Friday, September 10, 2010

Meatless Month: Days 2 & 3

I called Mr. Hungry from Hannaford on Wednesday night to ask him if he had any dinner requests.  He's being a very game sport for this Meatless Month, and I'm glad.  I thought he'd be more reluctant than he was.  So when he asked me to make Eggplant Parmesan, despite having never made it before, I agreed.

Eggplant is not my favorite vegetable.  But I do like it very thinly sliced, breaded, and fried.  I've yet to discover a food that doesn't benefit from this treatment.  How many eggplants does it take to feed two people?  I really didn't know, so I bought two locally grown ones that were on the small side, but ended up only using one.

I didn't quite realize what I had gotten myself into.  Eggplant Parmesan is a labor intensive dish.  I sliced and salted the eggplant to drain some of the water off as I've heard this helps them fry and lessens bitterness.  I don't know if either of these things are true, but there was quite a bit of water in the bowl after they drained for a half hour.  I then did a flour dredge, dipped the slices in beaten egg, and then coated them in a breadcrumb, Parmesan, panko mix and put the slices in hot vegetable oil.

I had a half dozen big tomatoes from my parents' garden that needed to be used soon, so I diced them and added them to a saucepan with some olive oil and a minced clove of garlic and let it gently simmer while the eggplant fried.  Later I tossed in some homegrown basil to finish it.

So once all the eggplant was fried and excess oil was blotted, I layered the sauce, then the eggplant in a baking dish and topped the whole deal with slices of fresh mozzarella.  I love the ultra whiteness and soft texture of fresh mozzarella, and it seemed a good partner to eggplant to me.  Everything baked for about a half hour - just until the cheese melted.  Alongside the eggplant we had spaghetti and a green salad.

This looks quite greasy in the photo, but I can assure you it didn't seem overly so.  Here's the whole giant pan of eggplant after baking.  Please ignore the various items behind the baking dish:

I didn't follow any recipe, but this turned out so delicious, and as you can see, one eggplant made a lot of food.  We had this for dinner last night as well, with a fresh batch of spaghetti.  This is a definite make-again dish, meatless month or otherwise. 

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