When you Start Thinking About Lunch at 10am . . .

For once I was grateful that my son dislikes (well, hates!) eggplant. I got all the leftovers to myself today at lunch-time (yes it may have been an early-ish lunch).

 

I made my first Eggplant Parmesan of the summer last night. I didn’t start cooking until 6:05pm and we had dinner at 7pm and the last half hour of that the dish was in the oven. So it can be done on a weeknight!

If you like eggplant but no one else in your family days, still make it. Leftovers are so good! And you may even convert a few doubters. . .

 

Weeknight Eggplant Parmesan

 

First of all I don’t salt and drain eggplant. I used to but don’t think it made a big difference especially with nice fresh eggplant. In this preparation it also doesn’t seem to need lots of oil and cooks up perfectly in just a tablespoon of oil. The dish is so flavorful and not at all heavy like some versions I’ve eaten (and enjoyed!) over the years.

 

Serves 4-6

 

2 large globe eggplants, sliced into ¼ – 1/3 –inch slices lengthwise or into rounds

Olive oil

Salt

3 generous cups tomato sauce (recipe below, or your favorite version) heated up

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped basil

2 cups (or more) grated Parmesan or aged Asiago (less expensive & still delicious alternative)

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the largest skillet you have over medium-high heat. Add eggplant slices in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a few minutes and when the underside is nicely browning in places, flip and cook for a few more minutes until the slices are tender (but not falling apart) and browned. Remove from pan, add another tablespoon oil and repeat with remaining slices.

 

Heat up the tomato sauce with the minced garlic and basil, or just stir in cold if you’re in a hurry and you made the sauce earlier. Spread just a little tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 13” baking dish (or something similar), cover with a layer of eggplant and spread a thin layer of sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, ending with either eggplant and cheese or sauce and cheese.

 

Bake for 25 minutes or so until everything is bubbling and the cheese is browning on top. You can run it under the broiler for a few minutes if you want more color. Serve hot or warm.

 

Simplest Tomato Sauce

 

Tomatoes, olive oil, salt. That’s it. When the tomatoes are good it’s honestly all you need. And I make sauce with slicer and heirloom tomatoes, not just sauce types, all the time. It takes a little longer to cook down because they’re so juicy but with a little patience and high heat it’s pretty quick too.

 

Olive oil

2 lb +/- fresh tomatoes, diced (I don’t usually bother pealing and seeding them)

Salt

A little butter, to finish (optional)

 

Coat the bottom of a wide skillet with olive oil. Heat over high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes and a few pinches salt. Stir well, turn down to medium high and simmer, stirring often, until sauce thickens to your liking. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt and a tablespoon or two of butter, especially if the sauce is quite acidic.  Butter is THE perfecter of tomato sauce. Serve over spaghetti with Parmesan and fresh basil.

One Eggplant, Two Tomatoes, Handful of Basil, a Little Parmesan

eggplant tomato rounds plated

The CSA share comes every Tuesday evening which means Tuesday dinner is the use-up-last-week’s share night. Tonight that meant one lovely globe eggplant and two tomatoes. Time was short so I browned eggplant rounds in the cast iron pan, topped them with whole basil leaves, slices of tomato, salt and olive oil and broiled them until the tomatoes softened and started bubbling, then I topped them with grated Parmesan and passed them under the broiler for another minute or two.

It’s only a slight stretch to say that we got individual eggplant Parmesan rounds in a matter of 15 minutes. It’s a keeper in any case. I’m sure a mix of oregano and basil would be good too and of course a more typical preparation would have used thick slices of mozzarella but I loved this version.

Happy Summer!

P.S.  I just added my 600th recipe to my Seasonal Recipe Collection and am proud of what this resource has grown in to. Subscribe if you’d like to have access to all these recipes and tips and ideas to keep your table full of home-cooked goodness all year long.

eggplant tomato basil rounds

Serves 4

1 medium globe eggplant (save a few for garnish)
2-3 medium-large slicing tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices, on the equator
1 cup basil leaves
Salt
Olive oil
1/3 – 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Turn on the broiler

Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the rounds, sprinkled with salt over high heat until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes for the first a bit less for the second side. Put the browned rounds on a baking sheet.

Top each round with a few basil leaves, then a slice of tomato, a sprinkle of salt and drizzle of olive oil.  Set the pan under the broiler and broil until the tomatoes have softened and are bubbling a little. Remove from the oven and divide the Parmesan between all the rounds. Return to the broiler for another minute or two until melted and browning. Garnish with chopped basil and serve.