21 January 2010

Eggplant Bake

It started at the grocery store with a sideways glance at their reduced produce racks. Are any of you impulse grocery shoppers like me? Nah. Probably not. You all budget and menu plan and ONLY buy what you need for this week's meals. So you won't understand. I do make a list, mind you, it's just that whenever I get to the store, I find that my list was incomplete. Yes, last week I had forgotten to write on my list "one slightly-marred eggplant". But I found I needed it. Once I got to the store.

Next time, I won't forget. Because I found a great, easy, tasty way to cook up that forty-nine cents of slightly-damaged goodness. Searching the internet (I wonder how many times that phrase appears on this blog) I came across this. Eggplant cut into rounds, fried in a little olive oil, stacked in ramekins with tomato sauce, and baked.

Of course, I don't have ramekins. And I didn't exactly follow Tasty Palettes' way of making sauce, but it was pretty close, and we were pretty thrilled with the results.

(Just FYI: the smell of pumpkin cake is filling the house, and I'm about to remove some french bread from the oven too. I'm in cold & sleety-evening heaven!)

Improvised Eggplant Bake

olive oil for sauteing
about 1/3 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup crushed tomatoes
herbs (I put in a frozen basil cube I made in my ice-cube trays this summer)
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and saute onions and garlic. Add wine and cook a few minutes. Stir in tomatoes and herbs. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat on low and simmer while you fry the eggplant.

1 - 2 large eggplant, sliced thin (1/4-1/2 inch)
olive oil for frying
lemon juice

Instructions: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add enough eggplant to cover the bottom of the skillet, turning quickly as they will soak up as much oil on one side as you've put in the skillet. Fry on both sides until beginning to turn brown. Remove and hit eggplants with a spritz of lemon (I used a pastry brush to swab lemon on them since I didn't have any fruit on hand. Heat more oil and repeat until all slices are fried.

Putting it all together: Tasty Palettes suggests doing this in ramekins or a casserole. Basically, you want to spoon some of your sauce into the bottom of your baking dish, and then arrange layers of eggplant slices with the rest of the sauce, ending with more sauce on top. I baked mine in two small clay dishes at 350F for about 15 minutes because of a time constraint. It would probably be better to leave them in up to 30 minutes for more flavor-melding. If you like, add some parmesan cheese to the top close to the end of cooking time. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before serving. We ate ours with extra-virgin olive oil toasts and a spinach side salad. If you want to do it "right" just go to the other website and follow her instructions!

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