Typically I make a grocery shopping list on Saturday, and I try to plan for five dinners so I don’t wind up running back and forth to the grocery store. This weekend, like so many, I only had three things in mind, so I toss it over to Mr. Pea. I asked him what he wanted to eat, and he started thumbing through back issues of Everyday Foods, which is his personal subscription. He’d intended to make this meal himself, but I got it started before he got home. Why? Because I insist on doing everything myself.
In this case, I started by making some Italian bread. I’d never made Italian bread before, but it was actually pretty simple. I followed this recipe on Allrecipes, doing by hand what the bread machine’s dough cycle would ordinarily do (mix, knead, let rise an hour) and adding an extra 3/4 tsp or so of yeast. The bread actually turned out soft and tasty.
I also made a quick tomato sauce, rather than use a jar, per the recipe. I don’t like jarred sauce–there was once a day where we bought it on a regular basis, and then I realized it was cheaper and tastier to do it myself, so that’s how it’s been ever since. I chopped a small onion and minced two garlic cloves, tossed them in some hot oil (minor kitchen injury sustained here. whoops), added some red pepper flakes, and cooked down for a few minutes. Then I added one 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, but squished the tomatoes between the fingers before I tossed them in, and ground some pepper in there, as well. I let this simmer for an hour (though twenty minutes will do when that’s all you have), added a tablespoon of brown sugar and some fresh herbs to finish off. Voila. Sauce.
Once I had those two things out of the way, I could actually begin the recipe. This was a very delicious and easy recipe to make, and would be excellent with a loaf of Italian bread from the store and whatever sauce you’ve got on hand. A word to the wise, though: our loaf was all of 10 or 12″ long, and a smallish eggplant covered them perfectly. We also didn’t use 2 cups of sauce, as the recipe demands. But if we had a full-size grocery store loaf, we’d have definitely used all that sauce, and would have needed a much bigger eggplant.
So you’ll need:
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2″ rounds
olive oil, for pan
3/4 c plain bread crumbs
8 oz mozzerella, sliced (we prefer Sorrento or fresh for this–block mozzerella by Dragone is pretty dry, but the Sorrento was actually tasty and moist)
2 c tomato sauce
1 loaf of Italian bread
Preheat oven to 475 F.
Place crumbs in one shallow bowl, and beat the eggs in another with 1/4 tsp of pepper and 1 tsp of salt. Slick a baking sheet with olive oil. Dip eggplant rounds first in egg, allowing excess to drip off, and then dredge them in crumbs. Shake off excess, and place on baking sheet. Place in oven, and not turning, allow to bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and tender.
Slice your loaf of Italian bread lengthwise, so you have two halves ready to go. Cover each half with tomato sauce, slices of eggplant, and then slices of cheese. Pop into the oven for 6-8 minutes, until cheese is melty and starting to brown. We used the broiler for a minute to get it to brown up. Cut each piece in half for four melts. Tasty! Easy! Serve with whatever you’ve got on hand–pasta salad would be awesome, but we had potato chips, so that’s what we ate. I’m looking forward to the leftovers for lunch.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the initial sprouts we planted some time ago, for the most part, croaked. The zucchinis lived, though, and look what we found last night! Zucchini flowers!
We planted new bean seeds a few weeks ago, and they’re growing, too! Our little urban veggie garden is starting to come together.