Relucantly “Falling” Forward with roasted butternut squash soup and stuffed eggplant

I am a summer baby, so I hate when my season of warmth comes to an end. Some times it comes softly, like a kiss. You notice the days are getting shorter and it is taking longer for the sun to come up in the morning. It is chilly when you leave to go to work, school or for your morning run. The calendar gets dangerously closer to October. Sigh* It’s fall.  In order to make myself feel better about the impending coldness, I decided to recreate this fabulous meal I had over a classmate’s house last Tuesday.

B and I brought the prosecco and red wine and L and R supplied yummy vegetarian goodness! On the menu was butternut squash soup and eggplant stuffed with rice. It was so good!!!!!!!!  Over dinner L told us how she came up with the dishes and what she put in them. I immediately started to think in my head ways to modify the dish to make it even healthier.

First I must say that I consider myself a butternut squash soup pro. I have made it several times for the past three years in the fall and the winter. Although I never made it before with apple like L had. Prior to assembling the soup, I love to roast the squash to bring out the flavor and I usually save the seeds and roast them later to use as toppings.  I also did so with the honey crisp apple I got from the  farmer’s market. After that, I followed the recipe to a tee (except I used canola oil to saute the onion and carrot instead of butter). Then I topped it with the roasted seeds and a dollop of plain greek yogurt. Yum. If you want the recipe, click here.

Now on to the eggplant goodness. I must warn you that this is a recipe of my own making, so if you are confused about any of the steps let me know.
Here’s the result:

I thought about L’s dish and what I could do to make it even more nutritious, so you can get more bang for your buck.  First I thought about what would go together. Randomly, quinoa, kale, and tomato popped in my mind. I thought about scooping out the eggplant inside and then sauteing that with tomato, the kale, onion, garlic and a dash of salt. Then I tossed that with some blended tomatoes and goat cheese and then filled the hallowed eggplant back with the mixture and then roasted in the oven at 350 F for about 30 minutes until the eggplant was cooked though.

What you need:

1 large eggplant

1/2 large yellow onion

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 cloves garlic

1 pint of grape tomatoes

One bunch of red Kale (or your kale of choice)

1 cup cooked quinoa (follow package instructions–also it will taste better if you cook it in vegetable broth)

1/2 cup goat cheese

Here’s some ordered steps:

1. Cut the eggplant in half and rub salt on the exposed white flesh and then sit in a colander inside a bowl for about 30 minutes. This is an important step because it removes the bitterness out of the eggplant. You will know the salt has done its job when you see liquid in the bowl. You can do this the night before as well.

2. While the eggplant is sweating out its bitterness, rinse off the tomatoes and blend them in a blender. Also chop the onion, garlic and kale up and set aside.

3. Once the eggplant has sufficiently sweated, rinse off the salt and then hallow it out by removing alot of the white flesh. However, make sure you leave enough where it will retain its shape.

4. Take the eggplant flesh you removed and chop it up. Place it in a wok or large frying pan that has been heated with the 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the tomato and onion and cook all three until they are softened (about 5 to 10 minutes). Then add the kale and cook until it wilts. Finally add the one cup of cooked quinoa and mix.

5. Once everything is mixed and cooked, remove from the wok and then place into a bowl. Take about 1 cup of the blended tomato mix into the quinoa. Then add about 1/2 cup of goat cheese. Stir

6. Add the mixture back to the hallowed eggplant and then place onto a cookie sheet and stick into the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 F.

Here’s mine coming out of the oven:

7. While the stuffed eggplant is roasting, take the rest of the blended tomato and heat it in a small pan.

8. When the eggplant is done, remove it from the oven and cut each half in half (so you have 1/4 pieces). Top with the heated tomato and then sprinkle some goat cheese on top.

Serve while hot.

This was fabulous! And I will definitely make this again!  Please leave a comment if you have any questions or if my instructions weren’t clear or just to say hi:)  Happy cooking:) xo Cosmo

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