February 16, 2014

easy baked eggplant

I'm moving everything from the cooking closet [my other blog that I started awhile ago] over here to MN365. I'm decluttering [we'll talk about it] and I'd like to make some room on my dashboard. Hope it's not too annoying! (-:

I'm dreaming summery dreams filled with sunshine, warmth, and fresh produce.

Do you garden?

I don't. I love the idea of gardening and the produce that comes from gardening, but the actual work in the dirt? No thank you. I keep hearing about how gardening is "therapeutic," but I hear the same thing about running and I don't find it therapeutic.

Give me some complicated, fancy-schmancy cookies to make. That, my friends, is therapy.

Luckily we each have our own things that we naturally gravitate toward because without that, I wouldn't have had eggplant from the garden this summer. I would have had to purchase them from THE GROCERY STORE! *gasp*

Or the farmer's market.

Luckily my grandfather grows them for a little eggplant parmesan which is a summer favorite for my family and one of my grandma's specialties.
Thanks, Grandpa! [and Grandma for not staking claim to all 12 eggplants. (-:]

I went with a variation on the eggplant parmesan theme with this easy baked eggplant.

First I diced my eggplant into bite-sized cubish shapes. Just peel the eggplant, cut it into slices, and then cut those slices into smaller pieces. Take the smaller pieces and soak them in salt water. Eggplant can be bitter, so you don't want to forget this step. The salt water will turn cloudy. After it's soaked for about 15 minutes you want to drain it and rinse it and drain it. Get those cubes as dry as you can. If you have a kitchen with enough space for a salad spinner this would be a good time to break it out. If not, you can use a towel.
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Then do a large dice on an onion and some mushrooms.
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We're going to start by cooking the onion in some olive oil. Then throw in some garlic because they want to be friends. Once the onions are soft you can add the mushrooms and eggplant.
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A little red pepper flakes if you're feeling spicy. If not, leave them out. Let this cook until you get some color on your 'shrooms and eggplant. That means you have to leave it alone for a couple of minutes then stir, leave it alone for a couple of minutes then stir, leave it alone for a couple of minutes then stir, leave it alone for a couple of minutes then stir, leave it alone for a couple of minutes then stir, leave it alone for a couple of minutes then stir. You get the idea. Browning comes from letting your food actually sit in the pan. This is not a constant stirring fest.
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Don't forget the cheese!
Let's build.
 Kind of obsessed with .gifs right now. Do we love them or hate them? 
I use a jar of pasta sauce, I'm lame. I don't make my own.

Bake at 350 until it's all warm and bubbly.
Eat. Enjoy!

Easy Baked Eggplant
serves about 4
-1 medium Eggplant, diced
-1 pint Mushrooms, quartered
-1/2 Onion, diced
-1-2 cloves of Garlic, diced finely
-Red Pepper Flakes, optional
-Jar of Pasta Sauce (not the entire thing, just enough to cover each layer)

Prepare you eggplant and soak it in salt water for 15 minutes, drain and rinse it. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add the onions, when the onions are about half soft, add the garlic. Let cook until the onions and garlic are translucent and then dump in the mushrooms and eggplant. A little red pepper at this point never hurt anyone, unless they have a sensitive mouth. Let cook until everything is soft and browned.

Remove from heat and assemble in an 8x8 or small casserole dish. a thin layer of pasta sauce, a layer of the eggplant mixture, a layer of pasta sauce, a layer of cheese. Repeat and end with the cheese on top.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-25 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes and if you can find some wilted fresh basil, throw that on top.

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