Monday, August 25, 2008


(cranky voice coming from the direction of the kitchen) "Hey. Hey! Remember ME? I'm the eggplant that you HAD to buy even though nobody likes me but you! Well, sistah, get cooking 'cause I ain't getting any prettier sitting here on the counter looking at you looking at me. The boys are gone to a Braves game and it's just you and me and the Little One who's happy as a clam eating Kraft Mac n Cheese with hot dogs cut up in it. A complete No Risk situation. What are you waiting for? Get on with it, girl!"

Sigh. So here I go with the eggplant. I love eggplant. Always have. I loved it even more when I got the full scoop on it on Food Network. Ah, I remember like it was yesterday.... (insert sparkly fade out to black here) ... January 2002: my very first Good Eats episode. DH went out to the store for something one evening and I actually got to sneak in and watch TV, fiendishly changing the channel from some blah blah talking head political blah blah blah station to Food Network. I found Good Eats. Alton was finessing eggplants. I was hooked at first sight. MacGyver meets Julia Child meets Einstein meets Thomas Dolby. le sigh. When my unwitting DH returned, there I am, on the sofa, in his spot, holding the remote and looking completely enthralled but in a semi-crazed way. Excitedly, I blurted out "Did you know that there are Boy eggplants and Girl eggplants and that you can tell the difference between them?" Wordlessly, and never taking his eyes off me, he slowly backed out of the room. I don't think he's ever left the house at night since. That'll teach ya. Anyway, I'll save my AB ramblings for other posts.

No purging the eggplant (with salt) tonight, as I'm short on time so I'm pretty sure I need another tactic in order to salvage this poor pod. I read on RecipeZaar or somewhere (Sorry, I'll post the link when I find it again) about preparing eggplant without salting or frying the heck out of it in greasy oil. I decided to try it since I didn't have anyone to ruin make this for but me. It turned out ok. Yeah, just ok. I used premade sauce since I didn't have any homemade stashed in the freezer. I think that the jarred stuff was too... bright? Too young? Is that a valid description? When I think of eggplant parm, I think deep, rich and simmered with melded flavors and all gooey with cheese. This was, well, not that. It was bright and cheerful. Good qualities in girl scouts, sunflowers and kindergarten teachers, but not eggplant parm. I am not daunted though as I will go back to Square One and make my own sauce or follow AB's recipe for Eggplant Pasta the next time a lone eggplant talks it's way into my cart, as the basic prep technique here was surprisingly successful but the sauce blew it. (Note: next day, The Messy One had a bite and sort of liked it. Of course he did. Like Mikey, he eats almost everything. He is not however, like THAT Mikey - yet.)

(Baked) Eggplant Parmesan

1 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1 lg Eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2" rounds
1 c Bread crumbs

Mayonnaise for coating
1 1/2 c Tomato sauce, (homemade is best)
8 oz Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425. Brush both sides of the eggplant rounds with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Combine 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs in a shallow pan, and press the eggplant slices into it, both sides, pressing firmly to be sure the crumbs adhere well. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray (or on a silicone mat) and bake for 10 minutes, flip to other side and bake for another 10 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven, take slices and lay them in a 9x13 casserole dish lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Overlap them so the whole bottom is covered. Add tomato sauce, top with mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan cheese. Lower heat and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until cheese melts.

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