Sunday, October 13, 2013

Eat to Live Cookbook: Eggplant Cannelloni with Pine Nut Romesco Sauce

Well, as you can see from my photo above, this didn't exactly turn into a "cannelloni" with stuffed and rolled slices of eggplant smothered in Romesco Sauce. It ended up as an eggplant lasagna without the noodles. Why? Because the eggplants available to me on the day that the shopping was done were on the smaller side, not long enough to be able to stuff and roll. So I improvised and laid the ingredients out as you would a lasagna.

But who cares?

This just might be the most delicious Nutritarian entree of all time.

Eggplant Cannelloni with Pine Nut Romesco Sauce
from The Eat to Live Cookbook by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. p. 194-5

Get this recipe here. Just watch out--there's an error. Two tablespoons of raw pine nuts have been mistakenly omitted from the list of ingredients to go in the Romesco Sauce.

Did I like it? omg, there are no words

Was it easy to make with readily available ingredients? This one is a bit of an undertaking, as my mother would say. I would save it for a weekend morning cooking project and not attempt it at night after you come home tired and hungry after a day of work. But heck, the leftovers would sure be nice after a long day of work! But even with that said, it's not difficult to make, there are just a lot of steps with a fair amount of washing and chopping and a number of utensils to wash after (cookie sheets, a large saute pan, a blender, knives and cutting board).

What specifically did I like about the recipe? Outstanding taste and texture. The acidity of the Romesco Sauce really puts this one over the top. I wasn't missing salt AT ALL.

What specifically didn't I like about the recipe? Um . . . nothing. Wait, I just thought of something. I wish there were a lot more leftovers because I don't know when I am going to be able to make this one again!

But really, my only criticisms are about the way the recipe was written as far as the techniques used. Here's some tips and shortcuts from my experience with this recipe:

(1) Cut the eggplant slices thinner than 1/2" thick. More like 1/4" thick. I didn't see why it was necessary to peel the eggplant first, so I just left the skin on.

(2) It took a lot longer than 20 minutes (more like 40-50 minutes) for my eggplant slices to cook, and you really need these to be soft in order for this recipe to work, both to achieve the roll up and also to get the proper consistency/texture in the final dish. Do not under cook your eggplant slices.

(3) Throwing all of the filling ingredients into a saute pan at once isn't such a great idea. I'm a big believer in slowly cooking your chopped onion first, then adding the garlic, then adding the rest of the chopped vegetables in the order from longest to cook to shortest (in this case, it would look like this: onions, garlic, carrots, celery, red pepper--one at a time allowing each one to cook some before adding the next ingredient). I believe you get the best flavor and consistency from this method.

(4) Don't transfer the filling to a mixing bowl. Just leave it in your skillet and add the pasta sauce and shredded cheese. Why would you want to clean up one more bowl?

(5) I used frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's so that I wouldn't have to prepare a grain from scratch and wash another pot. I also used Trader Joe's Organic Marinara Sauce No Salt Added for the pasta sauce. It's excellent and I use so much of it I keep 4 or 5 jars on hand at a time!

(5) I used jarred roasted red pepper for the Romesco Sauce, again to eliminate another step in the preparation.

Interestingly, I received this message on Facebook the other day from Claudia:

"This recipe was created by Chef Martin Oswald, who opened the country's first Nutritarian Bistro. He is a fantastic chef, with an amazing recipe that I think would be difficult to improve on. He made this and served it at last year's Health Getaway, and it was definitely the most popular dish served. People went nuts over it, and were eating tons of it. The kitchen couldn't keep up with the demand, and there were a lot of people that never even got to try it because they got there too late and others had eaten too much of it. At this years Health Getaway it was served again, but I didn't think it was nearly as good, and it definitely was not as popular as last year. It is actually kind of ironic though because overall the food at this year's Health Getaway was way better than last year. Everything was fantastic at this years Health Getaway, but at last years Health Getaway the Eggplant Cannelloni was the one standout dish."

Here's my take on why this happened, and I wasn't even there:

If you don't use the correct techniques to prepare this dish, you will take something with the potential to be amazing and make it fairly inedible. Primarily, you must cook the eggplant fully before rolling the cannelloni to ensure that the eggplant is very soft for the final presentation.

Did my husband like it? Yes, totally.

Did my teenage daughter like it? She tried it, but insists that she really doesn't like eggplant and only took five bites.

Did my eight or five year old try it? No, but I'm really going to work on my 8 year old daughter with this one.

Would I make it again? Yes, and I plan to, especially when entertaining or participating in a pot luck. This could win any adult over to the Nutritarian side.

Overall Grade (completely unscientific, I admit):  A++++++

Have you made Eggplant Cannelloni with Pine Nut Romesco Sauce?  What were your impressions? Leave a comment below. 

Still don't have the book? What are you holding out for?

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