Monday, November 30, 2009

Eggplant Roulades with Mushroom, Spinach and Rutabaga Risotto over Lentils

This was dinner on Sunday night, and you can't see it this photo, but the eggplant rolls are sitting on a bed of Puy lentils...the rice sort of covered them up.

Puy lentils are my favorite kind of lentil, they may take slightly longer to cook than green lentils, but they hold their shape and cook up so nicely into stew, and they are very tasty and satisfying.

For the lentils, I didn't write down exactly what I did at the time...but suffice it to say that I sauteed some celery, onion, garlic with a bay leaf and some oregano in some olive oil. Then, I tossed in some tomato paste, and let it brown a bit. When all this had cooked up into a nice base, I added the lentils, several cups of water & veggie stock, parsley, salt and pepper and let it simmer until cooked...a splash of red wine near the end adds a nice dimension. Here's a similar rendition I posted a while back.

You can see the lentils in this shot:

For the rice, I made it risotto-style, rather than a pure risotto. I didn't have any arborio rice, so I used paella rice instead. (I called it risotto in the title because it just sounds so fancy and yummy.) I'm convinced most short grain rice would work. Ideally, I would have used short grain brown rice, but was out of that as well. Again, no real recipe, but that's ok, this is really more of a guide or idea.

I wanted a really savory, earthy flavor from the rice, so I began by sauteing 1 medium rutabaga that was chopped into 1/2-inch chunks, then added 1 finely chopped onion, and 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic. When the rutabaga, onion, and garlic were all getting tender, I tossed in about 2 cups of medium-chopped crimini mushrooms and let it all saute for another minute. Then, I tossed in a generous cup of dry paella rice, stirred it through the mixture, and added 1 cup of dry white wine and 1 cup of water and let it come to a simmer.

As the rice cooked down, I added warm mushroom stock in 1/2 cup increments. I didn't stir it constantly, but rather added liquid, stirred, let it cook down, then added more liquid, stirred, and let it cook down, etc., until the rice was al dente...paella rice works nicely this way at any rate. Towards the end, I added 2 generous handfuls of julienned raw spinach. The whole rice process took about 30 minutes.

While the rice and lentils cooked, I oven-roasted some thinly sliced eggplant. To put it together, I rolled some rice into each eggplant slice, set them on a bed of lentils and more rice and sprinkled with more fresh spinach.

All in all, it was a hearty dinner with a satisfying panorama of autumn flavors and toothy textures. To finish it off, a lovely balsamic reduction would have been lovely, but somehow, that part didn't happen in this instance. It was delicious nonetheless.

And on a completely different note, meet Francine. Here she is playing in a tomato plant that is still lingering on my sun porch. To me, she looks like she's saying in her best New York accent:  "Hey, what's the big idea?":

Francine is the cat we're fostering from our local animal shelter. She's recovering from an upper respiratory infection and staying with us until she's infection-free. She's pretty you can see her playfulness and energy are in good form.

Francine is energetic, fun, mischievous, and such a snuggle-bunny. After playing in the tomato tree, she then proceeded to nap in a pot. I wanted to get a shot of her napping, but of course she had to wake up when I came up to snap the photo:


  1. Dinner on Sunday sounds wonderful. I love the presentation.

    You cook your risotto the same way I do. I have no desire to stand in the kitchen and stir the entre time either. I would rather sit nearby and sip tea, or prep a different dish.

    Francine is so adorable. I love her expressive little face. She is such a cutie pie.


  2. Thanks Alicia,

    It means a lot to converge with you on the risotto front...even if this wasn't real risotto...paella is sort of risotto Spanish-style.

  3. I would love to see your take on paella sometime. When I make it I add a lot of chunky veggies, salty brined artichokes and sometimes beans to the short grain rice with saffron and tomatoes. Is your version anything like that? Since you lived in Spain you would be the expert on this one.


  4. Your version sounds pretty much like the typical Valencia-style paella (sans rabbit and chicken).

    From what I've seen, paella typically includes red pepper,and often peas, and is topped with olives and/or boiled egg, served with lemon wedge.

    I always get a hankering for it in spring, when asparagus is in season, so I often make it with aparagus, red peppers, and peas.

  5. Aww! Francine is adorable. That's awesome that you're taking care of her so well!

    And that eggplant/rice dish looks terrific... yummy!

  6. Thanks Bonnie! Francine is a cutie, she recovered from her infection and has already been adopted to her forever home.


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