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.

 

 

Herbs to the Rescue

Chives and Oregano in my garden. They both come back year after year with total neglect from me (other than cutting back the oregano each winter).

Herbs are always at or near the top of the home gardening lists that tell you what things are most economical to grow yourself, i.e. where your gardening efforts will result in the most savings in your grocery budget. Those bunches of herbs in plastic clamshells are expensive and rarely very fresh.

I started with a few parsley starts about 8 years ago. I let a few go to seed every year (they are biennials though so they have two seasons before the go to seed) which keeps me in new seedlings so I always have plenty of parsley–one of the most versatile herbs.

In addition to saving $$ many any of them grow with the most minimal care and attention and some do well from seed so your up-front costs are truly minimal. They can grow in pots on your window sill, deck, porch, fire escape. . . and of course in any free spot in the ground. And they are delicious, nutritious and can make most any staple, from eggs, to grains, beans, veggies and meats, sing.

Having just returned from a trip my refrigerator was fairly bare this morning and I needed to make lunch for my husband to take to work and for myself at home. And since I am a bit bean-crazed or as a neighbor noted yesterday, the bean queen, I was able to pull together a decent lunch thanks to the parsley and oregano in the backyard. I had thawed a container of white beans when I returned yesterday so I had those. I chopped up a few handfuls of parsley and oregano, added some lemon zest, juice, chili flakes, olive oil, and salt and pepper. I mixed that with the beans and filled some whole wheat tortillas with that on a bed of grated sharp cheddar.

Quesadilla with white beans, herbs and sharp cheddar, aka impromptu, filling lunch.

I do realize I’ve been emphasizing greens and beans of one sort or another here for a while but in this in-between season of sorts, before the summer squash and tomatoes, beans, peppers and corn surface, they’ve been keeping me good company.

I’ve also been working on an upcoming class on salad rolls that is one of the most fantastic uses of herbs I know. Rather than the sideshow, they are the main attraction in salad rolls, even edging out that peanut sauce. There’s still plenty of room in that class if you’re interested in learning how to make this simple delicacy.

Mint might be the most prolific herb and is best grown in a pot since it can take over any garden. Mint features prominently in the upcoming Salad Roll class on June 25th.

The herbs I grow and love to cook with most are: parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, mint, sage, tarragon and rosemary (actually  my neighbor has the giant rosemary bush) and cilantro, though it bolts easily and has a shorter season than the rest and you have to keep seeding it so it’s actually probably easier to buy.

Happy Cooking and Eating!