Grilled Eggplant and Tomatoes with Rustic Kale Pesto

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Nine months since my last post. I am so very sorry. I have been busy honing my improv and taking an acting class at TCR. During this time I have been creating and cooking many, many things. I just haven’t had the time to blog them and I have quite a backlog. I will try to blog at least once a week again.

Here’s my latest creation.

This is a great late summer meal. All of these ingredients should be readily available this time of year at your farmer’s market or in your garden.

Ingredients

Pesto
8 – 10 larger leaves of Kale (about 2 – 3 cups finely chopped)
4 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
¼ Cup Pine Nuts (Toasted)
¼ Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (Freshly Grated)
Olive Oil
Grey Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Eggplant and Tomatoes
2 Larger Eggplants
4 Medium or 2 Larger Tomatoes (I prefer a heirloom tomato)
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Directions

Pesto
Toast pine nuts in skillet until lightly browned. Let them cool, coarsely chop them and set aside. Remove the thick, center rib from the kale. Next, chop kale into a fairly fine cut. The best way to accomplish this is to use a chiffonade technique to cut the kale into thin strips and then cross-cutting it into finer pieces. Mince garlic and add to kale along with pine nuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir in olive oil using just enough to thoroughly coat all ingredients. Season to taste with grey sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Eggplant and Tomatoes
Preheat grill to high heat. You will reduce heat to low a few minutes before placing the eggplant on the grill. Slice eggplant and tomatoes into ½ inch thick slices. Brush eggplant with olive oil then season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Season tomatoes with kosher salt and a little black pepper. Grill eggplant over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Grill tomatoes over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Plating
Place eggplant first followed by tomato. Then top with kale pesto. Enjoy!

A twist on an Italian favorite: Eggplant Parmesan Pizza

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This week’s meatless meal is a twist on two Italian favorites: eggplant Parmesan and pizza. You better be hungry as this is a very filling meal.

Here is what I did:

Ingredients

2 eggs
Kosher salt and ground pepper
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking oil
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
1 small loaf soft Italian bread (Approximately 12″ in length)
2 cups store bought tomato sauce (I prefer Barilla Tomato and Basil)
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Directions

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a shallow bowl or pie pan, lightly beat eggs and season with salt and pepper. In a second shallow bowl or pie pan, mix panko and grated Parmesan together.

Pour enough cooking oil to fill a large skillet to about ¼” depth and heat. Dip eggplant rounds in egg and then dredge in panko and Parmesan mixture. Turn to coat completely. Fry rounds until golden brown and transfer to paper towel lined platter to drain excess oil.

Cut bread lengthwise and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Spread tomato sauce over both halves of bread and then layer divide eggplant and cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and nicely browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Not your mother’s eggplant Parmesan

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I remember the first time I ever had eggplant. It was at my Aunt Bertha’s. I was probably about seven at the time and I really wasn’t too impressed with the idea of eating this purple oblong thing. That is until I tried it. It was surprisingly good.

Tonight I made Eggplant Parmesan; a ubiquitous use of eggplant. It was a toss-up between that or ratatouille and I figured the former would be a little more successful.

Susan claims this was the best eggplant Parmesan she has ever eaten.

Here is what I did:

Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

2 medium eggplants
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded provolone cheese

Directions

1. BREAD EGGPLANT. Cut two ¾-inch planks lengthwise from center of each eggplant and cut remaining eggplant into ½-inch dice. Place flour in shallow dish. Beat eggs in second shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs, ¼ cup Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in third shallow dish. One at a time, coat eggplant slices lightly with flour, dip them in egg, and dredge in bread-crumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer to wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and let sit 5 minutes.

2. COOK EGGPLANT. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat ½ cup oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook eggplant slices until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to wire rack set inside baking sheet and bake until eggplant is tender and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. MAKE SAUCE. Meanwhile, pour off oil and wipe out skillet with paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chopped eggplant and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining oil, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 -seconds. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until eggplant is tender and sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper; cover and keep warm.

4. ASSEMBLE. Combine remaining Parmesan and provolone in medium bowl. Top browned eggplant slices with cheese mixture and bake until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Transfer half of sauce to platter and top with eggplant slices. Spoon remaining sauce over eggplant. You may also serve with a thin spaghetti. If you do, plate spaghetti and then top with sauce, eggplant slices and remaining sauce.