Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eggplant Napoleon with Quinoa Cakes

This stack of eggplant, cheese, roasted red pepper and quinoa tastes as beautiful as it looks. I paired two recipes: Eggplant Napoleons and Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella for a twist on the classic eggplant stack: the quinoa cake adds a protein boost to the dish, plus a wonderful crunch at the bottom of the pile.  As usual, I've scaled down the oil and substituted reduced-fat cheese to make a healthy, light summer dinner. Certainly impressive to a crowd, these Eggplant Napoleon with Quinoa Cakes are not too difficult to make, so I recommend hosting a dinner party to test them out. Enjoy!

Eggplant Napoleons (original recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network...she ranked it as "Level: Easy", so go for it!!)
Prep time: 15 min, Inactive Prep Time: 5 Min, Cook Time: 23 Minutes. Serves 4



  • 1 large or 2 small eggplants, unpeeled, cut into 12 (1/2-inch thick) slices
  • 1 12 oz can roasted red peppers, thinly sliced to 4-inch lengths (the original recipe calls for asparagus slices instead of roasted red pepper. Feel free to use either or both!)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Balsamic Vinegar, for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 (15-ounce) container skim milk ricotta or 1% whipped cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or low-fat mozzarella
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: hot red pepper flakes


Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
For the eggplant: Place a grill pan over medium-high heat, or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.* Drizzle the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, about 4 minutes each side. 
*I don't have a grill, so I roasted the eggplant in the oven on 450 degrees F for 10 minutes on each side before continuing with directions.
For the filling: In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta/cottage cheese, basil, Pecorino Romano/Mozzarella, lemon zest, and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper (and red pepper flakes if desired), to taste.
To assemble: Place 4 slices eggplant on a work surface. Spread each with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ricotta/cottage cheese mixture. Line 4 pieces of roasted red pepper, side-by-side, on top. Place another slice of eggplant on top and repeat the layers. Top each napoleon with a slice of eggplant and place on a small baking sheet. Bake until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Pour a generous serving of balsamic vinegar over the stack and serve over quinoa cake (recipe below).
Note: If the eggplant slices dry out in the oven, drizzle with olive oil before serving.
Quinoa Cakes (derived from Epicurious)
Active Time: 45 min, Total Time: 1 1/4 hr.  Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Directions: 
Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan.
Meanwhile, wash quinoa in 3 changes of water in a bowl, then drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.
Stir quinoa into boiling water and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in egg.
Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lightly brush with oil. Lightly oil a 1-cup dry-ingredient measure. Pack enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula to fill it two-thirds full. (If spatula becomes sticky, dip in water.) Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Make 3 more quinoa cakes, brushing measure with oil each time. Chill cakes, uncovered, at least 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Carefully add quinoa cakes and cook, turning once carefully, until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes total (pat cakes to reshape with cleaned rubber spatula while cooking if necessary). Transfer to plates and serve Eggplant Napoleons on top.


  1. I am so excited to try this!!! Thank you Rachel!!!!!

  2. This looks delicious. I'll definitely be making it soon. Do you think it would work if I seasoned the quinoa cake at all?


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