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.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread

Fromage Fort is a French Cheese Spread consisting of leftover cheeses blended together with wine.  The flavor of the different cheeses blends together and becomes stronger over time.  I used Reggiano Parmesan, Asiago and Pecorino Romano because that is what I had on hand.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread My friend Leif is a wood working artisan who creates beautiful hand crafted pieces like the amazing cheese board in these photos.  I had planned on redoing the photos of a cheese board post I did a few years back.  I recently saw a picture of an amazing cheese board that Leif posted on Instagram and decided that this would be a great opportunity for both of us.  I asked him if I could use his cheese board in my photo shoot and that he could use the photos as well.  He said of course and we were both very stoked!

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread The photos turned out great but when Leif saw them he said, “Where’s my board?”  Haha, I had it buried under all the food.  Woops!  So I told him that I would do another photo shoot to showcase his beautiful board properly.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread A few days later I met up with a couple of friends at the farmer’s market.  We were talking about cheese and one of them had mentioned Fromage Fort.  I hadn’t heard of it before and she explained that you take all your leftover cheese to make a whipped dip out of them.  Right then, I immediately knew what I was going to make for my reshoot of Leif’s cheese board.  I looked around the web for inspiration and found Jacque Pepin’s recipe and adapted my recipe from his.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread You can serve this spread with a variety of wines like a Soave, Pinto Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, White Rioja or a Sancerre for a white or a Pinot Noir, Tempranillo or a Red Rioja for a red.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread Fromage Fort Cheese Spread Recipe:

Approx. 2 Cups

  • 1/2 Cup Reggiano Parmesan – finely shredded and packed
  • 1/2 Cup Asiago – finely shredded and packed
  • 1/2 Cup Pecorino Romano – finely shredded and packed
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand which has strong notes of grapefruit)
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • Dash Black Pepper
Milder Variation
  • Add in 4 oz. Chevre Cheese
Spicy Maple Pecan
  • 2 Cups Raw Pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Other additions options:
  • Crostini or French Bread
  • Pears – sliced
  • Quince Jam
  • Olives – your choice
  • Manchego Cheese Wedge
Garnish
  • Sprigs of Rosemary
Instructions:
Fromage Fort

Finely shred the three kinds of cheese, measure and add to a food processor along with the wine, olive oil, garlic and pepper.  Puree until creamy.

Pecans

Add everything to a cast iron or a saute pan and turn the on stove onto medium heat.

As soon as it starts to bubble, stir continuously.

In about 3 – 6 minutes they will start to get sticky.  When the moisture is ALL gone, turn off the heat.
Spread onto parchment paper or a baking sheet.  Don’t worry about them sticking together, when cooled you can separate them.  Wait until they are completely cooled.
Assemble

Arrange everything on a wood board or platter except the cheese spread and jam.  Serve the spread and jam in small bowls.

Fromage Fort Cheese Spread

 

 

North Fattoria Italiana

“Fattoria means farm in Italian – a place where food is handcrafted and sold.  It conjures up visions of a rustic farmhouse, offering locals hand-made offerings – anything from wine to olive oil – made with love on premise”.

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“Created by Chef Chris Curtiss, pizza and pasta dough is made from scratch, all day long, for every guest.  With a great space, great food and a great vibe”…

North1                                                     Gigli Pasta at North

Great neighborhood Italian, house made pasta, great wine, a casual kid friendly environment, and the food was GREAT!!!

We started out with the Castelvatrano olives (my kids & I LOVE olives) and house made focaccia bread; I had a glass of the Dryland’s Sauvignon Blanc straight from Marlborough, NZ. I wanted to try something Italian but I can’t do the dry whites!  Next we shared the Casa Insalate, which were great, simple greens with roasted garlic dressing, grand padano and grilled bread. Similar to a Caesar without the anchovy taste! For my main course I had the Gigli pasta– house made pesto, pine nuts, crispy capers and freshly shaved grana padano …yummmmm!!!!!! I had to have a red wine with my pasta so I chose the Valpolicella-Masi Bonacosta-Veneto it went great with the pasta!

                                North The boys had the kids Spaghetti & Meatballs

You think by this time we would have stopped but we were all having a sweet tooth! Last but not least the ………..

North2 Salted Caramel Budino

Location:  NORTH Arcadia 4925 N 40th St. Phoenix, Arizona 85018 Tel. 602.324.5600