Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Your Questions Answered - EGGPLANT

Not only do I think eggplant is one of the most beautiful vegetables ever, I think it is real tasty too!  So when reader, Kristi, emailed us asking us what she should do with her eggplant, I knew just the recipe (or two or three) for her!

One thing I would like to make note of is everything I read on the internet about eggplant tells you to eat the eggplant as fresh as possible (like within 2 or 4 days!).  They say it doesn't even hold up well in the refrigerator.  So, next time you get an eggplant in your basket, I recommend using it by Monday night!

One of my favorite things to get when I go to an Italian restaurant is Eggplant Parmigiana.   So here is a recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana that I have adapted from two different recipes.  And let me just warn you right now . . . this sauce is knock your socks off good!  Yum, yum!!! Just thinking about this recipe makes me want to make it RIGHT NOW.

Eggplant Parmigiana and Italian Pasta Sauce

Ingredients for Eggplant:
1-2 fresh eggplants (depends on the size . . . they come in small to extra, extra large!)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups dry seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil

Directions for Eggplant:
Cut eggplant into 1/4" to 1/2" circular slices.  Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant with a little salt and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so (Eggplant has a lot of water in it...the salt helps soak up some of the moisture so it won't be soggy when fried).

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on dinner plate.  On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water.  On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan.  Coat the sliced eggplant on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 3 or 4 eggplant slices on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until browned.  Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the eggplant slices.

Ingredients for Italian Pasta Sauce:
4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (or to taste)
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can Hunt's tomato sauce
Fresh basil leaves (you can use dried too, just use less)

Directions for Italian Pasta Sauce:
Start with olive oil in a cold saucepan.  Add minced garlic to the cold oil.  Slowly bring temperature up to medium.  Be very careful not to let the garlic brown.  Add red pepper flakes if desired.  Add the can of tomato sauce and stir.  Add the can of diced tomato (I like to run the diced tomato through and food processor or blender really quickly to make it sort of half pureed.  If you like the sauce a bit chunkier, you can omit this step).  Salt and pepper to taste.  Once heated through, add the fresh basil (as little or as much as you'd like!  I like a lot!)

Next, layer 1/4 of the Italian Pasta sauce in the bottom of a greased, large cookie sheet.  Layer half of the eggplant and 1/3 of the Mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers two more times. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Serve over your choice of pasta, adding the remaining Italian Sauce to the pasta.  ENJOY!!!

Recipe sources:  The recipe for the eggplant is adapted from this recipe which is a favorite among us sisters.  And the Italian Pasta Sauce recipe was given to me by one of my very dearest friends, who received it from her cousin who lived in Italy for two years.

Eggplant Parmigiana is a more traditional recipe.  So, if you are looking for something a little different and you are feeling a little more adventurous, give this Pakistani Eggplant recipe a try.  I've never tried it, but I think it sounds pretty good.  And the my friend who gave me the recipe has never cooked a gross thing in her life!

Pakistani Eggplant

2 cups eggplant, sauted with a little salt in olive oil
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 to 1 tsp cumin powder

Fry mustard seed, garlic, onions, curry leaves, turmeric and cumin powder until toasted.  Mix into yogurt and pour over eggplant.  Serve and enjoy!

Recipe source:  Given to me by one of our family's very best friends who is quite possibly the most amazing cook I've ever known.  It was given to her by one of her Phillipino friends.

***And one last thing I'd like to say about eggplant . . .
This website has a ton more great and delicious sounding eggplant recipes.  I think I'll give the Crock Pot Sausage, Eggplant and Tomato Casserole recipe a try for my sausage-lovin' husband.  And this website tells you how to freeze your eggplant if you don't plan to use it right away.

I hope that is helpful, Kristi!  Let us know what you try and how liked it.  Thanks for your email!



HeidiB said...

I made this eggplant parmesan last night and it was amazing!!!! The pasta sauce was out of this world. My 1, 3 and 6-year olds all loved the eggplant. Thank you for sharing this!

Kristi said...

Just realized I never commented about how great this eggplant parmesan recipe is. This is my new go-to tomato sauce and I LOVE IT. Thanks so much!

Janet Whitesell said...

I made the Pakistani Eggplant today, and it was very good. I would definitely make it again if I had an eggplant to use up. I do not think that eggplant has a great deal of flavor of its own, but the overall dish is delicious!