After taking Italian 101 with a special program that allows high school students to take classes at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I am official in love with the beautiful language! I love learning languages and I’ve always dreamed of speaking Italian, so of course I grabbed the opportunity when I had the chance! Anyway, the reason I bring this up was because I was in the mood for some Italian culture, so what did I do… I decided to cook un pasto italiano (an Italian meal)!!!! My dad have recently brought home two eggplants for me that someone had given him, and after brainstorming numerous ideas of what to make, I once again kind of created my own dish, I guess I will call it Baked Grilled Eggplant with Vegan Tofu Ricotta and Tomato Sauce. Whew, that’s a bit of a windy title, no? But who cares about the title because this dish was delizioso!!! Served alongside some sauteed pearl onion, this fit my idea of a lovely Italian meal. Authentic or not? I don’t really know, but hey, I’ll find out in two weeks when I’m in the glorious country itself!
I ever so slightly adapted this tofu ricotta recipe by swapping the tahini for plain hummus and it was delectable, in fact I ate a lot of it by spoon before I could even put my dish together! I actually had never though of using hummus in place of tahini before, but now that I have I am thrilled. Tahini is a part of many recipes, but usually just in small amounts. Due to the cost of tahini, and the fact that the amount needed is mimimal, I rarely buy it and usually end up leaving it out altogether, which always leaves out the true full flavor. I loved my hummus substitute thought, with it’s similar texture and taste (kind of) it worked perfectly and since hummus is something that is always in my fridge, tutti i giorni!, it is always accessible! I can’t wait to make it again to put in other recipes, I’m already dreaming up a recipe to resemble the homemade ricotta filled ravioli I made in seventh grade, only now with a health/animal/environment friendly version!
An after thought to this recipe was using homemade tomato sauce, I think the flavors would meld even more delectably, so try it out!
Baked Grilled Eggplant with Vegan Tofu Ricotta and Tomato Sauce
2 large purple eggplants, cut into vertical slices
olive oil for brushing
one 15 oz. can of tomato sauce or 15 0z. homemade tomato sauce
one recipe of tofu ricotta (recipe to follow)
-preheat oven to 350˚
1. With a pastry brush, brush the eggplant slices so they are lightly covered in olive oil.
2. Grill on each side until they are soft with nice grill marks.
3. Layer half the slices in a medium sized glass baking dish, top with half of the tofu ricotta, half the tomato sauce and then repeat with the other half of the ingredients.
4. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes.
Tofu Ricotta Cheese (adapted from this recipe)
1 block extra firm tofu
2 Tablespoons plain hummus
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Crumble tofu into a large bowl.
2. Add all other ingredients and mix with spoon or hands until well incorporated.