Steady Rush

Baked Eggplant with Pomodoro Sauce

I have confessed before how eggplant is the perfect vegetable, the trick is just finding the right eggplant for the recipe.  While all eggplant have similar tastes/textures there is just enough difference to make it worth experimenting with to find the perfect one.  For most recipes, I go for standard American eggplant varieties such as Black Beauty or Black Magic.  I have attempted to grow Black Beauty eggplant for the past two years, but so far I’ve been dependent on the local markets since I lack the skill to get them to grow.  Another common type you’ll find in my kitchen are Italian Eggplant, which are more cylindrical and less pear-shaped than American varieties.  These are great for recipes that call for uniformity in the slices, such as Parmesan or rollatinis.   There are also more exotic varieties such as Thai and Indian eggplant, however I still have more testing to do before I’ll be sharing on those.  This recipe is great for either American or Italian, Italian will result in more uniformity with baking but by careful arranging on the baking sheets the American varieties will work just as well.

Ingredients (serves 2-3 or 4-5 – with pasta)

  • 1.5lbs eggplant, cut into 1in thick rings
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp EVOO
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cans unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 lb pasta, cooked (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place a layer of papertowels down on a cutting board, then layer on the eggplant placing paper towels between each layer.  Top with another cutting board and weigh down with about 5lbs, distributing the weight evenly.  Press the eggplant for 30minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease a cooking sheet.
  3. Mix the cheese and and bread crumbs in a small bowl, with the beaten egg in another bowl.  Dip the pressed eggplant in the egg, using fingers/fork to pull off extra egg before dipping in the bread crumb cheese mixture and then placing on the cooking sheet.  Continue with the rest of the eggplant creating a single layer on the sheet.  No spacing is needed between the slices, just make sure they are in only one layer.  Bake for 20minutes, flip, and then bake for a final 15minutes or until the breadcrumbs are lightly brown on each side.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the sauce by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5minutes, or until garlic starts to turn golden.  Add the basil, cook for another 2minutes, and then add the diced tomatoes along with the tomato paste.  Cover and allow the mixture to simmer for 15minutes.  Taste and season with salt/pepper as needed.  
  5. Serve the eggplant with just the sauce for a quick and simple meal, or add the pasta for more filling supper.  

I’m not sure why it is the I love eggplant so much, but with easy dinners like this one I’m certainly not complaining!