Vegetable noodles, vegetable salad ribbons…there’s no shortage of creative ways to cook with spiralized vegetables. This past week I had two eggplants sitting on my counter and I wanted to make something different with them. I started down the “spiralize” path — which, I discovered, is possible but tricky because of its soft flesh and plentiful seeds — but landed on the idea of using “ribbons” instead. Shaving vegetables into ribbons seemed easy enough and repurposing eggplant into pasta noodles seemed like a smart idea…so why not?! If you’re looking for a deliciously simple twist on a traditional cannelloni dish look no further…this Eggplant Ribbon Style Cannelloni packed with flavour without the carbs.
Three reasons why you should give this recipe a try:
- 1/Chances are you’ve never tried eggplant noodles… so give it a go! On its own, the flesh of an eggplant can be too mushy or chewy but by roasting the eggplant ribbons with a touch of olive oil and salt first, the eggplant takes on the consistency of a noodle. Since eggplant absorbs flavour so well it allows the bold flavours to shine in this dish.
- 2/This recipe will get you hooked on Chimichurri spice blend. If you’re not familiar with chimichurri — a staple of Argentinian cuisine – it’s an uncooked sauce made with parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes and red wine vinegar that is typically served on grilled meat. For this recipe I seasoned (rehydrated and shredded) soy curls with a Chimichurri-inspired spice blend and cooked it in a rich, homemade tomato sauce to create a zesty filling that is as unique as the eggplant noodles it’s stuffed in.
- 3/You won’t shy away from putting eggplants on your market shopping list after trying this dish!
How I’d describe this dish if I didn’t have my photographer extraordinaire husband snapping glamour shots of it:
Roasted (and slightly salted) eggplant noodles stuffed with a creamy blend of sautéed onion and spinach and chimichurri-seasoned soy curls topped with a smooth, delicate tomato sauce and topped with savoury parmesan cheese and mozzarella shreds.
Inquiring minds want to know:
*Widely considered a vegetable, eggplant is actually a fruit. They are related to tomatoes as they’re both part of the nighshade family.
*An eggplant is more than 90% water hence it has very few calories. Approx. 100 grams of raw eggplant will contain only 24 calories
*Eggplants are rich in fiber and a great soruce of anti-antioxidants, one of the body’s best lines of defense against a wide variety of diseases and conditions.*
*Eggplants are a source of phytonutrients, which have long been known to boost mental health.
No compromising here:
Cutting out cheese – especially parmigiano-reggiano – was admittedly the hardest part of switching over to a plant-based diet. Fast forward 15 months and I can honestly say I don’t miss it. Since developing this savoury parmesan cheese recipe I can incorporate plant-based parmesan into my favourite Italian-inspired recipes without giving up on taste. Here are a few of my go-to recipes in which vegan “cheeze” shines:
1/Classic Three Cheese Vegan Lasagna
2/Creamy Broccoli Cauliflower Tomato Sauce
3/Spaghetti with Meatless Meatballs
Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance; however, it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. multi-function processor, immersion blender etc).
Eggplant Ribbon-Style Cannelloni
1/Remove both ends of each eggplant; slice thinly lengthwise. Place eggplant slices on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Drizzle olive oil and a few pinches of salt over the slices. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool. You want it tender but not too mushy to roll!!
- 2 eggplants (medium-large sized)
- Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
- Olive oil
Healthy Vegan Parmesan Cheese (Makes 1 cup)
- 3/4 cup cashews, raw (110g)
- 1 tsp hemp seeds, raw and unshelled
- 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp lemon juice, fresh
Classic Tomato Sauce
- 1 medium onion, halved (75g)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled (10g)
- Olive oil (15g)
- Tomato sauce (One 680ml jar/630g)
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (15 g)
- 1 Tbsp cane sugar (5g)
- 1 Tbsp vegetable bouillon powder (10g)
- 1/2 cup water (110g)
- Pinch of dried basil (<5g)
- Pinch of Himalayan pink salt (<5g)
- 1/4 cup savoury parmesan cheese (40g)
- Small onion, halved (70g)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled (10g)
- 1 cup fresh spinach (25g)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (20g) + extra for pan-frying soy curls
- 1 pkg soy curls, rehydrated (8oz/227g) (See Recipe Notes section)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika (<5g)
- 1 tsp dried parsley (<5g)
- 4 tsp chimichurri spice blend (5g) (Blend of oregano, parsley, thyme, smoked paprika, chili flakes, onion powder, garlic powder and/or sea salt)
- 2 tsp Himalayan pink salt (5g)
- 1/2 cup prepared Classic Tomato Sauce (recipe above)
- 1 cup vegan mozzarella shreds (165g) + ½ cup reserved for garnish
- 1/2 cup savoury parmesan cheese (65g) + ¼ cup reserved for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
1/While eggplants are cooking, prepare the savoury parmesan cheese:
- Place cashews and hemp seeds in the Thermomix mixing bowl. Grind 7 sec/Speed 7.
Note: Be careful not to overgrind.
- Add salt and garlic powder to the TM bowl. Using the Turbo setting (1.0 sec) pulse twice.
- Add lemon juice to the TM bowl. Using the Turbo setting( 0.5 sec) plus three times.
- Transfer the prepared cheese to a small mixing bowl; set aside.
2/Once the parmesan cheese is made prepare the Classic Tomato Sauce:
- Add onion and garlic to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add oil to the TM bowl. Sauté onions and garlic for 3 mins/120C/Speed 1.
- Add remaining ingredients (tomato sauce through salt). Cook 3 mins/100C/Speed 1.
- Add parmesan cheese. Blend 15 sec/Speed 4; set aside.
3/Once the sauce is made prepare the filling:
- Add onion, garlic and fresh spinach to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7.
- Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to the TM bowl. Sauté 3 min/120C/Speed 1.
- Transfer sautéed onion-garlic-spinach mixture to a medium-high heat skillet. Add olive oil, rehydrated soy curls, smoked paprika, dried parsley, chimichurri spice blend and salt to the skillet. Pan fry the soy curls for 5-10 minutes until they start to get crispy.
- Add ½ cup of the reserved Classic Tomato Sauce to the skillet. Fold in – just enough to combine.
- Transfer soy curl-tomato mixture to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 4 (Reverse blade) Note: The soy curls will now be shredded.
- Add 1 cup mozzarella shreds (110g) and ½ cup parmesan cheese to the TM bowl. Cook 3 min/85C/Speed 1 (Reverse blade). Your filling is now ready.
- Transfer the filling from your Thermomix mixing bowl to a medium-size prep bowl.
4/Layer the bottom of the baking dish with approx. half of the Classic Tomato Sauce.
5/Spread a generous amount of the shredded soy curl-cheese mixture on each eggplant slice (approx 2 Tbsp). Roll each eggplant slice and arrange in prepared baking dish, seam side down. Continue until the dish is full.
6/Top the rolled eggplant “cannelloni” with remaining half of the tomato sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella (approx ½ cup ) and parmesan cheese (approx. ¼ cup). Cover baking dish with foil. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes (Note this temperature is lower than the 400F used for the Preparation step when roasting the eggplant ribbons) Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese starts to melt.
*How to rehydrate soy curls:
- 1/Place soy curls (8oz/227g) in water. Add enough warm water to completely cover the curls. Let soak for 10 minutes.
- 2/Drain soy curls and rinse in cold water. Using the underside of a spoon, press gently on the soy curls to release any excess water.