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What's Cooking This Week? Spinach- and Ricotta-Stuffed Eggplant, Plus Shrimp

I love cooking for my fiancé and planning meals for us, but cooking for two often proves to be difficult. If I don't make a plan, I end up running around in circles at the grocery store and wasting half the ingredients I've bought (and I hate wasting food). Enter What's Cooking This Week -- my meal plan and grocery guide. This way, I can make the most of my ingredients and my leftovers.

Last week, Roasted Butternut Squash was tossed in a Creamy Penne Pasta and re-used in Butternut Squash Soup. This week, a quick marinara is the base for Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi and Eggplant Rollatini.

Here's the rest of the plan:

  • Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi
  • Watercress Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, and Grilled Shrimp
  • Basil and Ricotta Stuffed Eggplant Rolls
  • Pork Chops with Balsamic Red Peppers and Baked Sweet Potato Fries
  • Rigatoni with Roasted Red Peppers, Almonds and Bread Crumbs

    Pantry Items

  • Oil (olive, extra virgin, canola, peanut)
  • Red wine and balsamic vinegar
  • Cooking spray
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Seasoned breadcrumbs (whole wheat)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Chicken stock
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper

    Grocery List based on servings for two with leftovers

  • 8-10 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 bone-in pork chops
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 package baby spinach
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 oz dried cranberries
  • 4 oz slivered almonds
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes (can or jar)
  • 1 package rigatoni

    Day 1 - Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi *Makes leftover Marinara for Eggplant Rollatini

    Heat saucepan over medium heat and coat lightly with olive oil. Add in one chopped yellow onion and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in 3-4 cloves minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add in one can crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in a pinch of sugar and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in torn fresh basil. *Reserve half the sauce for use in day 3.

    Meanwhile, cook 1 cup packed baby spinach in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and crushed pepper until wilted. Allow to cool and squeeze out excess oil.

    In a large bowl, mix cooked spinach, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp salt, and 2 tbsp parmesan cheese. Incorporate flour 1 tbsp at a time until dough is sticky, but can be shaped into balls (use as much as 1/4 cup).

    Heat a pot of salted water to point of boiling. Add gnudi, a few at a time, to pot and boil until they float at the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and set in a boil with a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat until all gnudi are made.

    Spoon sauce onto bottom of plate and top with gnudi. Serve topped with parmesan cheese and chopped basil.

    Day 2 - Watercress Salad with Cranberries, Almonds, & Grilled Shrimp

    Drizzle shrimp with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Heat a grill pan to medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add shrimp and cook, turning once, until just-pink and slightly charred, about 1-3 minutes per side depending on the size.

    Meanwhile, lightly toast 2 oz slivered almonds in a dry plan until fragrant. Whisk together 1 tsp red wine vinegar, 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over watercress and toss with dried cranberries and toasted almonds.

    Top with grilled shrimp.

    Day 3 - Basil & Ricotta Stuffed Eggplant Rolls *Uses leftover Marinara

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Season each slice with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Dip in beaten egg and breadcrumb if desired.

    Heat a skillet to medium-high and coat lightly with olive oil. Sauté eggplant, flipping once, until light golden brown on both sides. Drain pieces on paper towel. To make the filling, mix 1/4 cup ricotta with 1-2 tbsp parmesan, 1 egg yolk, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Spoon ricotta mixture onto narrow end of each eggplant and top with a basil leaf. Roll up to form logs.

    Coat baking dish with 1/4 cup sauce and arrange eggplant seam side down in a single layer. Spoon 1/4 cup sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and sliced mozzarella.

    Bake 15-20 minutes until sauce is bubbly and cheese has browned.

    Meanwhile, toss remaining baby spinach with chopped tomato, diced shallot, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1-2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.

    Serve eggplant rollatini with spinach salad.

    Day 4 - Pork Chops with Balsamic Red Peppers & Baked Sweet Potato Fries

    Heat oven to 400 degrees.

    Wash sweet potato (leave skin on) and cut into long, thin fries. Toss in a large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Place in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet and cook 5 to 8 minutes. Turn over and bake until golden and just crisp, about another 5 to 8 minutes depending on thickness of fries. Be careful not to overcook.

    Meanwhile, season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and coat lightly with olive oil. Add pork and cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side depending on thickness. Remove from pan and set aside.

    Add 1-2 cloves chopped garlic and 1/4 cup sliced roasted red peppers, juice removed. Stir in 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp chicken stock and a pinch of brown sugar. Cook until sauce has thickened.

    Serve chops topped with balsamic red peppers alongside baked sweet potato fries.

    Day 5 - Rigatoni with Roasted Red Peppers, Almonds & Bread Crumbs recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

    Cook 2 servings of rigatoni to al dente according to package instructions.

    Meanwhile, heat 1-2 tsp olive oil in a small sauté pan and stir in 1 clove minced garlic. Add 2 tbsp each of bread crumbs and roughly chopped almonds. Cook, tossing, until lightly toasted.

    Toss cooked pasta with parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup sliced roasted red peppers and a large drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

    Serve topped with toasted breadcrumb mixture and more parmesan cheese as needed.

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