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.

  • We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


    Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


    Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.