Every day is a battle to actually prepare a meal at dinnertime for myself instead of opening a blue box of mac and cheese or swinging by Taco Bell. I am actually impressed by only caving once thus far. Oddly enough I spruced up that blue box by topping it off with some lentil soup and fried okra. That is what happens when you are hungry and rummage through the pantry and freezer for random items. Oddly enough it was quite delicious and I may have to do it again the next time I cave.
But on the days I do manage to cook it is rarely anything that takes more than 30 minutes of preparation. And yes, this recipe today falls into the category. It may look fancy and difficult but the hardest part is slicing the eggplant, unless you’re smart and pull out your mandoline (I own one but always forget). The next hardest part? Not eating the entire pan by yourself in one sitting. The creamy pesto was freaking amazing and I wanted to bathe in it.
EGGPLANT MANICOTTI WITH CREAMY PESTO FILLING
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup spinach leaves
4 Tbsp reduced fat cream cheese
15 oz. part-skim ricotta
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 lb. eggplant, cut lengthwise into 20 slices
2 cups marinara sauce
- Combine 1/2 cup mozzarella, pesto, spinach, cream cheese, ricotta, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
- Arrange half the eggplant slices (or as many will fit) in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper. Lightly coat with cooking spray and broil for 5 minutes or until browned and very tender. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place the eggplant slices, browned sides down, on a smooth surface. Spoon about 2 tbsp of the pesto filling in the center of each slice. Roll up, starting at the short ends, and place the eggplant rolls, seam sides down, over the sauce. Repeat with remaining eggplant and pesto. If there is any pesto left over, pour it on top of the eggplant rolls. Pour 1 cup marinara sauce over the eggplant rolls. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella evenly over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.