The weather is slowly turning towards Fall. The trees are starting to show a little dryness, a little color other than deep green, some leaves even tumbling from their limbs and laying softly on the still healthy, growing grass.
With that slight evening chill in the air as the sun settles, my food brain is turning toward more of the “cozy/warm/gooey” thought process. Chili, stuffed peppers, roasted meat/fowl, etc. I was thinking of dinner ideas over the weekend when I came across a post on Pinterest from Lick My Spoon for their Ridiculously Good Baked Eggplant Parmesan. Bonus, it was a recipe for roasted eggplant instead of frying, so I was intrigued. So intrigued, that I actually followed about 90% of the recipe, which is impressive when it comes to my often unfocused and “imaginative” cooking!
First, I got some Japanese eggplant from the local Produce Junction and sliced it about 1/4″ thick for each piece. I did NOT salt it/weep it. I actually never have done that in the few times I’ve worked with eggplant (or aubergine), and have not experienced any bitterness in the finished product.
I love parchment paper, what a great invention. Brushed the slices with olive oil, little pinch of kosher salt and roasted for about 15 minutes on 350 degrees, then flipped them over. ADMISSION: I completely burned the first batch. Negligence, pure and simple.
Meanwhile, I began my sauce and ricotta mixture. This is where I went off the recipe reservation a touch. I bailed on the canned tomatoes and figured “What the heck, I’ve got a bunch of local tomatoes down the road at a farm produce stand, I’ll make my own!”. Sauces are interesting and I’m not even close to understanding how to make them great, but I like where I’m headed. The kitchen smelled really good right about now :). Fresh basil, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, pinch of sugar….what’s not to like?
Ricotta is another resource I’m clueless about. To me, there’s not a lot of taste to it. What am I missing? I mixed the ricotta with freshly shaved parm and created my “mix”.
Time to start building the dish. I discovered at this point I hadn’t made nearly enough sauce and contemplated going to my reserve cans (yes, I purchased a few, just in case I screwed up). Golfers, this is the point of the story where you think about the drive you blew 60 yards right and face a weird yardage to a front hole location over a pond. The “JICYFU” yardage.
Time to think: Can I get away with the lack of sauce?
All worked out ok, just a bit of a condensed mountain of eggplant and building materials. Looks good, time to bake!
This is about 25 minutes into the process. Bubbly, smells awesome. Time for the “crunch” of the dish. I love Panko!
The moment of truth, when you take something out of the saute pan or from the oven, take in the scents of your labor, the look of the dish….and say “dig in”. The finished product below. I’m happy to say, I almost made it look as pretty as @lickmyspoon! Follow them on Twitter, there’s great stuff on their site.
This is post #199. Over 600 followers, almost 5000 views. So I ask you, fellow reader of blogs, what shall I do for post #200? I’m also almost to the 2 year anniversary of launching this thing. I thank you for reading and staying curious about the things I encounter and do. Be well!