Debby Maugans, food writer based in Asheville, North Carolina, and author of Small Batch Baking, Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers and Farmer and Chef Asheville.
It’s amazing how quickly and easily cooking in parchment can turn Japanese eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, sweet onion, feta cheese and fresh basil into a mouthwatering, super-healthy dish. When you bake food wrapped in parchment, nutrients stay sealed in…and flavors combine and intensify in a luscious blend. Plus, there’s nothing to clean up!
Long, slender Japanese eggplant is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients, including nanusin, which protects brain cells from oxidation damage. Tangy feta cheese adds calcium for healthy bones and vitamin B-12 …and tomatoes are a treasure house of essential nutrients, including the heart-healthy antioxidant lycopene. They also add a touch of brilliant color!
So grab your scissors, your parchment paper—and let’s get cooking!
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut 4 large (at least 12 x 16-inch) pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half crosswise. Draw a large heart half on the parchment piece, with the fold of the paper along the center of the heart. Cut out the hearts, and place the open cut-out hearts on a baking sheet.
Cut ends off eggplant, and slice crosswise into eight slices. Brush with olive oil, and sprinkle evenly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cut off the ends of the zucchini and cut in half crosswise. Cut each half lengthwise into 4 slices.
Place two eggplant slices side by side in the center of half of each parchment heart, near the fold. Stack the rest of the vegetables as follows—a slice of onion…two tomato slices, side by side…two zucchini slices. Spoon feta cheese on top, dividing evenly. Top with basil leaves, dividing evenly.
To seal the parchment packages: Fold the top half of each heart over the bottom half, covering the vegetables and lining up the edges. Start at the top of the heart and fold the edges of parchment, pleating into tight creases. At the bottom of the heart, twist the end tip tightly to secure. (For a step-by-step visual explanation from Bon Appetit magazine, click here.)
Bake 20 minutes. Place on serving plates. Cut an “X” in the tops, and peel back the pointed edges to open. Use a spatula to lift the stacks onto bottom halves of split ciabatta rolls, drizzle with vinaigrette and top with roll tops. Or lift them onto plates and serve with whole-grain pasta.
Now that you’ve has a taste of parchment cooking, try our other healthy parchment recipes—Garbanzo Vegetable Curry and 5-Spice Chicken Thighs with Vegetables. And if you have a parchment recipe favorite of your own, please share it!