Instead of zucchini coming out of my ears, this summer’s weekly veggie share has brought me an over-abundance of aubergines. Purple, white, yellow, green and multi-colored! A virtual rainbow of eggplants in all shapes and sizes.
But what to do with them all. Frying was an obvious choice, especially with the very ripe Heirloom and Jersey tomatoes that were going to make a lovely sauce. But that awkwardly shaped purple variety seemed perfect for stuffing. So I ended up with eggplant two ways to use with my sauce. Both equally delicious and easier than it looks.
Here’s what you do. First make the sauce:
2 lbs of fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of onion, finely chopped
Several sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
3-5 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper
1/4 cup of red wine
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over low heat for 2 minutes. Add in the butter, then the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, pepper and red pepper. Stir in the parsley and basil. Let come to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, add in the wine and continuing cooking, stirring occasionally for at least half an hour, preferably an hour. Taste and add more seasoning as desired. The longer you cook this, the more the tomatoes will cook down and the better it will be. It tastes even more delicious the next day. [Note: you can peel and seed the tomatoes if you prefer, but this sauce is meant to be quick and hassle free, so it’s not required.]
After the sauce is made, now you’re ready to prep your eggplant.
Fried Eggplant Parm
2-4 small to medium eggplants
1/3 cup of potato starch
1/3 cup of Wondra
1 cup of corn oil
1 cup of shredded mozzarella
Slice the eggplant into thin slices. Sprinkle with salt and let stand for about half an hour to remove the water so they don’t get soggy when fried. (I like to flip them over and drain the water out about half way through.)
Mix together potato starch and Wondra in a pie plate or something that can be used for dredging the eggplant. (If you need more of the mixture, just add it in equal parts.)
Pat the eggplant dry and dredge in the starch mixture.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high until hot. Then carefully drop in the eggplant slices in batches so as not to overcrowd. Let cook for about 5 minutes, then remove and drain on a paper towel. This will result in lightly breaded, crisp slices that will not look burnt.
When ready to assemble, top the slices with the marinara and sprinkles of shredded mozzarella.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve on a toasty roll, over pasta, with salad or eat alone.
Or if you aren’t in the frying mood…you can stuff the eggplant.
1 large eggplant (purple Italian variety, preferred)
1 lb of Italian sausage
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1/3 cup of parm
Finely ground black pepper
1/4 cup of onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic , minced
1 small bell or jalapeno pepper, if desired, finely chopped
1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
Slice the large eggplant in half. Hollow out the shell with a knife and reserve a cup of the insides. (You can add more eggplant if you prefer or save the rest for another use. Or if you want to keep this vegetarian, omit the sausage and just use the eggplant with some more bell peppers.) Chop the eggplant into little chunks and place in a medium bowl. Drizzle some olive oil in the shell, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with a little parm too.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Crumble the sausage and brown for 2 minutes. Add in the chopped onions and pepper, if using, and a clove of minced garlic. Cook over medium heat until browned through. Drain. Add the sausage mixture to the reserved eggplant. Mix thoroughly. Add the parm, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Stuff the shells with the mixture.
Top with some sauce.
Sprinkle with more parm and mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and the eggplant shell is roasted. Serve with additional marinara sauce, bread and a simple salad for some color.
To drink: a lovely Italian red of course!
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