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Hispanic Heritage Month Recipes

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Each year, from September 15 to October 15 Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month by sharing the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. 2021 was especially significant because it was the 200th anniversary of Costa Rican Independence from Spain. Here are a few traditional & unique Latin American recipes you may want to add to your menu: 

Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Flower 
The eggplant is from the Solanceae family of plants, meaning it is related to Tomatoes and Potatoes as well as Tobacco and the group of flowering plants known as the Nightshades. Fun fact: Technically it is a berry, because the fruit contains so many small, soft seeds. Those seeds tend to have a very bitter taste which is because, as a relative of tobacco, they contain small amounts of nicotine. But don't worry, the nicotine content of 20 lbs of eggplants is about the same as that of one cigarette.
Eggplants in our Garden

We've grown 3 types of eggplants this year, Italian Black Beauty, Patio Baby, and Japanese Ichiban Eggplants. And lucky for us we've had a bumper crop. They are a family favorite veggie and so very versatile. My introduction to eggplant was my Mom's Eggplant Parmesan. She makes a great tasty, hearty, never bitter, Eggplant Parmesan...Kishore loved it the minute he tried it. He was surprised it was eggplant because he was use to the smaller egg shaped Indian eggplants.

I like to try to use as much of our garden produce in a single meal as possible, and Eggplant Rollatini seemed the way to go. It used Eggplant, Garlic, Swiss Chard, Basil, Tomatoes,  Marjoram, and Oregano. The herby cheese and chard mix is stuffed in grilled eggplant, then baked in a tasty marinara sauce and topped with some toasted mozzarella. This tasty Eggplant Rollatini is a great hearty meal as we transition from Summer to Autumn.

Here is my recipe for Eggplant Rollatini with Swiss Chard stuffing:

Serves 4

1 large Italian Eggplant
1/2 cup Ricotta 
1/2 cup Mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan/Romano
1 cup Swiss Chard
1/2 cup Fresh Basil leaves
1 Egg
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1 cup Marinara sauce
1 tsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper 

Prep Work: Slice Eggplant thinly into 8-10 slices. Lightly oil a foil lined baking sheet, place eggplant slices and lightly brush with olive oil on both sides, then sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Place in the oven and broil on high for 5 minutes on one side then turn and broil for another 5 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on them because they can burn VERY quickly. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400F.
1. Cook chard with some olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper, until wilted. Then let cool.

2. Place the cooled cooked Chard in a food processor with the Basil and pulse till chopped. Then add ricotta, parmesan, and egg and pulse till mixed. 

3. Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a medium sized baking dish. 

4. To make rolls: Spread Ricotta mix on eggplant slice (about one heaped tablespoon), roll it and arrange in prepared dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining slices. 

5. Cover with remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle Mozzarella over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. 

6. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes, until cheese is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve.



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