When you read the label on a package of pasta, it says that a 16-oz. bag should serve 8 people. WHAT? I know portion control isn’t one of my strengths but how can 2-oz. of pasta be a full-size serving for a full-size adult? I swear I eat more than that just testing to see if it’s cooked yet.
So how do you get to eat a big bowl of pasta but not get all the carbs and calories? Make the pasta out of zucchini! When you julienne zucchini, it looks just like linguine and it tates even better. The best part is you can have a lot more than 2-oz.! That appeals to my Italian side that demands big bowls of pasta. Simply sauteed in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes, it makes a much healthier and prettier version of linguine aglio-olio.
However, here the zucchini linguine is a side dish to go with my delicious eggplant steaks. Thick slices of eggplant are grilled until tender, then topped with a Meditteranean mixture of flavor and color. Tangy roasted red peppers, hearty green spinach and briny black olives are sauteed in garlic and oil. That delicious mixture gets piled on top of the grilled eggplant steaks, sprinkled with bread crumbs and baked until crispy and golden.
This is an amazingly delicious entree that’s loaded with healthy vegetables. It’s an Italian feast that won’t put you in a carb coma afterwards. My Mediterranean Grilled Eggplant Steaks and Zucchini Linguine Aglio-Olio makes a beautiful presentation for impressing your guests. They’ll never miss the flour pasta especially when they can ask for seconds and thirds and…
Mediterranean Grilled Eggplant Steaks
2 medium eggplants
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2-3 roasted red peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-10 oz. boxes frozen spinach, thawed and drained
Pinch of nutmeg
8-10 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
½ cup gluten-free bread crumbs
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut each eggplant length-wise into 4 steaks, about 1 inch thick. Brush the eggplant steaks with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on one side. Lay the steaks on the grill pan, seasoned side down. While they are cooking, brush the top side with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant about 3-4 minutes on each side until they are tender but not fully cooked. Depending on the size of your grill pan, you may have to do this in batches to cook all 8 steaks. When they are done, transfer them to a baking sheet.
While the eggplant is cooking, heat 2 tsp. oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the roasted red peppers and the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the spinach, separating it with your fingers and mix it into the peppers. Add a pinch of nutmeg. Heat the spinach through. Add the olives to the mixture and remove from the heat.
Top each eggplant steak generously with the spinach/pepper/olive mixture. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs with 2 tsps. oil and most of the parsley, retaining a bit for garnish. Sprinkle the crumbs over each steak. Just put a little. Don’t put so much that you can’t see the pretty colors of the veggie mixture. Bake the eggplant steaks for 5 minutes until the bread crumbs start to brown. Turn the oven to broil and cook an additional 5 minutes or until the crumbs are browned and crispy. Check on it often to make sure it doesn’t burn. Transfer steaks to a platter. Garnish with remaining parsley.
Zucchini Linguini Aglio-Olio
3-4 large zucchini or 6-8 small zucchini, ends trimmed (more if using as an entrée rather than a side dish)
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated vegan parmesan for garnish (optional)
Julienne the zucchini using a mandolin, a peeler or do it by hand. Heat the oil in a skillet (you can just wipe out the one you used for the spinach mixture above) over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 1 minute until the garlic begins to brown and is fragrant. Add the zucchini and salt. Sauté until the zucchini is softened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Season with fresh black pepper. Top with grated parmesan, if desired. Serve while hot. Enjoy!
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.