So watching The Chew several months ago; they were talking about meatless Monday’s. I pondered it a couple of weeks and then presented it to the family. Abbi; my cohort in the kitchen was totally on board. The guys Rich and Alex were not, they grudgingly went with us kicking and screaming – which made for an interesting adventure in trying to come up with recipes that everyone would like and be a little more supportive and at least a little excited for meals. I will confess that when I first thought about doing this, I completely didn’t think this through entirely. I was thinking only for dinner; it never even crossed my mind about breakfast and dinner. That presented a whole new wedge in my thought process. Rich is a contractor and Alex works construction with him. Breakfast is super easy; Lunch is very difficult to come up with something yummy, filling and not a salad. The guys pretty much eat sandwiches of some sort daily. We have tried numerous veggie styled sandwiches; some were good enough to repeat, quite a few fell flat and will not be repeated. I personally found it much easier for me; working in an office where I can use of a microwave to re-heat leftovers, or a veggie soup or something along those lines, I even like an occasional PB&J.
4 crusty Portuguese or Ciabatta rolls – Also can use a crusty French bread
1 1/2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 clove garlic
1 Jar Caponata
1 yellow summer squash
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced
6 ounces provolone cheese
1 Jar red bell pepper, roasted and drained
2 Cups baby arugula leaves
Hollow out some of the soft bread, so the filling fits. Lightly brush the inside of the bread with olive oil. Rub with garlic clove. Spread Caponata over the rolls, mashing any large chunks.
Using a vegetable peeler, pare both squash into paper thin ribbons.
Layer on bottom half of bread zucchini brush with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Top with tomato slices, then provolone, then layer with peppers. Layer yellow squash over peppers, then brush with oil salt and pepper. Top each with arugula, put bread tops on; wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour (up to 24 hours) so flavors to meld.
Dinner we had a lot of fun with. We found a delicious Eggplant Parmesan recipe and have had it several times now. Before this; I never even purchased an Eggplant before. While in high school I worked at a local Pizza place and I never liked the look of the Eggplant they used – It was a popular item, and I am sure it was perfectly fine it just did not look very appetizing to me. It is so much crispier when it is freshly cooked at home. While I thought going meatless would be healthier; we did not embrace that part of this endeavor; Eggplant Parmesan has quite a bit of cheese and a yummy sauce.
2 medium eggplant – medium slices – about ½ inch
¼ Cup flour
3 large eggs
1 ½ Tbs milk
2 Cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
1 ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Cups vegetable oil for frying
12 ounces fresh Mozzarella thinly sliced
¼ Cup grated parmesan
2 Cup grated provolone cheese
Handful of fresh basil leaves
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion
6 cloves of garlic crushed
1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 ½ tsp sugar
28 ounce Can San Marzano plum tomatoes
Prepare eggplant; lay slices in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt on both sides; let sit about an hour. Rinse and dry
I use 3 glass pie plates – use similar
1 for flour salt and pepper; 1 whisk egg with milk salt and pepper; 1 with breadcrumbs, oregano salt and pepper. Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour, shake off any excess. Dip in the egg and finally the bread crumbs coating both sides. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Fry each piece till golden brown, roughly 3 minutes per side.
Making the sauce; heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Squeeze tomatoes into the onions. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring from time to time until the tomatoes break down, around 10/15 minutes. Taste and season as needed.
Preheat oven to 350’
Spoon a quarter of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Top with a layer of fried eggplant overlapping the slices slightly. Top with a quarter of the mozzarella, then sprinkle with about a third of the Parm, Provolone and basil. Repeat with remainder of eggplant. Press firmly into the dish and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. 35-40 minutes. If you like a browned top, put under the broiler for a few minutes just before serving.
I think my son was testing my food boundaries since I was testing his with being meatless one day a week. He started requesting meals with Mushrooms. I have never been a fan of them; it’s a texture thing and an old childhood no-no thing. I have tried several versions of mushroom dishes; some I did not mind others; I am ALL set with. We tried butternut squash lasagna that called for 2 cups of sliced mushrooms. We also tried portobello mushroom burgers. I did not care for either, the guys actually went back for seconds. Just goes to show different strokes for different folks.