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Posts Tagged ‘eggplant’

I can attest to the fact that this is excellent at room temperature.  And let me tell you why I know this.  My darling little Chloe seems to know exactly what time dinner is to be served.  No matter her sleeping schedule during the day, she makes it a point to wake up just as we’re sitting down to eat.  And she’s not interested in hanging out in our laps.  She wants to EAT!  So, alas, I feed her.  And when she is sated, I get back to my Eggplant Parmesan.  No longer hot.  But still delicious.

Eggplant Parmesan
yields 8-10 servings

To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, cut a large rustic loaf of bread in half and allow it to stale overnight.  The next day, use a bread knife to remove the crust and discard.  Cut the bread into rough cubes and process in a food processor until fine (nothing larger than 1/8-inch).

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • a pinch of chili flake
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 2 14-1/2 ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup water

Place a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, chili, bay, and salt.  Continue to cook gently until translucent.

Meanwhile, pour the canned tomatoes and liquid into a medium bowl.  Use your fingers to break up the tomatoes and remove any skin that remains.  Add to the cooked onions.  Use the water to “rinse” out the cans, and add to the pot.

Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook gently for about 45 minutes.  Taste for salt and set aside.

For the eggplant Parmesan:

  • 1 batch tomato sauce (see above recipe)
  • 2 large globe eggplants
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt plus another sprinkle on the fried eggplant
  • 4-5 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/4 cups vegetable oil or pure olive oil
  • 8 ounces mozzarella

Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds.  Lay them on a rack resting over a cookie sheet and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of kosher salt over them.  Allow to sit for approx 10 minutes.  Flip the eggplant over and sprinkle the other side with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt.  Allow  to sit for 1-2 hours.

Using paper towels, pat the eggplant dry.

Meanwhile, set up a “breading station”.  Pour the flour onto one plate.  Pour some of the breadcrumbs onto another plate (you’ll add more crumbs as needed), and pour the eggs into a wide, shallow dish.  To bread the eggplant, first coat the slices in flour, then dip them in the egg, and then coat them with the breadcrumbs.  Place the breaded eggplant back onto the racks and allow them to “set” for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400º.

Heat about 1/3 of the oil in a large saute pan set over medium-low heat.  Carefully place a single layer of breaded eggplant slices into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides.   Set back on the rack and salt lightly.  Remove any burned bits from the pan, add more oil as necessary, and continue this process until all the eggplant has been browned.

Spoon about 1/4 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  Place a layer of fried eggplant on top of the tomato sauce.  Spoon another 1/4 of the tomato sauce over the eggplant, and sprinkle with 1/3 of the Parmesan and 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Add two more layers of eggplant, sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella.**

Cover with baking dish with a layer of parchment paper*, and then aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove cover, and bake for another 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is golden.

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

*The acidity of the tomato sauce will react with the aluminum foil creating an “off” taste.  Always use parchment underneath foil when topping ingredients that are acidic.

**Another way I like to make this is to place the eggplant into the dish by tiling them (slightly overlapping) in a single layer, rather than stacking.  This method uses a little less eggplant and results in more crispy parts.

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I’m not really big on rules.  Actually, let me rephrase that.  I’m not really big on rules when it comes to cooking.  There are some rules that I follow steadfastly, like stopping at red lights, not BBQing on smog days, and putting the toilet seat up when I’m done (ha! pshaw!).  But when it comes to cooking, breaking the rules usually turns out well.

Take caponata for instance.  A traditional caponata is a sort of condiment or salad that contains eggplant, onion, tomato, olives, capers, pine nuts, and a few other things.  But I didn’t have all those ingredients at home, so I made caponata with what I did have at home.  I used a similar cooking method and just substituted some other things that I wanted to use up.  And it was delicious!  And who cares that it’s not traditional!

We ate our “caponata” with potatoes that I chunked up, tossed in oil and salt, and roasted til crispy.  Then we topped it with Ventresca tuna (tuna belly).  But you could also eat it along side a steak or on crackers, or stirred into pasta…

“Caponata”

  • olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • a pinch of chili flake
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed, mortared
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups diced eggplant, about 1/2″ cubes
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons packed mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste

In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, warm about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion, celery, chili flake, and a pinch of salt, and cook slowly until they are partially translucent.  Add the garlic, bell pepper, coriander, and another pinch of salt, and continue cooking until the pepper softens.

Scoot the veggies over to one side of the pan, add a little more olive oil to the empty side, and pour in the tomatoes and another pinch of salt.  Now move the pan on the stove so that the flame is directly under the tomatoes and the other veggies are somewhat off the heat.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow the tomatoes to begin to soften before stirring them into the other vegetables.  Pour the whole vegetable mixture onto a plate, scraping the pan well with a rubber spatula, and set aside.

Pour another 2 Tablespoons olive oil into the saute pan and place it over medium-high heat.  Add the eggplant, and a sprinkling of salt.  Toss.  Then allow the eggplant to sit, without stirring for a minute or two, until it begins to color.  (Note that eggplant soaks up a lot of oil, but once it softens it releases some of that oil).  Give the eggplant a stir and again, allow it to sit without stirring for a minute or two.  Add a little more oil, judiciously, if it needs it.

When the eggplant has softened and is lightly golden, pour the vegetable mixture back into the saute pan and add the vinegar and mint.  Turn the heat to low.  Give it a good stir and cook slowly, with a lid, for 20-30 minutes, until all the veggies are completely tender.  (You may need to add up to a 1/2 cup of water to keep the veggies from sticking).

Taste for salt and vinegar.  It shouldn’t taste sour, but the vinegar should counteract the richness.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Yum!

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