I love to grow eggplant. In particular, I find the Japanese Ichiban eggplant to be a particularly delightful plant, with its' lovely lavender flowers, and glossy deep purple skin. It grows well here in the PNW, in the same conditions that my tomatoes and peppers enjoy.
But it is a deeply maligned vegetable! Mention eggplant, and you will more than likely get a squinchy face with a stuck-tongue and a big ICK! And I never knew much about them before I started growing them. So what to do the little buggers when they start poppin' in the garden?
My Grammy used to say that invention was the child of necessity, and budget's been tight, hours have been cut, money is scarce, and I am REALLY glad I planted a garden. So I went a'searchin'.
Today, I tried a Ratatouille recipe. Now, I can't cook without messin' around with the recipe. Cooking brings out my inner mad chemist. Plus, rarely can I find a recipe which utilizes the exact left-overs in my fridge. Can't let that good food go to waste, so I experiment. /waggles eyebrows.
* About one pound of left over bar-b-q'd London Broil roast, cut into bite-sized chunks, floured and sauteed until a fine golden crust occurs.
* 2 tablespoons basil-infused olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
* 2 large onions, quartered and chunked.
* 7 small eggplants, sliced thickly
* 5 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
* 3 to 4 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
* 1 teaspoon fresh leaf basil
* 1/2 teaspoon freshd leaf oregano
* 1/4 teaspoon fresh leaf thyme
Grab the slow cooker. Pour the juice from left over roast in it. Place the sauteed meat in it. Throw one freshly cubed onion in it.
In a large skillet, drizzle olive oil and heat. Toss the other cubed onion in, and saute till soft. Add garlic. Saute some more. Add the cut up eggplant. Saute until eggplant is soft, and onions are golden brown. Add a bit of left over pesto, because it's there, and it's left over. Toss into the slow cooker.
Add tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs; mix well. Cover and cook over low heat. Sample occasionally, just to make sure you're on the right track. Smack your lips! Who knows how many it will serve. Haven't served it yet. Made a goodly pot.
Now this one, I've done three times, and it's delicious! I think I've finally have it down enough to write it down.
Wolfdancer's Vegetable Lasagna
*A large pan of sliced Ichiban eggplant. (it winds up being about 7 or 8 eggplants)
*A large pan of thickly sliced large tomatoes. (winds up being about 5 or 6, depending on how big the 'maters are)
*one package of either spinach or other fresh egg noodle type of noodle.
*garlic, if the pesto isn't garlicy enough for ya
*fresh grated romano cheese
*fresh grated parmesan cheese
Heat the over to broil. Drizzle pans with basil-infused olive oil, and place your 'maters and eggplants closely layered till the pan's full. Take your pans of eggplant and 'maters, and roast for about a half an hour. Try to flip the 'maters, if you can, although fresh 'maters tend to be pretty juicy! Flip the eggplants. When a lovely dark crusty yumminess occurs, they are done. That takes about a half hour. Watch them carefully, don't let 'em burn.
Prepare your noodles. If you're using spinach noodles, make sure you don't overcook them. It works better if the noodles are cooked slightly al dente.
Get a nice lasagna pan, or any deep dish oven pan. If you spray it with Pam, the clean-up will be a snap. Line the dish with your noodles. You should have at least a half an inch worth of noodles. Spoon pesto over the noodles, then sprinkle romano cheese generously over the surface. Take your eggplant, and layer the eggplant over the romano cheese. Take your tomatoes, and layer them over the eggplant. Add the garlic, if your pesto isn't garlicy enough. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese generously over the tomatoes. Slice the mozzarella cheese in goodly 1/4" slices, and cover the surface completely.
Drop the temperature in the oven to 350* and place the pan on another flat pan to catch potential dribbles. Bake for about a half an hour, or until the mozzarella is golden brown and bubbly delicious.
Let it cool for a bit, or you will scald your tongue.
From my garden to yours! Happy Gardening and Bon Appetite!