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.