Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Eggplant Involtini with Basil Cashew Cheese & Fennel Tomato Ragout

This recipe for basil cheese is thick and would work great in anything that you would want to spread a nice cheese-like filling on to; pizza, pannini's, lasagna or even a dip for pita or crackers. Prepare the sauce while the cashews are soaking and the eggplant slices are being salted and this dish comes together in no time flat. Cooking the eggplant ahead of time not only allows you to roll up these involtini but creates an immensely creamy texture that requires no knife to cut through with while you eat.

Thin rolls of roasted eggplant stuffed with a fresh basil cashew cheese filling and slow simmered in tomato and fennel ragout.

Basil Cashew Cheese
1 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 30 minutes to overnight)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbl dijon mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup vegetable broth
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Blend the cashews in a food processor for 2-3 minutes until they are somewhat smooth. Add the basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, mustard, onion powder, salt and pepper. Blend 2-3 more minutes until smooth. Add the broth and lemon juice. Blend 1-2 minutes more. Stir in the panko and taste to season with more salt and pepper.

Tomato Fennel Ragout
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb, cored, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 basil leaves
2 tbl red wine, broth or water
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
1/4 cup vegetable broth

Saute the fennel and onion in olive oil until soft and caramelized, 10 minutes. Add the garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and basil leaves, cook 3 minutes more. Deglaze the pot with red wine. Add the crushed tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.

Eggplant Involtini
serves 3
2 eggplants (try to pick ones that are long, rather than fat)
sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Basil Cashew Cheese

Cut the eggplants (skin on) into 1/4" thick slices. Sprinkle each slice with salt on both sides and let sit for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425.
After the slices have released some of their moisture, wipe dry and cook in batches with a little olive oil until both sides are soft and slightly golden, about 3 minutes per side.
Drain on a paper towel. Once cool enough to handle, place 2-3 tbl of basil cheese filling at each end.
Pour all of the ragout in the same saute pan you cooked the eggplant in (as long as it is oven proof) or in a casserole dish. Roll up each eggplant slice and place seam side down in the sauce.
Cook for 25 minutes then broil for a couple minutes to gently char the tops.

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