Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aubergine Parmigiana

We've come across aubergines in two books lately - one of which was Never too Late (the little six year old liked aubergines). No recipes or particular dishes were we're left to wonder how exactly they were served.  I have to admit that I only really knew three things about aubergines (besides the fact that it is also a shade of purple).
  1. They are also known as eggplants (at least they are here in the western U.S).
  2. They are the feature ingredient of Eggplant Parmigiana, which I don't think I'd ever had.
  3. Michael Franks sang a song about a woman who cooks eggplants. I bought his album The Art of Tea before I married Dr. van der Stevejinck.
So, I decided to give them a whirl. My nearly 16 year old (he's counting the days) was helping me put away groceries when he spotted the purple (aubergine) beauties. 'What do they taste like?' asked he. 'What do you think they taste like?' says I. 'The produce section.' says he.

I found a recipe by Jamie Oliver online - it looked good, but I was unable to grill eggplant slices today, so I ended up using a different recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook and combining it (a little) with the Jamie Oliver recipe.

Here's my version:

Stuffed Eggplant Parmigiana
2 smallish eggplants
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 can of diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
1 small can tomato paste
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
a couple of leaves of fresh basil, chopped
around 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
around 1/2 a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Italian style breadcrumbs

  • Heat oven to 350'.
  • Brown sausage, onion and garlic in saucepan, drain thoroughly. While sausage mixture is browning, cut the two eggplants in half and scoop out most of the pulp (I left about 1/2 an inch), dice.
  • Combine in saucepan: sausage mixture, tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, salt. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add diced eggplant and fresh basil, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Place eggplant 'shells' in a baking pan (I used a 9x13). Fill shells half full with sausage/tomato mixture, sprinkle with mozzarella. Heap remaining mixture on top and sprinkle with more mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • Bake, uncovered for about 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Verdict: Dr. van der Stevejinck loved it.  He had two servings for dinner and took a third serving for his lunch today. I liked it okay...but found the tomato sauce a little overpowering (Jamie Oliver suggests fresh in-season tomatoes...that sounds more to my liking). Fifteen year-old - wouldn't even try - way too much 'produce section' for him.