I'll open by confessing that I wasn't entirely sure if I should call this a "fall" recipe. A lot of the ingredients are classically "summer" ingredients (that is, they peak in the summer months and Girl Gone Gourmet, where I found the recipe, introduces it by saying that it's "full of the best summer has to offer." EEK!)
However, I decided to go for it because, (A.) We harvested all the herbs and produce I used to make it (well, except the onion) from our garden this week; (B.) Its hearty taste reminds me not at all of summer, but of cooler weather; and, perhaps most importantly, (C.) It tastes so damned good I didn't want you to miss out on it just because of seasonal gray-area.
I found this recipe in the first place because our eggplant crop, which did nothing all summer, is suddenly all, "Oh, hi. We're ready now. All of us. Enjoy." So I have a bunch of eggplants that need a purpose.
My family, though, isn't huge on eggplant. (Weirdos!) So I knew I couldn't just serve an eggplant dish as a meal and think anyone but myself would enjoy that. So, for myself, I planned to have it as a sandwich, and, for my family, I thought I'd do it as a side dish to pair with baked chicken parmesan.
But, as my parents like to say, "you know what thought did."
Turns out I didn't account for the extra time it takes me to do all the chopping and photographing for posts, so our chicken was finished before the eggplant and we had to run out to soccer practice, so we ended up eating the chicken as a standalone. When we returned from soccer, the girls weren't about to eat a vegetable dish on its own. Oy. I made my sandwich as planned, though, and it was fabulous. My younger daughter tasted two bites and agreed it was "really good." (And she said it with that creepy eye-rolling-back-in-your-head delighted look made famous by Alex Guarnaschelli of Food Network fame, so you know it was genuine.)
|Photo from foodnetworkhumor.com|
I am posting the recipe as I executed it, but if you check out the original I linked above, you'll note that I made modifications. I didn't use mushrooms, for example, because nobody in my house enjoys them all that much, and I skipped basil and subbed in oregano because my herb garden has stopped producing basil while the oregano crop is flourishing. Also, I peeled my eggplant and did more of a dice on them than the larger "bite sized pieces" the original recipe called for.
(Adapted from Girl Gone Gourmet Eggplant Casserole)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pepper, diced (I used red because that's what I had in my garden)
3 large tomatoes, diced (mine were heirlooms from my garden)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced (definitely slice your own. Those bites were the best!!!)
loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced (each sandwich requires a top and bottom so slice accordingly)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 2-qt square baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions (and one random dice of red pepper...) and cook until soft, but not brown, about 3 minutes.
3. Add peppers and garlic and cook 3-5 more minutes.
|I forgot to take a photo of the peppers added step, but here's one of what they looked like chopped!|
4. Add tomatoes and herbs and simmer a few minutes.
5. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
6. In same pan, heat vegetable oil. Add eggplant and salt.
7. Stirring frequently, cook eggplant until it browns. Then stir in flour, before stirring in the reserved tomato mixture. Simmer 2 minutes.
8. Add half the mixture to the baking dish. Sprinkle it with half the shredded parmesan cheese and half the sliced mozzarella cheese. Then top with the remaining veggie mixture, the rest of the parmesan cheese, and the rest of the slice mozzarella.
9. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
10. Scoop onto a rustic roll and enjoy!
Warning: this is not a great first-date or have-your-boss-for-dinner sandwich. (Read: it's hella messy.) But it IS a great tasting sandwich. So there's that.
I've been enjoying mine in leftover form, too, as lunch. It's yum on a roll (both warm and cool!) Today I just heated up a bowl of it and that was fab, too. Like a hearty vegetable ragout. The fresh mozzarella on top remains my favorite part. MMM.
|Oh melty mozzarella. How I love thee|