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
  • 1 Eggplant – peeled – cut 1/4 to 1/2 slices


  • 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

 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.

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.


 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.

Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad with Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad is beautiful, colorful and healthy with a great mix of flavors and textures!  There is bountiful crunch from the crispy lentils, almonds and kale and dreamy softness form the mozzarella and tomatoes.  It has a spectrum of flavors from the basil, almonds and the slightly spicy.  It’s just an all around great salad!

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

I am so excited right now!  Robby bought an old 68 blue Schwinn 3 speed bike to ride when I ride my rusty red 79 Schwinn 10 speed bike.  I didn’t have any extra money to spend on a bike when I first moved back to Venice beach in 2007.  (you can read about my leap of faith move here) You really need a bike when you live in Venice if you don’t want to go insane with all the traffic and circling the neighborhood for 15 minutes to 45 minutes looking for a parking space.  One day, my friends Beto and Brian called me and told me they had a surprise for me.  The surprise turned out to be a beat up rusty old red Schwinn bike they found in the alley.  They brought the bike to a bike shop that fixed it up just enough to make it rideable.  Actually, this was the best present ever!  I rode it every day.  I rode it to work and after work, I would go down to the boardwalk to ride it from my apartment on Rose Ave. to Temescal Canyon Blvd and back while the sun was setting.  I especially loved that it was rusty and somewhat trashed because I could lock it up almost anywhere without having to worry about it getting stolen.  I would ride it to my friends’ houses, the health food store, to the pier every Thursday night for the Twilight concert series and to parties.  It was perfect!

When I moved to Santa Cruz, Robby and I rode his mountain bikes a few times but we really just wanted to cruise around on comfortable bikes.  My poor red bike hadn’t been ridden in 5 years.  Lucky for me, Robby is now on a mission to fix up both of our old Schwinns.  He bought vintage handlebars, stem, seat, fenders, front wheel, a little round reflector for the rear fender, brake pads, brake cables, etc.  He cleaned years of grime and dirt off of both of them as well as a complete overhaul to make them ride better than new.  There is still a little rust on the frame of my bike just to remind me of the great times I had with it in Venice.  We wanted them to look vintage so we chose not to completely restore them which we think gives them more character.  I cannot wait to go for a ride on our new old bikes.

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

This salad goes great with a Chianti, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir or a Grenache for a red or a Pinot Gris, Soave  or Sauvignon Blanc for a white.

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad
Recipe: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 Cup Crispy Black Lentils – roasted – recipe below
  • 1 Recipe Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette – recipe below
  • 1 1/2 Cups Tomato Basil Almonds – recipe below
  • 1 Head Dino Kale about 7 cups – washed – deribbed – thinly chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes  – wedged or diced
  • 1 Container Small Fresh Mozzarella – thinly sliced or quartered
  • 1/4 Red Onion – thinly sliced or diced
  • 1  Cup Basil – packed – chiffonade
Tomato Basil Almonds – whole recipe
  • 1 1/2 Cups Raw Almonds
  • 1 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Sauce (Bionaturae strained tomatoes was the brand used here)
  • 1/3 Cup Basil – minced
  • 1 -2  Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Teaspoons Sea Salt
Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette
  • 1 Small or 2 Tablespoons Shallots – minced
  • 1 Small Garlic – minced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Arugula
  • 1 Serrano Pepper – optional
  • 1/4 Cup Champagne Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Pecorino – shredded
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Dash Black Pepper
Crispy Black Lentils
  • 1/2 Cup Black Lentils –  uncooked
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Tomato Basil Almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mince the garlic and basil add to a bowl, add the olive oil, almonds, tomato sauce and sea salt then mix well and spread evenly onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, stir halfway.

Let cool completely.  *While the almonds are cooking and cooling make the vinaigrette.

Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette
In a food processor, add everything except the minced shallots and garlic.  Puree then add to a jar with the shallots and garlic and shake well.

Turn the oven up to 400°F.

Measure the lentils and sort for any rocks then rinse.  Add water to the lentils, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes or until lentils are soft, yet still firm.  Strain and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl toss the lentils, oil and salt together then spread out on the parchment.

Roast lentils for 25 – 30 minutes, stir in between.  Roast until crunchy. Watch them closely at the end so they don’t burn.  Let cool.
The Rest
You can either mix the kale, tomatoes, mozzarella, onion and basil together and top individual salads with the almonds, lentils and dressing.
 Or, place the kale onto a large platter place the tomatoes all around and do the same with mozzarella, onion, lentils and basil and top individual salads with the almonds and dressing.
* To keep the almonds and lentils crunchy, you will want to add them at the end.
Health benefits:
Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which helps detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)    More on kale 
Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady stream of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, and is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years.