Eggplant Black Rice Parmesan

This Eggplant Black Rice Parmesan is a slight take on Italian eggplant Parmesan.  The combination of the black rice along with all the other ingredients is superb.  This is a hearty dish that I start off by brushing sliced eggplant with a shallot vinaigrette then roasting them under the broiler for a couple minutes.  This step not only adds flavor, it also helps ensure that the eggplant will stay firm and not become mushy.

 Eggplant Black Rice Parmesan The older I get, the more I appreciate my long time friends who are still in my life.  My friend Janelle is one such friend.  How we met is somewhat of a funny story.  Janelle and I met through our mutual friend Paulina.  I met Pauling when I was 8 years old living in Playa del Ray.  Janelle also lived in Playa del Rey at the time, however, we didn’t know each other back then.

Years later, Paulina asked me if I wanted to go to a party with her and her friend.  I enthusiastically said yes!  I was really excited because I was only 14 and had never been to a real party before.  As soon as Janelle and I met, we hit it off right away. We arrived at the party and proceeded to get drunk off of cheap wine.  This was also my first time getting drunk and it was the last time for a while.  Janelle’s mom and her friend picked us up after the party and unfortunately, the motion of the car made me dizzy and I threw up in the car.  I was mortified and I have yet to live that day down!  Janelle, her mom and her mom’s friend had an inside joke about that event where they would say “Stephie’s chunky style” and laugh.  I only found out about it some years later! Haha!

3U9A7232 Another couple of years would pass before I would see Janelle again.  I had enrolled myself into a school called S.M.A.S.H. (Santa Monica Alternative School House).  On my first day, I was in class and when I turned around, I saw her and I gave her a confused look because she looked familiar.  Later that day, I was in the bathroom when Janelle came in and she asked me in a mean voice “why the hell were you giving me dirty looks??” She was acting as though she was going to kick my ass.  The funny thing is, Janelle is not really the type of girl that would start a fight!  I told her that I wasn’t giving her dirty looks but that I recognized her and her whole demeanor instantly changed.  We figured out where we had met and we were instant best friends.  I treasure our friendship to this day.  She is one of the most loving, loyal, sweetest, will do anything for you kind of friend!!

This eggplant dish reminds me of a loyal old friend, as in it will comfort you and make you feel safe.

3U9A7282 copy This dish pairs nicely with a crisp glass of Soave or your favorite dry white wine.

3U9A7249 Eggplant Black Rice Parmesan Recipe:

6 – 8 servings

  • 1 Black Rice Recipe – recipe below
  • 1 Dressing Recipe – recipe below
  • 1 Eggplant – recipe below
  • 1 Bunch Basil
  • 2 Large Tomato – diced
  • 1 Container Fresh Mini Mozzarella Balls – quartered
  • 1 1/2 Cups Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Reggiano – finely shredded
 Black Rice
  • 1 Cup Forbidden Black Rice
  • 1 3/4 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Garlic Clove (Optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Eggplant
  • 1 Eggplant – peeled – cut 1/4 to 1/2 slices

Dressing

  • 1 Tablespoons Shallot – minced
  • 1 Small Garlic – minced
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt and Black Pepper
Instructions:
Rice

 In a small saucepan add the rice, water, garlic and salt.

Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer in-between medium-low and low for 30 – 40 minute.
Check at 30 minutes, if you still see a bit of liquid cook for 5 – 10 more minutes.  Or until water is gone.
Eggplant

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together for the dressing.

Peel and slice the eggplant about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Brush both sides of the slices with the dressing while laying them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Place under the broiler and broil for about 3 minutes then turn the slices over and broil for 1 to 2 more minutes.

Casserole

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees

While rice is cooking, slice the mozzarella ball into quarters and finely shred the pecorino.  Set aside.
Core tomatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes and when the rice is finished cooking, let cool then mix in the tomatoes.
Spread 1/3 of the rice/tomato mix on the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart (I used a 12.2″W x 7.48″D x 2.28″H) casserole dish.
Add a layer of basil leaves making sure to cover rice completely.
 Evenly sprinkle on a 1/3 of pecorino and spread out a 1/3 of the mozzarella balls with space in-between.
Repeat the steps above.
For the top layer, add another layer of pecorino and arrange the last 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Sprinkle a few of the tiniest basil leaves on the top.  (Optional)

 Bake on the middle rack for 30 – 40 minutes or until the cheese is slightly golden.

3U9A7297 Health benefits:
Black rice contains a high amount of anthocyanin like blood oranges.  The research has found that just a spoonful of black rice coating “bran” has more anthocyanin antioxidants than in a spoonful of blueberries, less sugar, more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants.  It is valuable for reducing inflammation and for its anti-aging properties. It is also for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer and helps protect the nervous system from degeneration.

Black Rice Caprese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers with a Basil Sauce

These Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers are simply divine.  The peppers are lightly roasted before filling them with hearty black rice and they are topped with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pecorino and fresh basil.  The combination is intoxicating, especially after they are drizzled with a lovely fresh basil sauce.  These are perfect as a main entree or as a side dish.

3u9a5304 Last night I wanted to watch a certain show but I couldn’t remember the name of it for the life of me.  I searched my whole list on Netflix, but I couldn’t find it.  I was a bit frustrated because I wanted something funny to watch but I thought to myself, “just let it go!”   I noticed that I had way too many shows on my watch list, so I decided that I should delete some!  As soon as I deleted the first show, the show I wanted to find so badly popped up right in front of my eyes.  It was the show called “New Girl”.

These kinds of things seem to happen to me all the time.  Have you ever experienced anything like this before? Here is another example.

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers Many years ago, my mom and I were traveling in Greece with her boyfriend at the time.  He wanted to be alone with my mom and wanted me to go travel on my own.  At first, I was like, what?  There is no way that I’m traveling alone!  But then I remembered that my close friend Maggie was going to school in London.  We had talked about me coming to visit her but we had never made any real plans.  There were no cell phones at the time but I knew that spring break was coming up and she planned to travel around Europe during her break.  I tried to get ahold of her but I wasn’t able to so I just decided to go for it and flew from Greece to London in hopes that I would be able to find her.

So when I got off the plane, I asked someone which bus to take to get me to her school and headed on my way to hopefully meet up with her.  The bus stop was about 5 blocks from her school so I had to walk the rest of the way.  I had a large travel pack on my back with a small backpack in the front and a heavy medium-large duffle bag that I was holding on my forearms in front of me.  It was pretty crazy!

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers I finally arrived at Maggie’s school and asked the guy at the front desk where her dorm was.  Well, I found out that she was living off campus in an apartment.  They had no idea where she lived and I was devastated!  I went over to a nearby couch and sat down and racked my brain on what was I going to do now.

A few minutes had passed and a girl looked at me and said, “are you Maggie’s friend Stephanie”?  My eyes opened up wide and my jaw dropped.  I said, “how in the heck did you know it was me?” she said “well, you guys look and dress alike and both of you wear tons of jewelry.  She introduced herself, “Hi I’m Kate, Maggie’s roommate”. You can’t imagine my relief and disbelief.  Kate then said, “come with me and I’ll bring you to Maggie”.  She was literally just down the hall from where I was sitting.

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers I opened the door and popped my head in and just stared at her until she finally looked up.  When she looked up, the look on her face was priceless.  We went back over to the couch that I was previously sitting on and I started to give her the presents that I had bought for her on my travels in Asia.  I handed her the first one and she loved it.  At first, I acted as if that was it but then I pulled out another gift.  I did this about 10 times.  I had so much fun with it and Maggie was very stoked, to say the least.

I have been intrigued by situations like this my whole life.  Life can sometimes be scary but if let go of the outcome, amazing things can happen.

*

These little gems go great with a Pinot Gris, Suave or a Prosecco.

Black Rice Caprese Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers served with a fresh Basil Oil and white wine. Photographed frop top view on a dark blue background. Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers Recipe:
  • 5 Small to Medium Red Bell Peppers – roasted – deseeded – cut in half
  • Black Rice – recipe below
  • 10 Large Leaves of Fresh Basil – roughly torn
  • 1 Container Small Fresh Mozzarella Balls – quartered
  • 10 Cherry Tomatoes – quartered
  • 1 Cup Pecorino Romano – finely grated – or to taste
  • Basil Sauce – recipe below
Rice
  • 1/2 Cup Forbidden Black Rice
  • 3/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Filtered Water
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove (Optional)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste
Basil Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Cup Basil
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pink Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt – or to taste

Garnish

  • Basil Sauce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil

*I adapted this recipe from my Black Rice Caprese Casserole

Instructions:
Rice

Measure rice and water and put into a small saucepan preferably with a glass lid.

Add the garlic and salt then cover and bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to simmer in-between medium-low and low for 30 – 40 minutes.  Check at 30 minutes, if you still see a bit of liquid cook for 5 – 10 more minutes.  Or until water is gone.
Peppers

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise making sure to cut through the stems to leave them attached.  Remove the seeds and sprinkle the insides with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Place the peppers cut-side down and bake for 10 minutes on the upper third rack then move to top rack for 10 more minutes.  Turn the peppers over to let the steam out and cool a bit.

Basil Sauce

Place the basil, oil and salt into a food processor or blender and puree.

Assemble

Place the peppers in a baking dish and fill them with about a tablespoon of the rice then place a basil leaf or two on top.  Add a little more rice then top with one tomato that has been quartered and a mozzarella ball that has also been quartered.  Push the tomatoes and mozzarella in as best you can. Top with the pecorino and place a quarter of a mozzarella ball on top.  Bake until the cheese is melted.  About 15 – 20 minutes.

Stuffed Roasted Red Peppers Health benefits:

Red Bell Peppers are matured green bell peppers and have more nutrition as they mature.  They are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Fresh Basil has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  The herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is rich in zeaxanthin an anti-oxidant that helps protect age-related macular disease.  It has a good amount of Iron and also helps to detoxify the liver.  It contains phytochemicals that may lower cortisol, a hormone secreted when you’re stressed that causes weight gain, so add some fresh basil to your water or tea.