2 November 2012

Eggplant parmesan, discovered so late in life!

Okay, I'm not forty for two more days yet, and can't really this consider this late in life. But nearly 40 years without discovering this fantastic dish? A healthy vege foodie like me? Unbelievable.

Even more amazing is that I've had a book with a recipe for it, the Moosewood Cookbook, for about half my life. It seems to me that hardly anyone outside the United States has ever heard of the Moosewood, and I can't remember how I came to it, but it's always been a favourite. The dog eared cover is a giveaway. And check out the hand-written look to the print and doodled illustrations - classic!

To the author, Molly Katzen, a fellow curly-top: I think we could be friends. I like your style. Please come to dinner and I'll cook you... well, eggplant parmesan, of course.

My sister-in-law, who is a most excellent cook, made this a few weeks ago and I was instantly smitten. The recipe is below, just slightly modified from the Moosewood version.

It's actually a bit saucier than this looks. This was the leftovers.
I did mean to take a photo of the freshly baked dish, but I was
rather hungry, and the smell... I hope you'll understand.

Eggplant Parmesan

2 eggplants

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large chopped onion
1 capsicum, chopped
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
(although fresh of each would be better, of course, and you'd use a greater quantity)
1 tsp salt
2 tins tomatoes in juice
squirt of tomato paste
1-2 tsp sugar
black pepper
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 c finely chopped parsley (optional)

mozarella cheese, to taste, finely sliced or grated (I leave this out, sadly - still dairy free)
possibly some pine nuts
parmesan cheese, to taste (perhaps 1/2 cup? I use a fake soy one which tastes surprisingly authentic)

Firstly do the eggplant.  Sliced them into about 1 cm slices and lay them out on trays or in roasting dishes, generously brushing both sides of each slice with olive oil as you go. Bake until tinged with golden brown or getting close to it (slight undercooking is not a problem - they will be cooked again).

While they're cooking, do the sauce. Heat olive oil, add onion, herbs and salt. Saute 8-10 minutes.
Add everything else except garlic and parsley. Simmer 20-30 minutes, then add garlic and parsley.

You can do the steps so far in advance.

Take a lasagne dish or similar and ladle some sauce into the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant slices, then add more sauce. Add a few pine nuts if you like. Arrange some mozarella on top of the sauce. Then, in Mollie Katzen's words, "repeat the layering until you run out of something or you run out of room, whichever comes first".

Top with grated parmesan and bake uncovered at 180oC for 30-40 minutes until bubbly around the edges and golden brown on top. Serve hot or warm.

Last week I poked a few meatballs into the mix to bake, too, and served the lot with pasta. Excellent.

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