And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. -Ronald Reagan
Several months ago, I bought an eggplant on its reputation for being a “superfood.” If Reagan is right that great change begins at the dinner table, then an eggplant is one fine bulb of healthy revolution. Its healthiness, however, intimidated me and as I tend to do with many things that intimidate me, I ignored it. After two weeks the eggplant seemed to have given up being smug and began to decompose into brown mush in a quiet corner of the crisper. I had won the first face off. But I felt guilty for having wasted it on point of pride. I now look upon that brave eggplant as a martyr. It sacrificed itself so that I could feel “more comfortable” around other eggplants. Last week, I repeated the exercise and bought another eggplant ($1!). Izzy and I went through some exposure therapy exercises. Then, last night, while we had some friends over to watch the Golden Globes, I pulled out The Joy of Cooking gifted us by Tom and Holly Warren, and I found an eggplant recipe that Holly had boxed with a red pen.
From the Joy of Cooking
There was a long introductory section on how to rinse and salt the eggplant slices so they don’t soak up as much oil—a process unpleasantly called “degorging.” I decided for the sake of the eggplant and it’s dignity NOT to degorge it. I also left the dark skin on.
Cut eggplant into ½ inch slices.
Dip in wheat flour
Beat 3 eggs and 1 tablespoon olive oil together, then dip the eggplants in the egg braise.
Finally, dip in bread crumbs.
Allow crusted eggplants to breathe on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then fry (about 3 minutes a side) in olive oil in a skillet at medium-high heat.
Coat a baking sheet with 3 cups tomato sauce. Arrange the fried eggplant slices in a single layer, overlapping if necessary, on the baking sheet. Top with 2 more cups tomato sauce and:
2 teaspoons dried oregano
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Combine and sprinkle over the eggplant:
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
2/3 cup grated parmesan
Sprinkle over the top:
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
Bake at 425 degrees until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Serve at once.
Oh my gosh—5 stars! Everyone made faces I would expect when I mentioned I had an eggplant dish in the oven. Everyone said politely they would “try it.” The plates were licked clean! It tasted like pizza—the fried eggplant was crunchy. I did manage to burn about half of the eggplant in the frying attempt because I have little experience and was unduly distracted. Tina Fey and Amy Pohler’s interludes on the GG were the main distraction.
Fun Fact: there is a nicotine-related chemical in the seeds of the eggplant, and if one were to eat 20 pounds of eggplant at once, it would be the equivalent of having one cigarette!
Also, eggplant is a fruit, not a vegetable.
My lovely neighbor Janelle told me she thinks I need to “cool it” with the one loaf of bread a day. There seems to be some wisdom here–hence, I’m taking a day off of the grain train.