Tag Archives: Mozzarella

Eggplant Parmesan – that will convert you

All through high school I worked at a local Pizza place, there were a few items that I swore that I would never try; they looked and smelled WAY too funky for me.  Here is yet another example of never say never.  Feta cheese came in a metal vat filled with what I believe was oil or a vinegar maybe.  We had to take a chunk out at a time and crumble it; the smell was horrid. Another was breaded eggplant, it just looked and felt wrong on all levels and then there was the dreaded anchovy the smell and look was just plain rancid; we used to flip to see who had to make the anchovy pizza when someone ordered it.

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Now as an adult I love feta cheese, it adds so much tart briny flavor to anything you put it on.  I love adding it to pasta salad it makes it pop. I still would not order an anchovy pizza but I do appreciate a true Caesar salad made with them and I understand why and when they are needed; I even have a can of them in my pantry as I write this.  The recipe I am going to share now for Eggplant Parmesan has completely changed my mind about the veggie and I am now open to and have used eggplant so much so, that I am thinking of planting it in next year’s garden. With age comes wisdom – or as I explain it; you have to try new food as you get older your taste buds change.

I have also used the sauce for a quick pasta sauce during the week; it has a great taste and a little kick. My mother and a friend were here visiting the last few weeks and I made this; they both loved it and wanted the recipe. My mom even said and I quote “I thought mine was really good but this one I want the recipe” I hope she is reading this and smiling…

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Sauce

2 tbs. good olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 ½ tsp sugar

2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano plum tomatoes

Kosher salt

Eggplant

2 medium eggplants sliced ½ inch thick rounds

½ cup flour

Kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

3 large eggs

1½ tbs milk

2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs

1½ tsp dried oregano

1½ tsp thyme

Vegetable oil for frying – about 1 inch in the pan you are using

12-16 ounces fresh mozzarella thinly sliced

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups sliced provolone

Slice the eggplant and sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and let sit while you make the sauce.  Place on paper towels on a sheet pan.

In a large skillet add the olive oil heat over medium. Add the onions saute for 1-2 minutes; add the garlic and season with salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes.  Saute till the onion are translucent about 6-7 minutes.  Add the sugar and tomatoes, while you are pouring them out of the can squeeze to break them up a bit. Reduce heat to medium low and cook stirring occasionally about 15-20 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant under water and dry off thoroughly with some paper towels. The reason we do this step draws out some of the liquid and removes some of the bitterness.

Get out 3 pie plates or whatever you use when you batter and fry.  Flour goes in one, eggs and milk in another and the third combine the breadcrumbs, oregano and thyme.  Make sure to salt and pepper each pie plate. Dredge each eggplant round in the flour, shake off excess. Dip in the egg mixture and then the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Lay each round on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke lightly (between 380’ and 400’) Use tongs to add and flip the eggplant, making sure to each piece is golden brown, I like them a little extra crispy so they are not mushy.  Transfer to a sheet pan covered with paper towels.  Repeat until all pieces are fried.

Preheat oven to 350’ using an 11 x 13 baking dish

Spoon some sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer eggplant over sauce slightly overlapping, top with some mozzarella and the some provolone; repeat with remaining sauce, eggplant and cheeses.  Press the layers firmly into the dish. Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. About 35-40 minutes.

Stuffed Zucchini

I had a wonderful visit from a lifelong friend this weekend.  We met when we were around 11 maybe and even though we do not see or talk with each other often; you know life and miles get in the way; it is like we see each other all the time.  We pick right up where we left off from our last visit.  We spent time going through my garden; she and her boyfriend are new to vegetable gardening. We talked plants and what was working and what wasn’t. They had the dreaded vine borers that I had been plagued with the last few years, this year we did not have that problem thankfully. We have had an abundance of zucchini which inspired tonight’s dinner. I just finished making stuffed zucchini; which I have had and never made before.

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While baking is a science and you really need to pay attention to the ingredients and the amounts needed.  Cooking is the complete opposite.  I tend to use the ingredients I like and have on hand.  Stuffing being pretty basic formula; herbs, bread crumbs, a little heat and lots of flavor plus I am a HUGE sausage fan so that is a must.  While I was chopping and sauteing I sent my husband to the garden for some herbs.  I asked for parsley and whatever else he would like.  He came back with thyme, basil and parsley.

Even though I did spend a little time looking online for some ideas in the end I used what I had on hand and made a stuffing that tasted really good.  I can only imagine once the sauce and mozzarella meld with the squash and stuffing it will taste pretty amazing.  I will let you know in about an hour. They were delicious – my husband and I both agree to make them again.

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Jalapeno – I removed the seeds with a spoon – we like a little heat.

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I used 2 whole zucchini’s. I saved the last one for tomorrow nights dinner

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Here is how I made mine – shallot, onion, zucchini, garlic and the herbs were from my garden – I think that is SO cool!

2 Shallot minced – soften in the sausage pan after the sausage is cooked

2 small onions minced – soften along with the shallot

3 Cloves of garlic pressed

3 zucchini halved and seeded – chop and add to stuffing

1 jalapeno – seeded and minced

1 yellow pepper minced

Package of sweet Italian sausage casing removed and crumbled – browned in a pan

½ cup Breadcrumbs

½ cup Parmesan cheese grated

1 jar of spaghetti sauce

Mozzarella

Thyme, basil and parsley – all from my garden

Wash and remove the stem and bottom of the zucchini, in a bowl add all the other ingredients and herbs; stir and let meld for a bit.  Preheat the oven at 350’ get out a baking dish.  Fill the zucchini with the yummy stuffing and cover with the sauce and mozzarella.  Cover with tin foil for 40 minutes then uncover and cook another 20 or so till bubbly and browned we do like our squash al dente versus mush so please cook to your likeness – if you need to place under the broiler for a few minutes please do.  I think food tastes better when it looks amazing – the company helps with this too.

3 ingredient (no fuss) Eggplant

Building our patio a few years back was one of the best idea’s I pushed to get built.  Sometimes my husband needs a little nudge to start a huge project around the house – the carpenters house is never finished. I can’t truly say that as my house is awesome and more than 90% done. We were having a large family gathering and I wanted some place outside for everyone to gather. And even though he had plenty of notice he finished the blue stone patio the day before the event. 

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That’s all water under the bridge now; we have had so many gatherings out there over the years.  It is a wonderful place to talk, laugh, visit, relax and eat. On beautiful days and when we don’t have plans one of us sends the other a text to meet on the patio after work.  Some of my favorite nights are spent out there relaxing.  Keeping with the theme of relaxing, visiting and talking; dinner needs to be something that can be cooked on the grill, simply prepped and a not a lot of fuss. 

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Tuesday was such beautiful day out; I received the patio text and couldn’t wait. I was determined to make dinner an afterthought. We had some zucchini and summer squash from the garden, I had some Italian sausages in the freezer. I was thinking simple and light. My mother-in-law stopped over as I was heading out the patio with my glass of wine, and of course she joined me for a glass. She was planning on making one of her simple eggplant and spaghetti sauce dishes and had a fresh loaf of bread.  After a second glass of wine we called my father-in-law and asked him to walk over with the bread and the eggplant.

Dinner turned out excellent and I wanted to share my in-laws eggplant recipe with you all because it is 3 ingredients and NO FUSS. 

 

No fuss Eggplant

1 Medium or 2+ small (depending on how many for dinner)

1 jar of your favorite jar sauce

Half a package of mozzarella chopped 

Cut up the eggplant and place in your cooking vessel, I use my cast iron for the grill it works out great

Cover with sauce and mozzarella and then loosely with tinfoil and cook on medium low heat for about 10 minutes.

 

Squash Packet 

1-2 zucchini

1-2 summer squash

1 small onion

1 Tbs butter

Kosher salt

Fresh crack black pepper

Cut up all the squash in similar size pieces, you want them to all cook at the same time. Slice the onion and take a square of tin-foil (adjust size for how much you cut up) we are making a foil packet – I use these ALL the time on the grill and sometimes in the house.  Salt and pepper and add the butter and then fold 3 sides several times to create a packet.  They are very easy to grill; even flipping occasionally so they do not burn.  I like mine cooked to al dente so about 10-15 minutes and they are done. Leave the packet closed so they stay warm until everything else is done.