The mini jaunt fit nicely into our recent obsession with making dishes from the
The week before, however, it was my turn to cook. I saw some lovely eggplants at the local specialty foods market and I decided to make eggplant parmesan with mushrooms.
Eggplants were first grown in
Eggplants contain nasunin, an antioxidant known to protect the fats in brain cells from free radical damage (maybe biology major younger daughter can explain this to me...it has something to do with unpaired electrons), and, as all vitamin commercials remind us, antioxidants may help to promote graceful aging.
I wonder if there a cookbook dedicated to eggplant preparation.
Eggplant is a fruit closely related to the tomato and that perhaps explains why the two pair so well together. Eaten raw, the eggplant is bitter but relatively spongy so it absorbs the flavors of recipe companion ingredients nicely. To reduce the bitterness, some suggest salting, draining and rinsing prior to cooking. I think this method flattens the taste of the eggplant and personally, I like to simply slice it thinly, dredge it in flour, eggs then bread crumbs and sauté until brown on both sides prior to baking. To make the sauce, I used a can of San Marzano tomatoes -- they have less seeds -- and a few fresh tomatoes from Irish Guy’s garden.
Eggplant Parmesan with Mushrooms
About 2 tablespoons olive oil½ sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
A few turns of sea salt in a salt grinder
1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1 tablespoon of fresh marjoram or oregano
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
¼ - ½ cup of water
Splash of red wine vinegar
1 large eggplant
3 cups panko bread crumbs
About 2 cups of flour
½ cup olive oil
1 8 oz container of sliced mushrooms
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
To make the simple tomato sauce, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 swirls of the pan of olive oil and add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Swirl is such a happy word, don’t you think? Sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and their juices and the fresh tomatoes, breaking them up as they cook with a wooden spoon. Add some water if the mixture appears too thick. Add the salt, brown sugar, marjoram or oregano and basil and bring to a boil. Add a splash of wine vinegar… this boosts the flavors! Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes.
To prepare the eggplant, peel the eggplant and slice into thin pieces, about ¼”. Dredge the slices in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs and sauté until lightly browned on both sides. In a large casserole dish, add a layer of the sauce, then a layer of browned eggplant, some sliced mushrooms, then some of the cheeses and repeat until all the ingredients are gone. Bake at 375° for 40-45 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling. Serve with buttered noodles or rice.