In the meantime I am taking advantage of the coolness to bake up some dishes. Baking up casseroles is a good way to use up the fabulous fresh vegetables that are available now and you can have meals to go just waiting for you in your freezer! Mom had given me some eggplant she had and I bought another one, a white eggplant, at the market on the weekend. So I thought I'd make up some Eggplant Parmesan. I'm not a huge fan of eggplant but smother anything in tomato sauce and cheese and I'm there! I scanned my cookbooks for a recipe (to use as a guideline). And then opened my new cookbook that I received for my birthday, Jamie's Italy. I am currently reading it from cover to cover, something I have never done with a cookbook. I'm doing this because I have such a huge appreciation for the simplicity, healthiness and wonderful flavours that come out of Italy. This book is a must have for every collection. Even if you don't cook - the recipes are simple, really sticking to true flavours. And if you can catch the series on TV, I highly recommend watching it. In one of the poorest areas of Italy a MacDonald's opened and then closed again in 3 months. No one wanted to eat there when they got such good food at home and on the streets! This book is expensive in the book stores but order it on-line and save a bunch (watch out for free shipping - you may have to order something else to go with it but, hey, we all need another good trashy novel - which you'll have time to read since Jamie's recipes are so easy and quick!)
I followed Jamie's recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. I started with a basic tomato sauce using sauteed onions, garlic, dried oregano and canned tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes, then toss in a little red wine vinegar and some fresh basil (you could used dried just put it in before you start the simmering time). Salt and pepper to taste and that's it! It's a really great, simple base sauce. I would have gladly had it over pasta just as it was!
To make the eggplant Parmesan you grill or saute the eggplant cut into 1/2 strips. Jamie advises not to use too much oil. I sprayed the pan but that was it. Brown it on both sides while your sauce is simmering. Only other ingredient is freshly grated Parmesan. And then you just layer it, sauce, Parmesan, eggplant. You could also add in sliced zucchini if you have lots around or make this with just zucchini. So many of us end up with more zucchini from the garden then we know what to do with. Sprinkle with some bread crumbs and I added some torn up bits of fresh mozzarella on top. Bake at 375 for 1/2 hour. That's it.
And this freezes beautifully. Now in the pit of January you have garden fresh flavours just waiting for you. God, I love my freezer...