Pasta is a delicious but high-calorie dish that is not included on the list of approved foods in the 21-Day Weight Loss Breakthrough Diet. Chef Rocco DiSpirito came up with a solution that is just as delicious as pasta, without the added calories and with added nutrients. His eggplant roll-ups are quick and easy to make and can be made in bulk for meal prep.
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup diced red bell peppers
- 1 10 oz bag washed spinach
- 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp chopped garlic
- crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
- 3 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, soaked overnight in enough water to cover
- 1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
1. Preheat the grill and the oven to 350°F.
2. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with the cooking spray, and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell peppers to the hot skillet and cook until soft, three to five minutes.
3. Add the spinach and cook until wilted and the water has evaporated. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside. Spray the skillet again and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until a deep golden brown. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and half the basil leaves and sauté just long enough to wilt basil. Add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture reaches a thick sauce consistency, three to five minutes.
4. Spray the eggplant slices with cooking spray and season with salt. Grill the eggplant on each side until lightly charred, about one minute per side. Add 1/2 cup of sauce to the bowl with the vegetables, season with salt and red pepper flakes, and mix well.
5. Place the eggplant slices on a clean work surface, making four overlapping, 5-inch wide by 10-inch long rectangles. Place an even amount of the vegetables and some of the remaining fresh basil leaves on each rectangle and roll up. Place the rolls on top of the remaining sauce in the skillet and spoon some of the sauce over each roll. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes.
6. Place the almonds in a blender with just enough of the soaking water to blend them and process on high until it's a thick an smooth ricotta-like texture, about one minute. Remove from the blender and place in a small bowl, add the cheese, and season with salt. Pool a litle sauce from the skillet on each of four plates. place 1 roll on top, and top each roll with the almond mixture.
1. Add one teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the almond mixture for more tang.
2. Remove the cheese from the recipe to create a vegan dish.
Recipe from The Negative Calorie Diet, by Rocco DiSpirito
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This recipe was recently featured in The 21-Day Weight Loss Breakthrough.