We hear requests from lots of Love Them Madly and Love U Madly readers for dinner recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes. Life is too busy and take-out too simple to cook longer on most weeknights. I agree and have a decent collection of quick, family-friendly meals I’ll try to share, though its tempting to post only the more out-of-ordinary efforts in my kitchen.
How’s that for 30 minutes? To be clear, its really 15 minutes of prep and 30 minutes of baking, but its so worth it. These falafel-like sandwiches – minus the deep-frying – are a favorite in our dinner rotation. The eggplant is dipped in egg and a breadcrumb-parmesan mix, then baked until it is melt in your mouth delicious, either alone or stuffed in a pita with your choice of fixings: feta cheese, red peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, hummus and tahini.
This recipe comes from Aviva Goldfarb, the author of SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue Cookbook, and founder of The Scramble, a subscription-based meal planning service. I’ve subscribed in the past and just re-upped in search of some new easy meal ideas that will work for my partly-vegetarian family. Membership ranges from $3 to $7 a week. Each Wednesday, members receive an e-newsletter with a suggested, seasonal meal plan, complete with healthy recipes, side dish suggestions and an organized shopping list. The column that accompanies the meal plan is enjoyably informative and the website allows you to customize meal plans and send your shopping list to your cell phone.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those parents who shop on Sunday for the week, instead of frequenting the market almost daily. Using The Scramble gets me as close as I’ll ever get to that ideal. Depending on our schedule, I tend to shop for three of the The Scramble’s five recipes, adapt leftovers for one of the recipes for the fourth night and skip cooking one night (take out or eat out),
As breading and baking the eggplant is the time-consuming part of the recipe, I usually make a double batch of eggplant when I make this recipe. After we enjoy the eggplant pitas, I layer the leftover baked eggplant in a pan with tomato sauce and shredded cheeses and have an eggplant parmesan ready to go for the next night or ready to freeze. I served one such “leftover” eggplant parm to my neighbors for a makeshift dinner a few months ago and it received rave reviews and a request for the recipe.
Warm Eggplant Pita Sandwiches
- 2 eggs, beaten (or use 1 cup liquid egg whites or egg substitute)
- 1 cup bread crumbs, (mix in 1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired)
- 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 cup hummus, for serving
- 4 pita pockets, whole wheat or white (*I’m partial to Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern Flatbread)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs. In a separate shallow bowl, pour the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese (opt). Using a fork, dip eggplant in the egg, let excess drip off, and dip both sides in bread crumb mixture to coat. Place breaded eggplant slices on pan and top with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping once, until eggplant slices are soft and lightly browned.
Put sandwich fixings, including sauce of choice, in bowls.
Heat pita in oven or microwave (wrapped in foil) before serving. Transfer eggplant slices to a plate, and assemble sandwiches at the table, while eggplant is still warm.
* For tahini sauce, mix together 1/2 cup of tahini (sesame paste) and plain yogurt, and add 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, and a TBSP of lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.
Want to try more recipes like these?