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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan

Make Do

Having been around some of the best cooks (in my opinion) and having the privilege to be able to watch in admiration as they make the most delicious plates of Italian cuisine, has helped me become a better cook.

One of the things I do love about Italian cooks is, they use what they have and not only make do but, make it mouthwatering good.

This recipe is dedicated to all the wonderful cooks that have brought me to the point I am and also, instilling in me to never stop watching and learning.

Ingredients

2 large eggplants 

1/3 cup olive oil (you might need a bit more or, less)

1 1/3 cups grated parmesan


Vegetable broth 

3 cups water
2 carrots
1 onion
5 green onion tops
1/4 red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

2 cups cottage cheese (I use small curd)
1/2 cup romano cheese
5 green onions
2 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Tomato Sauce

1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounce can)
1 cup diced tomatoes ( you can use can or fresh)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 carrots diced
2 (heaping) tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

I use the tops of the 5 green onions and just throw them in my broth pot.  I only use half the broth for this recipe, by all means, put the rest in the fridge for another night.


Easy As 1, 2, 3

Place your water in a medium size sauce pan. No need in cutting up the green onion tops and cut your onion in half and add to the pot

Grate two carrots straight into the pot.  Add red bell pepper and cracked black pepper, bring to a boil.

When your broth comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium high heat. 

Cook for 30 minutes. You should have about 1 cup of broth left over.  All ovens are different, you might have to cook it a bit longer so it will reduce enough.  You are intensifying the flavors.

When your 30 minutes are up, add your salt and mix. 

Drain your brother through a strainer, while catching the broth in a bowl and set aside.


Fill'er up Please

 Go ahead and make your filling.

Place your cottage cheese into a mesh strainer. Take a fork and press out as much liquid as you can. 

Dice your green onions and saute on medium heat for 2 minutes. Until they become soft.

Grate your romano cheese and while you are grating. Why not grate the parmesan you will be needing later on in the recipe.

In a medium mixing bowl add the cottage cheese, green onions, romano cheese and cracked black pepper. Mix well.

Taste and then add your salt, it might take a bit more or less of salt. As romano cheese will differ and some are more salty than others. 

Then add the egg yolks, mix well, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.


Filling A bit Saucy

I find it is best to have all your ingredients ready to go at this point.

Dice up your carrots and cut your red bell pepper into big chunks. 

Set them on the stove, with your broth, Ready to go.

In a medium size sauce pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your pan, turn your burner on medium high heat.

Add your tomato paste to your pan and cook for 2 minutes.  Stirring the tomato paste the whole time, pressing the tomato paste with the back of a wooden spoon.


More Sauce Please


Add bell pepper, carrots and red pepper flakes to the tomato paste and continue cooking for 2 minutes, on medium heat.

Add your vegetable broth and Italian herbs to the pan and cook on high for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, add your crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and honey. 

Bring back to a boil then turn your stove down to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour. 

Make sure you stir your sauce every now and then, so your sauce will not scorch. 

When your hour is up, add your salt and mix well. Set aside.


Fry: Not!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

I have made many eggplant parmesan casseroles and I find that after I did completed the step they wanted me to and most of the time it would turn out a bit oily. 

Eggplant is a sponge for any liquid, so please keep this in mind.

That is why I use my oven, so I am able to cut down on how much oil I use.  

Take two cookie sheets, spread olive oil on the bottom of both sheets.  Slice your eggplant in 1/4 inch rounds.

Place the rounds on your cookie sheets, then on the tops of your eggplant, with a papper towel, baste the tops of your eggplant. Please just baste the top once and move on because, if you blink, the eggplant will absorb all the oil and look dry on top. 

Place in the oven for 9 minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside. Lower the temperature of your oven to 350 degrees.


Assembly Line


I am using a 12 x 7 casserole dish.  Grab your filling, sauce, eggplant and set up your station.

Place 1 cup of the tomato sauce on bottom of your casserole dish.  Place a layer of your eggplant.

Keep the layers com'in


Top the eggplant with your filling.

Add the tomato sauce on top on the filling.

Top with 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. 

Top with another layer of eggplant. Top with half of your remaining sauce and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.

If you want to add more cheese to your casserole, feel free to do so.   

I am only giving you the basics, you use your imagination,  make it your own if you like.


Finishing Touches

On your third and final layer.

Place a layer of eggplant.

Pour the remainder of your tomato sauce on the eggplant.

Top with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Cover the casserole dish with tin foil, making sure it doesn't touch the top of your casserole and bake at 350 degrees, for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes are up, take your tin foil off and bake for another 15 minutes. 

This will help you acheive a crispy goodness of cheese on top of your casserole.


As my Grandson would say "TA-DA!"



Now, make sure you allow your eggplant casserole to sit on the stove for at least 20 minutes. This way it has had some time to firm up and it will be easier to cut. I know it will be very hard for you to have to wait but, it will be well worth it.


Add a salad or a nice piece of your favorite bread and dig in.


Please try out another of my favorite recipes...


Baked Potato Quiche:  Mama's got it Loaded!


All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different and acceptable) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)

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