Roasted Eggplant Cannelloni
These are so light and delicious you won’t believe they’re good for you. The roasted eggplant adds a wonderful, smooth flavor to the filling and using the no boil noodles keeps them slim and small. Béchamel sauce is very traditional in Italy with cannelloni or lasagna and you will likely have leftover sauce which can be used with other dishes. I will often prepare either one of my lasagna recipes at the same time or double this cannelloni recipe, freezing one for another day. If you prefer, a simple tomato sauce will work just as well as the béchamel.
1 pkg. veggie “meat crumbles”
1 large or 3 small eggplant
3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 T. oregano
¼ t. dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 t. garlic salt
½ c. chopped fire roasted tomatoes
¼ c. fresh basil (chopped roughly)
2 cups béchamel sauce (recipe below)
1 box of no boil lasagna noodles
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place washed whole eggplant on a lined baking sheet. Prick it with a fork a few times and bake it whole, until it’s nicely roasted and slightly collapsed. Remove the eggplant from the oven and set it aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile prepare the béchamel sauce and set aside. When the eggplant has cooled slice in half down from top to bottom. If you’re using large eggplant, and there are a lot of seeds, you may want to scoop out some of them and discard. Pull out the rest of the soft pulp down to the peel and chop the flesh fairly small and set aside.
Heat a deep skillet on medium heat, add the oil and when it’s mobile, add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until it’s soft and slightly translucent. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, and oregano. Stir a minute or two to release aromas. Now add crumbles. Cook the crumbles for a few minutes, until slightly browned. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a little more olive oil. Add the chopped eggplant, the tomatoes, and garlic salt, and stir to combine. Cook an additional few minutes until everything is nice and hot. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped basil. If desired season to your taste with salt, pepper, and additional oregano or basil. Set that mixture aside and prepare pasta.
Bring a wide, shallow skillet of salted water to a boil. When the water boils, add the no-boil lasagna sheets two to three at a time. Move them around a bit and when they are flexible and just slightly softened, remove them with tongs, and lay them on your work board. This takes about two to three minutes and you really want these underdone because you’ll bake them additionally in the oven.
Spoon some of the béchamel sauce, about a quarter of an inch to half an inch into a baking dish. Keep it next to your work area – you will be placing the cannelloni into this dish after stuffing.
Lay the noodles out flat to begin filling and rolling. Meanwhile, add another three sheets of pasta to the water. Place two to three heaping tablespoons of filling along one edge of each little sheet of pasta, roll it up, and place the cannelloni into the prepared baking dish. Continue until you’ve used all the pasta sheets.
Ladle some additional béchamel sauce over the cannelloni, top with a drizzle of olive oil and a little more fresh basil. Pour about 1/4 cup of water around the outer perimeter of the cannelloni, cover the baking dish with foil, and bake at 350 degree for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes. The cannelloni should be steaming, heated through, and bubbly. Serve with a simple salad and garlic bread.
Béchamel Blush Sauce Ingredients:
6 T. vegan margarine, or olive oil
6 T. unbleached flour
3 c. unsweetened soy milk (warmed)
1-2 tsp. tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
To prepare béchamel sauce:
In a saucepan, melt the margarine over medium low heat. When the margarine begins to bubble whisk in the flour. Cook this roux over very low heat for a few minutes, but don’t let it brown. The idea is to cook off some of the raw flour flavor. When the roux begins to smell a little nutty and fragrant begin whisking in the soymilk. Continue whisking the milk about a cup at a time until the sauce is thickened and smooth. If it begins to get too thick, you may add a little additional milk or a bit of water, but use a light hand. The sauce should be a creamy thick consistency that evenly coats the back of a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat and season it with salt and pepper, a few gratings of fresh nutmeg. Finally, whisk in the tomato paste.
This sauce will likely thicken while it sits. If it does, simple loosen it with some liquid, either milk or a little water. Store any leftovers in a covered container for up to a week.