I love vegetables. There, I said it. Phew! Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I can feel free to experiment to my heart’s content with veggies. Actually, I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen for quite some time. There was a time, however, when vegetables were my arch nemesis. If anything green, yellow or orange were to appear on my plate and it wasn’t fruit or candy, it would be summarily dismissed. As a child, I would stuff the pockets of my robe with napkins filled with the discarded carcasses of unwanted boiled Brussels sprouts or broccoli. My sister Wanda and I would actually fall asleep draped across one another at the kitchen table, or push green peas around on our plates for hours, all in a attempt to avoid eating those dreaded vegetables. Luckily, those days are no more. Now, not only do I eat my vegetables, I willingly and in the absence of duress find creative ways to prepare them. So each week, when Meatless Monday pops up, I am more surprised than anyone at what will come out of my kitchen.
This week’s Meatless Monday recipe is a hodgepodge of ingredients that I love, and love together. Initially, I had plans on stuffing an eggplant, but quickly became bored with the idea. As I stood in my kitchen, gazing out the greenhouse window, I ruminated on what else I could conjure up with an eggplant, an onion, a red bell pepper and a few other staples that I usually keep stocked in my kitchen. It didn’t take long for the Voila! moment to hit me, and when it did, I knew I was on to something. The end result was what I have dubbed Eggplant Veggie Rounds. Bon appetit.
Eggplant Veggie Rounds
- 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, thin sliced
- 1 small red bell pepper, thin sliced
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 6 ozs. baby spinach, stems removed
- Your favorite seasoning (I used McCormick Spiced Mediterranean Sea Salt)
- 1 medium eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 3 plum tomatoes, medium sliced
- 1 c. grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400°
In a large skillet heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil, then add onions and peppers. Season and allow to cook until just tender, about 6-7 minutes. Next, add garlic and mix in well with onions and peppers. Add spinach and mix in well, allowing to cook until just wilted. Remove from heat.
While vegetables are cooking, place sliced eggplant in a bowl and rub remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil over them. Season eggplant.
Spray nonstick cooking spray in a large baking pan. Lay eggplant rounds in pan side by side. Top each round with two slices. Note: I opted to keep one slice intact and slice the second slice in half for ease of placement (see picture below).
Next, spoon equal amounts of vegetable mixture on top of rounds. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Remove from oven and top each round with parmesan cheese. Return to oven just long enough for cheese to melt.