Here’s a crazy thing about me- I love to browse for recipes, plan my meals, pour a nice glass of wine (after 5:00 of course), and cook the night away. But my favorite thing in the world is when I don’t have to cook dinner. How weird is that? Am I alone here, or are there others who can relate? I guess cooking is a creative outlet for me. I love to do it when I’m inspired and in the mood, and then I could do it all day, but when I’m not in the mood, it feels like punishment. I’ve been kind of busy lately with non-food (AKA work that pays) stuff, so I’ve been finding it hard to be creative. It’s for those really busy days when you look up and it’s 6:00 and you think “Oh crap, what’s for dinner”, that I’m really thankful I planned ahead and have a pan or pot of delicious leftovers in the fridge.
These Eggplant Quinoa Stacks are one of those Oh crap – what’s for dinner recipes that is so easy to make ahead and keeps really well for a few days worth of leftovers. I’ve always loved traditional chicken and eggplant parmesan, but all that breading and frying and time consuming-ness doesn’t work for me most of the time. Plus it’s not the healthiest dish. So I came up with this lightened up veggie version which is perfect for Meatless Mondays, or any night of the week.
Here’s the trick – make a huge double batch of Quinoa Patties ahead of time. You can eat them for another dinner, but freeze all the leftover patties.
Then, when you’re ready to make this dish, just slice up an eggplant, grill the slices, and then layer the quinoa patties, grilled eggplant, some tomato sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella and either parmesan or asiago cheese.
Grilling the eggplant is so much quicker and easier than breading and frying, or even baking it. It also saves lots of extra calories because eggplant is like a sponge, and it absorbs the frying oil. You won’t even notice that you skipped the breading, because the crunchy quinoa patties kind of make up for it. If you make a pan of this on Sunday, you’ll be set for Monday, and maybe even Tuesday. I think it tastes even better the next day. What a nice start to the week!
Grilled Eggplant Quinoa Stacks
- 24 quinoa patties
- 24 slices of eggplant from 2 medium eggplants
- 1- 28 oz can Muir Glen crushed tomatoes with basil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbs olive oil plus extra for brushing eggplant
- 1 1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
- 1 tsp kosher salt plus extra to sprinkle on eggplant
- Chopped fresh basil for garnish optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Thaw quinoa patties if frozen.
- Lightly sprinkle both sides of eggplant slices with kosher salt, and set slices in a large colander for 20-30 minutes, to release some of their moisture.
- Mix cheeses together in a small bowl, and set aside.
- Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large saucepan, and add garlic. Cook garlic for about 30-45 seconds, until fragrant. Do not let it burn!
- Add canned tomatoes to garlic. Season with 1 tsp salt, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- While sauce is simmering, pat eggplant dry, and lightly brush each side with olive oil.
- Grill eggplant slices until slightly charred on each side.
- In a large, 9 x 13 inch baking pan, lay out 12 quinoa patties, and top with some sauce and and about 1 Tbs of the cheese on each. Add a slice of eggplant to each quinoa patty, and top with more sauce and cheese. Repeat with a second layer.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted.
- Top with chopped fresh basil before serving, if desired.
Do you have any favorite make ahead meals?