Sesame crusted eggplant with braised leeks

Sometimes I pop out a recipe that leaves me thinking, Eureka! I can’t believe I just did that, and it turned out sooo freakin’ fabulous! Yeah I said sometimes, not always… but tonight was one of those sometimes moments :)
I raided my mothers fridge and pantry and pulled out the following: 1 large eggplant, some leeks, garbanzo bean flour (sounds strange, i know, but I was excited to try it) and a jar of organic marinara sauce. Here is what I came up with. My initial inspiration was something resembling an eggplant parmesan…

Sesame Crusted Eggplant with Braised Leeks 
1 lg. eggplant
1 leek
1 tbs. minced garlic
1/2 c. chickpea flour (also called garbanzo bean flour or besan flour) *gluten free
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
2  Tbs. sunflower oil
1/2 c. Ener-G egg substitute (for vegan) or 2 egg whites + 2 Tbs water whisked (for vegetarian)
1 Tbs. olive oil
brown rice, cooked
organic marinara sauce, heated (I often make homemade but geez I’m not superwoman every night)
1 Tbs. kosher salt or sea salt

Oh Eggplant… how I love thee Eggplant.

1. Wash and slice eggplant as shown. Coat eggplant slices in salt, liberally, and set aside. **This process is called sweating the eggplant. The salt will be washed off afterwards so don’t worry about too much sodium intake. The salt draws the water out of the vegetable and produces a sweeter, less bitter result. Allow the eggplant to sit for about 20 -25 minutes, then rinse each slice under water and set on paper towels to dry. Pat eggplant with paper towels to release extra moisture. 

2. Combine garbanzo bean flour and sesame seeds in shallow bowl. In a separate bowl whisk egg whites or Ener-G egg substitute and 2 Tbs. water. 
3. Dip eggplant slices in egg wash and drench in flour mixture. Make sure both sides of eggplant are covered. Repeat with all slices. 
4. Heat 2 Tbs. sunflower oil on medium/high heat. Add eggplant slices and pan-sear until golden brown on all sides. **At this point, I moved my eggplant to a 300 degree oven to keep warm while I braised my leeks and warmed up my tomato sauce. This step could be avoided if you wish. 
5. Carefully wash and slice leeks as shown. 

6.  Add olive oil and garlic to saute pan on medium heat. Add leeks and cook until tender and slightly browned. 

7. Pull eggplant slices out of the oven and set aside. On a serving plate add one scoop brown rice, top with warm marinara and eggplant slices and finish with braised leeks. 

Pair with your favorite salad and enjoy!

I can’t even put into words why this dinner was so divine. The sesame seeds added that perfect crunch, the garbanzo bean flour had a wonderful flavor, and when paired with the leeks it all just POPPED on the taste buds. Also the RICE was a really good idea. I already had the brown rice underway in the rice cooker when my thoughts strayed to shouldn’t I be making pasta since this is an Italian inspired dish? Nay nay, my friends. The rice is the perfect accompaniment to breaded eggplant. 

With all of that said, I think I’ll take my foodie o-gasm to bed. Night night everyone. Peace, love & veggies ~*~

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