Thursday, July 26, 2007

Eggplant Parmesan with homemade Spinach & Mushroom Tomato Sauce

Eggplant Parmesan is a tasty little dish. Moderately healthy and meat-free, this dish take a bit of work but is worth it. I decided to make my own tomato sauce, just to make it more work.

Prepare Tomato Sauce:
-Dice some tomatoes (I used 2), as well as some onion, garlic, mushroom (I used portabella) and shred some spinach
-In a pot or wok, sautée garlic and onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes-Add mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes
-Add spinach and cook until wilted-Throw in some salt, pepper, basil (fresh or dry if you have it, I didn't!)
-Add diced tomatoes and 1 can of crushed, peeled tomatoes, reduce heat-Cook for about 25 minutes, stirring constantly, until most of the tomato is reduced-Puree-Mix in cheese if you'd like (I used cream cheese to see how it'd be, but I think something like parmesan or even feta would be good)
*note: it pains me to say this, but my sauce was not that great. I was not pleased. The cheese helped a lot, as did adding some more salt, sage, and chives, and cooking longer to reduce it further, eventually it got alright... okay enough for the parmesan

Prepare Eggplant:
-Preheat oven to 350F
-Peel the eggplant and cut into slices lengthwise, so you get around 4-5 slices per eggplant-Put salt on the surfaces, rub it in, and put it in the fridge for an hour (this sweats the eggplant and reduces the bitterness. It's optional but getting a big bite of bitter eggplant is unpleasant)
-Rinse the eggplants and thoroughly dry them
-Beat 1-2 eggs (1 egg per eggplant)
-Prepare batter mixture: breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan and dried basil is ideal. I had none so I used flour-Lay eggplants in egg, then breadcrumbs (on both sides) and set on an oven pan
-Meanwhile, slice cheese. I used a mixture of fresh mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar. I also had some grated parmesan
-Optional: dice some broccoli. I find that broccoli works amazingly in this dish and so I throw it in
-Put pan in oven for about 5-10 minutes, until starts to crisp, and then flip over and another 5-10 minutes-Alternatively, you can fry the eggplant... this is a bit easier but less healthy, so do as you wish
-Layer eggplant in casserole/any deep oven-proof dish as such: eggplant (+ broccoli), sauce, cheese,eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese, with the parmesan on the topmost layer, if you have fresh basil, you can put that on top too-Put in oven for about 25 minutes, or until top is bubblyTips:
-Enjoy with a nice wine and salad. I made a simple lettuce, lime juice, olive oil, and salt salad and roasted some pumpkin
-I'm pretty sure this exact recipe would work for chicken, veal, or even plain lasagna. Feel free to add any vegetables that you like in the mix, like (roasted) pepper or sun-dried tomatoes or somethingUpdate: I made essentially the same thing with chicken. I sliced chicken breast halfway through (so less wide) and baked on each side for ~15 minutes (note, it shouldn't look "done" in the way fried chicken works one both sides, as that dries it out... when you take it out it should be moist and a tiny bit pink)The ones in the top rack are good, the ones in the bottom were too cooked!

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