Manicotti is a delicious Italian dish, typically made of gluten filled pasta noodles rolled around a tasty filling. For this adorable, petite sized variation, I used thinly sliced eggplant instead of noodles, to create a healthier and naturally gluten free manicotti. The eggplant “noodles” are then filled with an absolutely fantastic vegetarian filling of lentils, mushrooms, and crushed tomatoes. Once the mini manicotti are assembled, they’re smothered in marinara sauce and cheese, then baked until golden, bubbly, and delightful!
Mini Eggplant Manicotti
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1 small eggplant
Salt & Pepper
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon double concentrated tomato paste (like the kind by Amore)
2-3 cremini mushrooms,sliced
2-3 shiitake mushroom caps, quartered
1/2 of a portobello mushroom, stem removed and diced*
1/2 cup cooked brown lentils
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Salt & Pepper
3/4 cup jarred marinara sauce, check for gluten
2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
Fresh Parsley, chopped
(2) small baking dishes, about 8 ounce capacity and (5-6 inches) in diameter (I ended up using two creme brulee dishes)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cut off top and bottom of eggplant, then trim three sides so eggplant resembles a flat block, about 6 inches in length (the flat sides will make it easier to slice on mandoline).
3. Use a mandoline to cut 10-12 thin slices, approximately 6 inches x 2 inches (don’t worry about being exact in measurements, I just wanted to give an idea about how big the slices need to be). You only need 10 slices for the recipe, but it never hurts to have a few extra pieces roasted. After slicing 10-12 pieces, reserve any extra eggplant for another use. (If you don’t have a mandoline slicer, use a sharp knife and cut slices as uniformly and thin as possible.)
4. Arrange eggplant slices on prepared baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray and season with salt & pepper.
5. Place eggplant in oven and roast for 8-10 minutes or until eggplant is tender and slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to assemble. (Leave oven on at 375 degrees).
1. While the eggplant is roasting, begin the filling by adding the olive oil to a large skillet and heat to low. Add garlic to skillet and saute for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for one minute more.
2. Raise heat to medium, then add mushrooms to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until mushrooms have cooked down and are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add lentils, crushed tomatoes, thyme, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes to filling. Stir to combine ingredients, then season with salt and pepper. Bring filling to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove skillet from heat then stir in balsamic vinegar and fresh basil.
Assembly & Baking:
1. Coat baking dishes with a layer of nonstick spray. Add (1/4) cup of marinara sauce to each baking dish and spread in a even layer.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of filling to one of the eggplant noodles, about an inch from the bottom. Roll up eggplant, enclosing the filling, then place eggplant roll in one of the baking dishes, seam side down.
3. Repeat process with (4) more eggplant noodles and arrange in the same baking dish as first manicotti roll so that there’s five rolls total.
4. Repeat process, preparing (5) more mancotti rolls for the other baking dish. Spoon the remaining 1/4 cup of marinara sauce on top of manicotti rolls (about 2 tablespoons per baking dish). Sprinkle the top of each dish with 1 teaspoon of parmesan cheese
5. Place baking dishes in oven and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until golden and starting to bubble along the sides.
6. Sprinkle with fresh parsley, and enjoy!
Nutrition Information--approximately 205 calories per serving (1/2 of the recipe)
*Note: I like using a variety of mushrooms for the filling but if you’d rather not buy three different kinds, just use (1) whole portobello