Monday, May 2, 2011

Eggplant and Zucchini--What to do?

Betty Crocker and Jennifer Darling (editor of Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook) must be sisters or cousins at the very least. I sometimes find recipes that are nearly exact in both books. With two eggplants in my fridge and some zucchini that I needed to use I scrambled for a dish. I am always cognizant that my vegetarian friends at school sometimes get the short end of the stick (case in point: tomorrow I am bringing a Moose Stroganoff). I wanted to create something that they could enjoy today too and opted to leave out the meat. For those of you who can't live without it, I suggest a mild or sweet Italian sausage to be added to the sauce. Better Homes and Gardens 75th Anniversary Edition offered up two choices: Eggplant Parmigiana and Ratatouille. I like to think I am an adventurous person and can think out of the box and what is wrong with combining the two? I didn't want to fry the eggplant in bread crumbs as is traditional, so, on a tip from Kristen O. I simply drizzled them lightly in olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and broiled them on both sides to a nice golden brown. My good friend Heather C. who I love very much also is very fond of why shouldn't I add some of those and loads of basil, mushrooms and garlic to boot? The cheese selections are my own obsessions, because I always have a supply of unusual gourmet cheese on hand. Wolfgang Puck has sold me on the use of Fontina on pasta and pizza, I'll gladly pay the price for aged parmesano regianno cheese, and don't kid yourself! There is a difference in REAL mozzarella and the bagged shredded stuff.

So never mind Better Homes....I just did my own thing and am now paying for it because folks from school want the recipe. I'll try to recreate this dish to the best of my ability.

2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4"
1 jar Classico Tomato and Basil Sauce
1 lb. whole baby artichoke hearts, drained
2/3 cup finely grated Parmesano Reggiano Cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese, grated
1 cup chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Olive oil
1 lb. zucchini, sliced
3 TBSP Sherry
1/4 cup fresh basil, diced
1 lb. fresh mushrooms sliced
1 small can chopped black olives
salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup Italian-Style bread crumbs

Slice the eggplant into 1/4" slices. Toss or drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Broil in the oven (WATCH carefully or it will burn quickly) for about 4 minutes on each side or until nice and golden in color. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil to warm and add onion and garlic. Cook to clear (maybe 7 minutes) add zucchini and mushrooms cook to soften. Add 1 jar of Classico Tomato and Basil Sauce (or your own favorite), sherry, basil, black olives, artichoke hearts and salt and pepper.

To assemble:

Spray a deep baking dish with non-stick spray. Cover the bottom with 1/2 of the sliced, browned eggplant. Top with 1/2 of the sauce, 1/2 of the cheeses and 1/2 of the bread crumbs. Repeat the next layers.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 325 and bake for another 60 minutes.

Ideas to change up the recipe: Add sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, pinon nuts.

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