I enjoy cooking, and this summer I’ve been cooking a lot. Tonight was eggplant parmesan, and let me tell you, this dish is a labor of love (and breadcrumbs). It sounds so easy but from the time I started until I sat down to eat, three and a half hours had passed.
Thus, my “yikes!”
You need eggplant (obvi), breadcrumbs, oil, eggs, cheese, and sauce. Throw it together and bake. Easy, right?
Peel the eggplant. Slice it longways with your mandoline, and decide that for once you are not going to salt it and drain it, since this is the really pretty graffiti eggplant that isn’t as spongy as your dark purple aubergines. While the mandoline is out you say what the heck, and slice up the onion with it. And the garlic (which really wasn’t that effective, but hey, I had mandoline fever). And the mozzarella! Brilliant! except not! But all the slicing was done, so onward.
Let the eggplant sit for a bit. The poor things have been through the wringer, so they need to recover. Decide to make the marinara sauce, but make enough for tonight, tomorrow, and all of next week. Drag out the big sauce pot, throw in the olive oil, heat it up, and throw in the onions and garlic. Open two cans of paste top and bottom; this way you press all the paste out and don’t go nuts trying to scrape every last bit out of the tiny can. Fry it up with the sauteeing onions and garlic and pass out from the heavenly smell. Once it looks like it’s pretty incorporated, throw in two cans each of diced tomatoes and pureed tomatoes, plus basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir it up really well. If you stir it up lousy, something terrible is sure to happen. When it boils and deposits ugly blotches all over your white stovetop, turn it down to a simmer and cover it and leave it alone in time out.
Hey, remember the eggplant? Get out your big cast iron skillet that your parents used for over 30 years and put some canola oil in. I’m a canola girl. Now you have to beat some eggs and get some panko breadcrumbs ready. I’ve stopped using normal (?) breadcrumbs because of all the processed ingredients in it and the high amounts of sugar. I’m not a huge eater of super healthy stuff, but I try to avoid more processed stuffs the older I get. Dip the properly chastised eggplant in the egg, press the panko firmly on it, and place into the pan. You can’t put more than four or five slices in at a time, and your stack of waiting eggplant slices is about half a mile high, so you’re going to be here for a while. Get annoyed because the first batch isn’t sizzling as much as you’d like, and realize you didn’t wait long enough for the oil to get shiny.
Suddenly everything happens at once. You realize you left the new package of breadcrumbs, along with oatmeal and wheat germ, at the store. Younger Daughter who just got home (scoring some mighty fine bargains on her shopping trip, she is SO me) is instructed to call store. Yep. It’s there, just been listed as “forgotten bag” and I can come get it. Hubby will have to get it as I have that half-mile high stack of eggplant to rassle, and they say all he has to do is describe the items. Older Daughter is texting and the phone is ringing. Gah!
Things keep moving, the eggplant is taking its time and things are sizzling quite nicely. Hubby calls from supermarket. Guess what? They put my items back on the shelf. They’ve been paid for, they said they would hold them, and they put them back to re-sell them. Not cool, supermarket. Not cool. A sternly worded letter is going to somebody sometime when the half-mile eggplant stack is whittled down.
Stir the sauce! You don’t want it to stick!
Finally finish the eggplant. Grab the baking dish, ladle the sauce, and begin stacking the eggplant, mozzarella, and sauce in layers. Get it all done neatly with about 1/32″ to spare. Prudently place cookie sheet under casserole dish and shove into oven which you are positive you set at 375 degrees but is now showing 200. Really, oven? Et tu?
I’m happy to report that the eggplant was gratefully devoured by an appreciative family and the wonderful Hubby of supermarket escapades washed ALL. THE. DISHES. He is such a keeper!
No really, I enjoy cooking. Now imagine if I’d tried to take pictures like a food blogger. Good heavens, I’d be under the table chewing my cuticle. How do those people do it? I admire their acrobatic and organizational skills, not to mention their styling of food. Guaranteed my camera would have ended up in the sauce.
Is there a meal you will painstakingly create? If so, can I come over?