Monday, February 6, 2012

Eggplant Extravaganza

Dear Reader,

Living in New York City provides myriad opportunities for someone who likes to cook.  Specialty grocers, farmers markets, exotic spice bazaars, and whole buildings devoted to nothing but cheese abound.  I tend to decide what I'm going to make for dinner sometime just after lunch, and then go pick up whatever I will need for that night's meal.  I don't need to tell you how expensive this can be.  In effort to be more thrifty, and clean out some of my cupboards which are in danger of falling off the wall, my husband and I decided to try something.  In one afternoon we would pick up all the produce we would need for the entire week's worth of meals.  I know that a lot of people do this as a matter of course, but we're a bit new at it, and as a result, one of us thought that we would definitely need at least six eggplants.  We never eat eggplant, although I like it very much, and found myself at the end of the week having to make a meal for my family that used six eggplants.


 I was inspired by Jaime Oliver's Eggplant Parmigiana, so began with his sauce which you see in the picture above.  Doesn't it look delish?  It was.  Olive oil, onion, garlic, oregano, tomatoes, wine vinegar.  I didn't use the suggested basil, as I didn't have any, and this was a strictly use-what-I-have kind of affair.

 I sliced and grilled the eggplant in my grill pan.  I should have cut the eggplant more thinly to minimize the slime factor.

Lovely parmesan made soft and fluffy with my microplane grater.

 I made breadcrumbs with the ends of whole wheat sandwich bread, toasted and tossed with a bit of olive oil.

 I layered the sauce, the eggplant...

 ...and the cheese, until it reached the top of this lovely dish which was a wedding present ten years ago.  I can't recall who gave it to me.  If it was you, I thank you again, and you'll be happy to know that I use it frequently.

 Ok, here's where I went a little crazy.  I wanted something filling, but still easy on the old Weight Watchers points, so I topped the whole thing with a pint of fat free Ricotta, mixed with an egg.  I added some salt and pepper, then topped with more sauce, the breadcrumbs and more cheese, then baked it in the oven for longer than I was expecting it to take.

I was a little excited when the dish was finally done, and forgot to take a picture before we ate it.  It was delicious, and my kids enjoyed it, too - even if they said they didn't.  The best part was all the room I had in the fridge after getting rid of those eggplants.  I wonder what he'll bring home this week.  Truckloads of turnips?  Mountains of mustard greens?  Or better yet, a bushel of beets.  I like beets.

Now here is something to entertain you on this Monday.   I forgot how weird this video is.  That's probably because at the time it was made I thought it was the decade's greatest artistic achievement.

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