Friday, April 25, 2008

Passover Eggplant Parmesan

The best part of this dinner is how little it cost. I stopped by the Warehouse Surplus and bought cherry tomatoes for .25 cents, and an eggplant for .50 cents. The rest, I improvised from what I had on hand at home.

I suspected eggplant would take well to being breaded with matzoh meal, given how coarse it is. I didn't bother making a layer of actual matzo in it to mimic pasta because I don't make my year-round eggplant Parmesan that way. You could, but this is already a pretty hearty meal-though I'm sure it would be a spiffy sandwich next day between two slices of matzoh. I think I just invented an eggplant parm matzo sub. I should copyright that-it would sell well in Boston. I made my own sauce and am giving the recipe here, but you could do anything really, or open a jar. I won't rat you out.

Anyhoo, you can probably imagine how great this smells. I'd totally invite you over for dinner. I would. There's more than enough for company.

You Will Need:

1 eggplant
Kosher salt
2 cups matzo meal
2 eggs, beaten
1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small tin of tomato sauce
½ tin tomato paste
¼ cup chopped black olives
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh rosemary
8 button mushrooms, chopped
1 large, sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, finely diced
Olive oil for sautéing
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Oil for frying

Peel and slice the eggplant lengthwise. Layer in a colander sprinkling with kosher salt between layers. Let stand 30 minutes to drain. Rinse well and pat dry before coating and frying. While you wait for the eggplant, make the sauce.

In a large frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, rosemary and olives until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook a few minutes more. Stir in the dried herbs.

In a large pot, combine the cherry tomatoes, the sauce and paste. Add the sautéed vegetables and stir well to combine. Depending on the brand of tomato sauce/paste, you may need salt-test at this point. The matzo meal breading for the eggplant is not salted (though the eggplant will retain some from soaking, so take that into account when adding salt. Cheese can also add quite a bit, depending on the type you may need to add water if the sauce is too thick at this point, but remember the cherry tomatoes will give off water as they cook. Cook, covered until cherry tomatoes are soft –about 25 minutes.

Place matzo meal on a large plate. In a large bowl, beat the two eggs. Dip the eggplant first in egg and then in matzoh meal. Transfer to a plate. When all are coated, return to fridge for a few minutes as oil heats. This will help the crumbs adhere better.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Begin heating frying oil in a heavy pot or pan. Grease a baking dish.

When oil is hot, fry eggplant taking care to drain the slices well. When all pieces are fried, begin assembling.

In the bottom of the dish, place a ladle of sauce. Top with eggplant, more sauce, and cheese. Make the second layer being sure to end with a cheese layer (it won't matter if you forget, it just looks nicer when browned.

Bake the casserole for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned and bubbling. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.

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