I don't know about you, but a three-day weekend to me means two things: catching up on homework, and finally being able to cook an amazing dinner this week!
Graduate school has resumed for me, and with it, of course, my graduate assistantship duties, in addition to my bartending job. In short? I'm busy. Too busy too cook a huge meal every night, or even eat one, for that matter. But as tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and university offices are closed, and today is Sunday, and the bar is closed, I can finally take a breath and enjoy some home cooking!
A dish that has been on my mind a lot lately is eggplant manicotti; unfortunately, I haven't had the time, until tonight, to make it again. I first made eggplant manicotti several months ago and thought it was so scrumptious, as did my boyfriend. It's very filling and hearty. Prefaced with a crisp salad, this is a perfect romantic dinner for a cold night in! I used this recipe from AllRecipes, with only a few minor adjustments. My meat-eating boyfriend thought the original recipe was too "bland," so we upped the amount of thyme and added garlic powder, black pepper, basil, and parsley. I also found that 10 ounces of spinach was quite a bit for just six manicotti shells, so we were able to make more servings out of this.
I think everybody remembers the first time they try an outstanding dish. I remember the first time I ever had manicotti; I was in high school, and my sister came to visit and made a vegetarian-friendly manicotti for dinner. Manicotti is one of those dishes, like vegetarian lasagna, that is just so yummy that you have a hard time believing it would be easy or uncomplicated to make yourself. Don't be fooled by the lengthy ingredient list; this recipe is extremely easy to make. The only thing tricky is trying not to tear the manicotti shells during the stuffing step, especially if you overcook them. Otherwise, all the preparation consists of are the same basic steps you follow in hundreds of other vegetarian recipes. Nothing fancy, just a remarkably delicious outcome.
Manicotti is loved by vegans and meat-eaters, and no "faux meats" are needed to spice this dish up. In fact, I actually think the addition of soy beef would unnecessarily, and unwantedly, distract from the overall "herb and cheese" taste of this eggplant- and spinach-based pasta meal. Warm, cheesy, healthy, and a mealtime favorite, eggplant manicotti is a flawless and easy culinary piece that should grace every vegetarian and meat-eater's dinner table.