Red Wicket Market Farm is a small farm 25 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio, near Slate Run Metropark. Breeding Black Copper and Blue Copper Marans to the Standard of Perfection.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Family Favorite Eggplant Recipes

Some folks have asked me how I use the eggplants that I grow. Here are two of our favorites.

Eggplant Tomato Layered Casserole.

Ok, this one really isn't a recipe. But it is delicious, and uses all kinds of garden goodness.

Peel two medium eggplants, and cut them into 1/4" slices.
Cut a nice summer squash/zucchini into 1/8" thick slices.
Slice at least three large garden-ripe tomatoes thinly.

You'll also need:
Freshly ground pepper
fresh thyme and/or basil
crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese, whatever you like
good olive oil.

Drizzle some oil in an 8"x8" pan. Add a layer of eggplant and some salt and pepper and herbs. Add a layer of tomatoes, some salt and pepper and herbs, then some cheese. Add another eggplant layer don't forget to season, some tomatoes, some squash, some tomatoes, some cheese, some eggplant... Keep going until you run out of veggies or room in the pan--just be sure to end with tomatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so. I like to add a layer of provolone cheese on the top in the last few minutes. This is a fabulous summer side dish or great intro to your next dinner party.

Fried Eggplant (or Zucchini)--Mike's very favorite

1. Put some all-purpose flour onto a plate. About 1/2 cup should do it. Season it with some salt and pepper.

2. Crack an egg or two into a bowl large enough to dunk some eggplant slices in. Add about 2 teaspoonsful of water. Beat with a fork until well combined.

3. Put about a cup or more of breadcrumbs (preferably Panko--Ian's brand from Whole Foods is fabulous, but you can usually find some at any decent grocery) onto a second plate. Use seasoned crumbs or season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano and maybe some grated Parmesan cheese.

4. Peel the eggplant. Cut it into 1/4" thick rounds.

5. Heat about 1/4" of olive oil in a reasonably large frying pan. Heat it until it starts to shimmer but isn't smoking.

6. Dredge an eggplant slice into the flour, then shake off the excess. Dip the slice into the eggs, then shake off the excess. Then dip the slice into the breadcrumbs and make sure that the slice is fully covered.

7. Dip the edge of the slice into the oil. If it starts to sizzle slightly, put the slice in the pan. If no sizzle, let the oil get hotter before you add the eggplant.

8. Repeat steps 5-6 with the other slices and add them to the oil. You might have to do it in batches--don't overcrowd the pan.

9. When they get golden brown around the edges, flip them over. The tops should be nice golden brown.

10. Fry a bit longer until the bottoms are golden brown, too. You'll have to peek at a couple to make sure.

11. Drain the eggplant on paper towels.

12. If you have too much eggplant for one batch, do the second batch using steps 6-11.

These fried slices make killer veggie hoagies with provolone cheese, torn basil and some good tomato slices.

You can also turn them into a super easy Eggplant Parmisiana:

Heat some nice bottled marinara sauce that you like, or chop and slightly simmer some garden-fresh tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, basil and oregano. Grate some Italian cheeses, like Provolone, Parmesan and mozzarella, or use a 5-cheese Italian blend pre-shredded from the store.
Put some eggplant slices on a plate. Add pasta sauce and cheese. Microwave 30 seconds or so to melt the cheese. Garnish with a basil sprig if you have some.

Let me know if you enjoy these recipes, and also how you'd make them better. I love to experiment with cooking!