Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DIYS Gardening: Eggplant
I'm growing two type of eggplants: Purple Blaze (Shown here) and Little Fingers. I avoided eggplant in the grocery store, but I don't know why. Maybe it's because the only purple foods I've eaten are grapes and blueberries, so a purple vegetable puts me out of sorts. However my eggplants have been growing like gangbuster! So what to do? Eat them! I heard of Eggplant Parmesan in every cookbook I've ever had, so why not give it a whirl.

Eggplant is a bit of an annoy vegetable, which is probably why people avoid it. The eggplant taste great, but you must prepare it properly. Eggplant needs to be drain of excess water before you can cook it. Usually this mean slicing the eggplant and putting it into a colander in between layers of kosher salt for 2 hours. That what makes most recipes for eggplant stretch past the three hour mark. After drain my eggplant, I found it helpful to give the eggplant a good rinse to get rid of the extra salt. Then press the eggplant dry between paper towels. When your eggplant is dry and rubbery (Not the word I want but it fits, and the eggplant taste so much better than rubber), you are ready to cook.

I find that eggplant chips battered and fried like onion rings can be quite yummy.

Eggplant Parmesan

* 2 lbs (about 2 large) eggplants
* Kosher salt
* 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
* 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
* Olive oil
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
* 4 large eggs, beaten
* 1 1/2 lbs of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
* 1 cup grated high quality Parmesan cheese
* 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves


1 Cut eggplants lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange one layer in the bottom of a large colander and sprinkle evenly with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant, salting, until all eggplant is in the colander. Weigh down the slices with a couple of plates and let drain for 2 hours. The purpose of this step is to have the eggplant release some of its moisture before cooking.

2 While the eggplant is draining, prepare tomato sauce. Combine tomatoes, garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to tasted and set aside.

3 When eggplant has drained, press down on it to remove excess water, wipe off the excess salt, and lay the slices out on paper towels to remove all the moisture. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine flour and breadcrumbs. Mix well. Pour beaten eggs into another wide shallow bowl. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat, and pour in a a half inch of olive oil. When oil is shimmering, dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour mixture, then in the beaten egg. Working in batches, slide coated eggplant into hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

4 Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bottom of a 10x15 inch glass baking dish, spread 1 cup of tomato sauce. Top with one third of the eggplant slices. Top eggplant with half of the mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with one third of the Parmesan and half of the basil leaves.

5 Make a second layer of eggplant slices, topped by 1 cup of sauce, remaining mozzarella, half the remaining Parmesan, and all of the remaining basil. Add remaining eggplant, and top with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmesan.

6 Bake until cheese has melted and the top is slightly brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.

Recipe courtesy of Simply Recipes

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