basil

Eggplant Parmesan My Way

by Anne Maxfield on September 3, 2018

Accidental Locavore Striped EggplantSince I first posted this, it’s become my go-to recipe for eggplant Parmesan. It’s lighter (but still no diet dish) than traditional and I do it in stages when we get a couple of cooler hours in a day. It’s inspired from Mark Bitman’s How to Cook Everything and really good because it’s dredged in flour, not heavily breaded. Serves about 4.

Eggplant Parmesan My Way

  • 3 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 cup of flour (for dredging)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella grated (about 2/3 of a fresh ball)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • About 30 basil leaves (or a mix of oregano and basil)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce

Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. While the olive oil is heating, pour the flour, salt and pepper into a shallow bowl. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour and shake off the excess. Saute the slices in the olive oil until golden brown. You’re going to need to do this in batches, and don’t crowd the pan! Let the cooked slices drain on paper towels while you saute the rest. You’ll need to keep adding olive oil to the pan, and it will seem like a lot; it is, but this is not a low-fat dinner.

Accidental Locavore Eggplant Parm My WayWhen you’ve finished sauteing the eggplant, take a gratin pan, or several small ones, and lightly grease with olive oil. Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce, a layer of eggplant slices, a sprinkling of mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan, and a few basil leaves. Keep repeating until you reach the end  of the eggplant. On top of your last layer of eggplant, more tomato sauce, the rest of the mozzarella, a good sprinkle of Parmesan, and your best looking basil leaves (style points). Bake for about 20 minutes until it’s warm all the way through and the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Frank paid this the ultimate compliment last night, when he said I did for eggplant what Bill (the former chef at Rancho la Puerta) did for salmon. In other words, made him love something he’s not generally fond of. This recipe works well because the eggplant is thinly sliced and not heavily breaded. Since sautéing the eggplant, is what takes time, I often do it ahead of time and just pull it out when I’m ready to bake it. We thought, last night, that some Italian sausage might be a nice addition to this, so maybe next time.

Update: This is my go-to way of making eggplant Parm. I generally do add some Italian sausage, crumbled, into the layers. Frank loves this and now looks forward to having eggplants from our CSA share. I ususally find a cool morning to fry up the eggplant and try to do a big batch, as it freezes and reheats well. If it’s going to be hot out, I’ll just carefully bag the cooked eggplant, and wait for a cooler day to assemble and bake.

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A Simpler Eggplant Parmesan

by Anne Maxfield on September 3, 2015

Accidental Locavore Grilled Eggplant ParmAlthough it’s not a terribly difficult dish, the Accidental Locavore was experimenting with a simpler eggplant parm. Instead of breading and frying the eggplant, I opted for peeling it, slicing it thinly and grilling it. It’s still not a low-calorie dish, but slightly less of a fat delivery system…This makes about 4 servings:Accidental Locavore Grated Mozzarella

  • 2 medium-sized Italian eggplants, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small ball fresh mozzarella, grated (about ½ pound)
  • Grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
  • Fresh basil

 

Accidental Locavore Grilled Eggplant SlicesHeat a grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat. Put the olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl, add the eggplant and toss gently until well-coated. Grill the eggplant for about 2-3 minutes a side, until it’s browned and tender.

Accidental Locavore Finished Eggplant ParmPreheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease a gratin pan with the olive oil. Coat the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce. Add a layer of eggplant and top with mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan and 4-5 basil leaves. Repeat with the tomato sauce, eggplant, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil. You should get 2-3 layers depending on the size of your pan. Top with more tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and your best-looking basil leaves. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown and the eggplant is warmed through. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: A really good version of eggplant parm! While the sauce seemed a little thinner than normal, it may just have been that batch of sauce. I’m not sure if breading the eggplant would act as a thickener on the sauce, but it wasn’t a huge difference and certainly didn’t take away from the flavor or the cheesy goodness. What was different was that I wasn’t frying eggplant forever (and then cleaning up afterwards) – just popped it all on the grill. Doing this also gave me a chance to take all the peelers I’ve been collecting for a test run, so stay tuned for the results – kind of surprising.

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Accidental Locavore Tomato SauceThis is an amazing and simple tomato sauce the Accidental Locavore had at the gnocchi class at Haven’s Kitchen. It’s very simple but takes time for the tomatoes to cook down and develop their incredible flavor. Makes a lot, so be prepared to have a big pasta party, can or freeze.

  • Three 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes with their liquid, crushed with hand or chopped roughly (use good tomatoes here, like San Marzano)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (or less to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 1 ¼ cups of olive oil (you want a good but not great olive oil)
  • 2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and smashed (no need to peel)
  • 1-2 bunches of basil, roughly chopped (stems and all)
  • Pinch of red chili flakes (to taste)

In a medium-large pot over medium heat, add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and lower heat to medium low. Season with sugar and salt, to taste. Tomatoes should simmer low and slow for 1 ½ -2 hours.

Accidental Locavore Basil and TomatoesWhile the tomatoes are cooking, prepare the flavored oil. In a small pot add the olive oil, basil and garlic, and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Simmer for 30 minutes, still on low heat or the garlic will overcook and burn. Remove from heat and add the red pepper flakes. Let sit until the tomatoes are cooked, at least 30 minutes.

When the tomatoes are ready, strain the oil directly into the tomatoes. You just want to add enough of the oil to flavor the tomatoes ( I used it all). If you have any leftover oil you can use it  for the table, for dipping bread into.

Notes:

  • After straining the garlic and basil oil, remove the garlic, peel and use as garlic confit. I pureed mine and use it for salads and vegetables, delicious!
  • In the summer time, you can make this same recipe with 2 parts fresh tomatoes (peeled and seeded) to 1 part canned tomatoes.

 

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Grilled Spaghetti Squash With Eggplant and Burrata

by Anne Maxfield on September 9, 2011

By just treating spaghetti squash like spaghetti, you have lots of options. Here I’m pairing it with some of Paul’s beautiful eggplant. I’m grilling my squash and eggplant, but you can roast both in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. If you haven’t tried burrata, treat yourself, it’s amazing!

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half the long way (scoop out the seeds)
  • 1 eggplant, cut in half the long way
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces burrata or mozzarella, torn into ½” pieces (smoked mozzarella, feta or even chevre would work)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into ½” cubes
  • ½ cup basil, chopped (mint would be fine too)

Heat a grill to medium. Brush cut side of squash and all of eggplant with oil. Grill turning the eggplant occasionally, until they are both tender. This will take about 25 minutes. Check doneness by running a fork through the squash, it should be tender (same for eggplant).

Scoop out the strands of the spaghetti squash and large serving bowl.  Coarsely chop the eggplant and add to the eggplant with the tomatoes, burrata and basil. Toss to combine, serve and enjoy.

 

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m working on using the spaghetti squash as a substitute for rice noodles in Pad Thai. What do you think?

 

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