Tonight was the annual EEB (Ecology & Evolutionary Bio) holiday party. It was held in the Natural History Museum here at UM, and it was pretty snazzy. All the tables were set up in a wing of the museum, so we got to eat, sing, and be merry while surrounded by tons of prehistoric fossils. Pretty damn nifty. Sadly, I have no pictures; I left my camera charger in Pittsburgh when I went to visit a friend, and I won't get it back until Christmas.
The evening was a potluck, and I made two dishes (one of my friends was in the lab all day and couldn't cook, so I made a dish for her too). I promised April that I'd post the recipes if they turned out well. Fortunately for all of you, both my dishes were great, so the recipes will be after the cut. I made a baked eggplant Parmesan (no breading nor frying), and I also made pasta shells stuffed with spinach and cheese.
* 2 large eggplants, sliced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
* Olive oil
* 3 tablespoons dried oregano
* Salt and pepper to taste
* 1 pound fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped
* 4 large cloves garlic, minced
* 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
* Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with some of the oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Place on baking sheet in single layers and place about 6 inches under hot broiler. Broil on one side until browned and tender. (If the eggplants gets too brown before getting tender, flip the slices to brown the other side. However, browning of both sides is not necessary.) Brown the remaining slices in the same manner.
When the eggplant is done, preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch casserole dish with olive oil or olive oil spray. Spread just enough of the tomatoes in the bottom to cover lightly (this will prevent the bottom layer of eggplant from burning). Add a single layer of the eggplant slices. Top with a light layer of tomatoes. Sprinkle with some of the minced garlic and a little more oregano. Top with some of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Continue the process, ending with Parmesan cheese on top. (Each layer of tomatoes should be sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, unless you are using canned tomatoes with salt.) Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes if more browning is desired. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature.
Spinach Cheese Manicotti (I made stuffed shells because I couldn't find manicotti at the grocery store for some weird reason. Also, I added in a second thing of ricotta, since the shell package was 12 oz. More spinach and a touch less ricotta would have been great. I also ended up boiling the shells before stuffing, so I omitted much of the added water from the sauce)
* 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
* 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
* 1/2 cup minced onion
* 1 egg
* 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
* 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
* 1 1/2 cups water
* 1 (8 ounce) package manicotti shells
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, onion and egg. Season with parsley, pepper and garlic powder. Mix in 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan. In a separate bowl, stir together spaghetti sauce and water.
3. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Stuff uncooked manicotti shells with ricotta mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until noodles are soft.