eggplant parmesan

The Murphy's' law of gardening: The thing you plant that you don't really care about because maybe it was a planted on a whim (or in this case because of the beautiful plum color) or just as a fun bonus, is going to be the thing that does the best in your garden. While the thing you care about the most (the butternut squash) falls to squash bugs.

Okay maybe this is not always true, but it was for me this year. In reality, this has been the best growing year for me. thus far. (Though, let's be real this only the 3rd year of gardening for me and that counts the year that I didn't have a yard and moved three times leaving behind a strawberry bed to its ultimate death and carrying around a potted tomato plant that never had enough space to actually do anything. So, undoubtedly, this year has been better because I actually have soil to use).

I am happy about my garden's success (even if I wish I could save my butternut squash that dies a little each day). I am surprised by it even. That is definitely the case for my eggplant. It is massive and doing so good despite the heat, humidity and sudden surge of water.

And thus I am back with the mid-summer problem. What does one do with eggplant? I nominate it for the weirdest vegetable. They are like beautiful queens with weird personalities.

Actually weird amounts of eggplants isn't the problem right now. That will come later. Right now, I go through the eggplant motions: Eggplant parmesan and baba ganoush.

The other week, I got around to trying the eggplant parmesan recipe in my new Moosewood Cookbook.


This dish is delicious and my favorite eggplant parmesan I've made to date. It also probably helped that the whole culinary experience that evening was ideal. We ate outside on the door table I gained after the Baker's moved. The weather was perfect. And to top it all off, most of my meal was local and homemade. We made the pasta with local eggs. I made the tomato sauce from canned tomatoes from my housemates's mom. The eggplant and the basil were from my garden. The breadcrumbs we used to coat the eggplant were homemade from some bread I had made the previous week. We rounded off the meal with my first ever cantaloupe from my garden. If I had made the ricotta and mozzarella cheese, this meal would've been one of my proudest culinary moments. (Although, it is still pretty high up there).

This is why I garden. This is why my hands dry out and callus. This is why I spent hours smashing squash bugs between my fingers; The food, the friends and the culinary adventures that help me leave a local life. It helps me become my most authentic self.

Unfortunately, after spending a long time in the kitchen the last thing I remember to do is take photos. So this blurry instagram will have to do for now... 
Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices
4 eggs (or egg whites, if you are wanting to keep this recipe lean)
1/4 t salt  
2+ cups bread crumbs (more if your bread crumbs are homemade and not as fine as store bought)
1/3 c finely grated parmesan cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 T fresh basil
3 1/2 c Tomato Wine Sauce*
1 c nonfat ricotta cheese
2 c mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350

Slice eggplant and set aside. Find a bowl in which the eggplant rounds can lie flat and lightly beat eggs and salt in it. In another large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic and basil.

Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mix, then dredge them in the bread crumb mix to coat both sides evenly. Place the breaded slices on a prepared baking sheet. bake for about 20 minutes on each side or until tender and easily pierce with a fork.

Spread about half of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 8x12-inch glass dish (greased). Layer about half of the eggplant slices on top of the sauce. Spread all of the ricotta cheese evenly on the eggplant and top with about 1 1/2 c mozzarella. Use the rest of the eggplant slices for a second layer. Cover them with the remaining sauce and any extra bread crumbs. Sprinkle the top with the finial 1/2 cup mozzarella and bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

*Tomato Wine Sauce

2 t olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t salt
2 t ground fennel (optional)
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried basil
1/3 c red wine
3 c undrained canned tomatoes (28-oz can)
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic, sprinkle with the salt, cover, and sauté on very low for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are beginning to soften. Add the spices and cook for a another minute.Pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Whirl the tomatoes in a blended until just pureed and add to the pan. Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.