My 14 year-old daughter recently decided to be vegetarian. Much as I support her lifestyle choices (hear hear for the plant food lovers), I suddenly find myself thinking a lot more about food and cooking than I usually do.
It’s so easy to just fling a chop or steak in a pan, prep some sides and call it lunch or dinner, right?
Fact is, I live on plant food most of the time. OK, and a lot of starch as well. I’m pretty sussed when it comes to my own nutritional needs, but when it comes to taking responsibility for someone else’s wellbeing, you suddenly start taking it a lot more seriously.
My main concern is that my daughter will get enough protein. And that she will continue to find food fun and interesting.
She’s pretty vocal in her disappointment when I make dishes she doesn’t like but hey, we’re on a learning curve here…while I can live very happily on rice and lentils with a bit of spice added for a week or so, my daughter demands variety and a lot more excitement on her plate.
But then again, it’s high time she learned to cook for herself.
As my mom used to say, ‘Hunger is the best sauce’.
My challenge at the moment is to make plant food interesting and delicious for my daughter.
And this is still one of my all-time favourite vegetarian recipes. It’s got texture, flavour, colour, boldness and punch.
EGGPLANT ROLLS BAKED WITH HALLOUMI, ROCKET AND RED PEPPERS
2 medium-sized eggplants
4T (60ml) olive oil
Salt and pepper
4T (60ml) tahini
1 large or 2 medium sweet red peppers
50g (large handful) rocket
4T (60ml) basil pesto
1 x 410g can chopped tomatoes, plain or seasoned
3T (45ml) olive oil
4T (60ml) breadcrumbs or grated Parmesan, or both
- Preheat oven to 200 C. Lightly grease a baking tray.
- Pour the contents of the tin of tomatoes and 3T (45ml) olive oil in a baking dish and season. Set aside while you roast the eggplant.
- Slice eggplants lengthways into ¾ cm thick slices. Brush lightly on both sides with olive oil, season and roast on a baking tray in a hot oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool but leave the oven on.
- Brush one side of each eggplant slice with some tahini.
- Cut the peppers and halloumi into strips about ½ cm thick.
- Place a few strips of pepper and halloumi horizontally across the thin end of an eggplant slice, add a few rocket leaves and a little drizzle of pesto.
- Roll up the eggplant slices around the filling and place in the oven dish with chopped tomato and olive oil. Sprinkle over breadcrumbs or Parmesan and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.