The Farmers Market - especially if you live in California - is the one place to find fruits and veggies that have traveled less than 30 minutes to get to you and where you can ask the farmer about their growing methods. Don't know what to ask? Ask about what crops they grow, their pest management techniques, how they fertilize... heck! Ask what he likes to make with the food he grows! Maybe it's eggplant parmesan.
Michael Pollan says, "Shake the hand that feeds you."
I say: Even if that hand feeds you eggplant.
This stuff is good. Really good. Cheese-y, basil-y, garlic-y good and it only takes about and hour to make, including baking time. Also - freezes like a champ.
One more quick note: This is a really easy "He eats meat, I don't" meal. Same process. Same basic ingredients. Two dishes.
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil*
- 10 Large, Ripe Roma Tomatoes
- 1 Small Yellow onion, diced
- 3 Large Cloves Garlic, smashed (not minced)
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Bunch Basil
- 1 Large Purple Eggplant AND/OR
- 2 Large Free-Range Organic Chicken Breasts*
- 1 Small Loaf Day-Old Bread, ground into crumbs*
- 2 eggs (or 1/4 c Soy Milk for vegan recipe)
- 1/3 C Mozzarella Cheese (Daiya makes a great vegan cheese)*
- 1/4 C Parmesan Cheese (Omit for vegan)*
*May need to hit the grocery for these. We have a cheese guy and a meat guy... some markets don't
1. Blanch and peel your tomatoes (How to Peel a Tomato), set aside
2. In a large pot, heat olive oil and add diced onion, then add your smashed garlic cloves. Saute until onions are soft.
3. In a blender, place tomatoes, about 3/4 of your bunch of basil, salt and your onion/oil/garlic mixture. Puree. Then pour back into the pot, turn heat to low and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.
4. While your sauce simmers, prep your eggplant by slicing into rounds 1/2 inch thick. Dip the eggplant in the beaten egg, then dredge in breadcrumbs. ((If you are making chicken, pound the breasts until they are about 1/2 inch thick. Batter and dredge the pieces once your eggplant is done.)
*NOTE: always work vegetables-to-meat when you're making double meals like this. Saves on cutting boards, pans and keeps you safe.
5. On a non-stick skillet, cook your eggplant for 3-4 minutes each side. (Then cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes each side. If you have a large, non-stick griddle, you can do this at the same time.)
6. Prepare a casserole dish with olive oil or cooking spray. Place the eggplant rounds in one layer on the bottom of the pan. (Do the same with the chicken in a 2nd dish.)
7. Using a ladle, pour sauce over the breaded pieces until they are covered. Then top with cheeses and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
8. Serve with a side salad of spinach topped with a little balsamic vinegar, olive oil and shaved parmesan!
Seriously - even if you think you don't like eggplant, this dish rocks. Fresh basil and garlic? What could go wrong!?