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.

Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart with a Buckwheat Almond Crust

This Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart is so insanely good!  The crust is super flaky, buttery and nutty.  The roasted fennel compliments the potatoes and Gruyere splendidly.  I could eat this for a week straight! Oh wait, I actually did!

Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart I don’t know why, but this tart reminds me of when my friend Tanya and I use to frequent a cool little cafe on the Venice boardwalk called Figtree’s Cafe and Grill.  We would order cappuccinos and sometimes a pastry and we would imagine that we were in France or Italy.  We didn’t just imagine, we would really try and visualize what it would feel like to actually be there.  We would do this often and after we finished our cappuccinos, we would wander down to Small World Books bookstore to look through travel guides plotting our adventures as if we had the means.  After about six months of doing this, we both ended up traveling, not together but at least our dreams were coming true.  She became a part of a seven-person crew on a sailboat that sailed to the tip of Mexico and back.  She also traveled all through Europe.  I ended up traveling in Southeast Asia, Europe and New Zealand.  When I look back, I realize that this was the first time I had practiced the law of attraction.

Tanya and I met back up in Maui a year later, but that’s a story for another time.  She has since lived in England where she reconnected with her childhood friend Peter and ended up marrying him and now they have three beautiful children.  They later moved to Singapore and lived there for 10 years and recently they moved to the polar opposite Switzerland!  Tanya is one of my most favorite people on the planet and she is an amazing photographer.   She flew all the way from Switzerland to attend my wedding and also took some amazing wedding photos.  I still can’t believe it!  You can see a few of our wedding photos on the post she wrote about us on her very impressive blog, Tanya Moss Photography.

Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart This tart is great with a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, White Rioja or a Sauvignon Blanc.

Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart
Recipe: 6 – 8 servings
  • 1 Recipe Almond Buckwheat Crust – recipe below
  • 1 Fennel Bulb – cut in half – sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch
  • Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Pound Yukon Gold Potatoes – sliced rounds about 1/8th inch
  • 1 1/2 Cups (6 ounces) Gruyere Cheese – shredded – divided
  • 1 Cup Pecorino Cheese – finely shredded – divided
  • 8 oz. Creme Fraiche
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary – minced
Dough
  • 3/4 Cup Ground Almonds
  • 1 Cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Salted Butter – cold
  • About 2 Tablespoon Ice Water or until it sticks together (don’t over do it)
Instructions:
Dough

In a food processor, grind the almonds into small crumb size.

Add flour and salt In the food processor, pulse several times to combine.

And 1/4 inch piece of butter.

 Pulse a few times to evenly break up the butter then add ice water slowly as you pulse, until it resembles a coarse meal with tiny pieces of butter.  It will be crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers, do not over process.

Empty the dough into a 10″ tart pan.  Press the dough with your fingers into the tart pan.  It takes a bit to get it even over the bottom of the tart pan and up the sides.  Poke holes in the bottom with a fork and place the crust into the refrigerator for 30 minute.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

Put a piece of parchment paper over the tart and fill with pastry beads or dried beans and bake for 10 minutes.  Take the beads out of the tart and bake for 10 more minutes.

While dough is in the refrigerator roast the Fennel.

Fennel

375 Degrees

Cut the fennel in half and cut out the core.  Cut each half horizontally into 1/4 -inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  Toss to evenly coat. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes or until soft and golden.  Set aside.

Potatoes

Slice potatoes into thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick).  Add potatoes to a pot and cover with water then bring to a boil, continue to boil for 2 minutes.  Make sure and keep an eye on them.

Drain potatoes in a colander, rinse with cold water.  Set aside.
Cheese and Creme Fraiche
In a small pan, mix together the 1 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyere, the 1 cup of pecorino cheese, creme fraiche, salt and pepper.  Melt together on medium low heat.
Assemble
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Sprinkle a 1/4 cup Gruyere over the crust.  Add a layer of potatoes, a little sauce (about a 1/4 of it), a 1/4 cup Gruyere and a 1/2 cup pecorino.  Repeat, then top with the remaining sauce, all the fennel (arrange in a circle) then top with remaining Gruyere.  Sprinkle with the minced rosemary.
Bake for 30 minutes on 375 degrees or until golden.
*
Health benefits

Buckwheat Flour is a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel.  It’s a great alternative grain for people who are sensitive to wheat glutens. It is high in insoluble fiber and is incredibly good for the heart, cholesterol and high blood pressure.  It’s great for diabetics as it it lowers blood sugars more slowly than rice or wheat.  It is awesome for the digestion and it helps to clean and strengthen the intestines.  Buckwheat contains more antioxidants that most other grains.

Fennel is a very good source of fiber that helps limit cholesterol build-up and helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood.  The fiber also helps remove carcinogens from the colon and it can eliminate constipation.  It contains the phytonutrient anethole, the main part of its volatile oil that has been shown to reduce inflammation and also helping prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is helpful for eye inflammation, and reduces premature aging and macular degeneration.  There are high levels of potassium in the fennel bulbs and seeds and can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities and it also increases the reach of oxygen to the brain.  The fronds above the fennel bulbs contain important vitamins, like pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.