Serve with hot pasta and fresh parmesan.
*Adapted from Cooking Light
And be sure to serve this over pasta. Like do not even think about skipping it.