Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spinach & Eggplant Casserole

KK and I are heading down to Delaware to celebrate Christmas with his brother's family this weekend.  I cannot wait to see how big my niece and nephew have grown in the last month! After that visit, we'll continue south and spend a few days at my Dad's house in Virginia.  Before we hit the road, I figured it would be a good idea to clear out the backlog of posts that were meant to be published last month (whoops!) - this being one of the meals I made while we were in Hilton Head for Thanksgiving.  You’ll notice the limited number of ingredients and spices required, which is a must when cooking in a foreign kitchen without a stocked pantry! I only had a small baking sheet, so I had to broil the eggplant in three batches.  If you have a typical baking sheet, I suspect it will only take two rounds to broil everything.  Alternatively, you could grill the eggplant using an outdoor grill.  My dad doesn’t typically eat vegetarian dishes, but the texture of the eggplant made this dish quite filling; I also didn’t hear any complaints from him about the lack of meat! I added ½ a red bell pepper because we didn't have plans to use it in another recipe.  It was a positive addition to the dish, so next time I’ll add a whole bell pepper (already indicated below).  This dish is already full of vegetables – eggplant, spinach, and red peppers – but feel free to go light on the cheese to make it even healthier.

Spinach & Eggplant Casserole
Adapted from Eating Mindfully
Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4

1 large eggplant
2 Tbsp olive oil
Italian seasoning, to taste
6-8 oz. spinach
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jar pasta sauce
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese

1. Cut eggplant into ⅓-to ½-in thick slices.  Brush both sides with olive oil, season with Italian seasoning.  Lay slices on a baking sheet, then cook under a broiler set on high heat for 5 minutes.  Flip over eggplant pieces, and cook for another 5 minutes.

2.  Preheat oven to 375.

3. Meanwhile, steam spinach and red pepper in a lidded nonstick skillet until thoroughly wilted, about 5-10 minutes.

4.  Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Begin layering the casserole with a layer of eggplant slices, then spinach, then sauce.  Continue layering until all of the ingredients are used.  The final layer should be sauce.  Sprinkle cheese on top of the casserole.

5. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until cheese starts to bubble and brown.

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