Baked chickpea pasta with eggplant

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When my favorite mom-friend texted me last night, I could tell in her tone that she was totally fried. Managing a threenager and a four-month-old while breastfeeding and working takes a major toll. I just know she is not taking care of herself, and that includes eating well.

I am juggling a threenager myself which does not lend itself to tons of time to make homemade casseroles for myself, let alone friends. Knowing girlfriend needs some veggies and protein, I threw together this super-simple pasta bake. It is a simple recipe, but for someone juggling as much as she is, even boiling water to make pasta is a huge undertaking. Using the sample box of Banza chickpea pasta that they graciously sent me, I don’t even have to worry about adding a protein source since this pasta provides 14 gm of plant-based protein per serving. The spinach provides some folate and extra vitamins, and the mushrooms I choose are source of Vitamin D.

ALL of my clients should be sneaking in veggies, and this is a simple way to get a good amount in. I have two versions of this recipe: the homemade way and the shortcut way (guess which one I chose).

RECIPE 1-”from scratch”

Ingredients:

One loaf pan, greased with olive oil

6 Tbsp olive oil + additional 3 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup chopped fresh spinach-washed and dry

1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms-washed and dry

1 14-oz can chopped plum tomatoes, drained

salt/pepper to taste

2 eggplants of your choice, sliced 1/4 in thick and washed

1 egg-lightly beaten

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup finely milled flax seeds

One 8 oz box banza pasta (shape of your choice)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute garlic, spinach, and mushrooms about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cook on low for 30 minutes.

Combine breadcrumbs and flax seeds. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in frying pan on medium heat. Dip eggplant slice (one at a time) in beaten egg, and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Cook until golden (about three minutes each) and then transfer onto paper towel.

Boil 8 cups water and add box of Banza. Cook for only 4 minutes (will taste undercooked), strain water, and rinse pasta with cool water.

Line bottom and sides of loaf pan with the eggplant. Mix sauce/veggie combine with pasta and pour on top of eggplant. Bake for 20 minutes. Once cooked and slightly cool, invert the pan onto a plate and take out of loaf pan. Slice and enjoy!

RECIPE 2-”shortcut recipe”

Ingredients:

One loaf pan, greased with olive oil

1.5 cup jarred pasta of choice

1 cup chopped fresh spinach-washed and dry

1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms-washed and dry

salt/pepper to taste

1 box Frozen eggplant cutlets (Trader Joe’s is my go-to)

8 oz box Banza pasta

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine pasta sauce, spinach, and mushrooms and simmer for 20 minutes.

Microwave eggplant cutlets for 2 minutes.

Boil 8 cups water and add box of Banza. Cook for only 4 minutes (will taste undercooked), strain water, and rinse pasta with cool water.

Line bottom and sides of loaf pan with the eggplant. Mix sauce/veggie combine with pasta and pour on top of eggplant. Bake for 20 minutes. Once cooked and slightly cool, invert the pan onto a plate and take out of loaf pan. Slice and enjoy!

Either way, this is a simple dish that is easy to transport to friends or make-ahead if you know you are going to have a crazy weeknight and don’t want to end up eating your kid’s leftover chicken nuggets for the third night in a row.

Lauren ManakerComment