Tonight marks my final foray into cooking for who knows how long… I made Eggplant Parmesan, from scratch, and in an easily veganised form. This is one for the book, methinks! So here is how it went down: first, I sliced up one eggplant, topped, tailed, and the skin mostly peeled off in strips, but not entirely. The slices were arranged on a plate and lightly salted, to leach out the bitter juices. Next, I tore up some stale bread, tossed it in Jax’s Cuisinart with some salt, basil, oregano, and thyme, and spun the stuff around & around till it was evenly crumbled.
Then I prepared some fake eggs – using 9 Tbl of warm water, & 3 Tbl of ground flax seeds. (This is a 3:1 ratio, and I am not fond of doing conversions, so yes 9 tablespoons…) this was mixed in a bowl, and then set to chill in the fridge.
Then the sauce… I actually began this attack on the kitchen because I had some stewed tomatoes left over from when I made a curry last week. So I chopped 4 cloves of garlic, one pretty good sized shallot, and sauteed them until just brown in olive oil. Then I threw in a mix of fresh herbs, rosemary, thyme, and basil, these were all stemmed and roughly chopped, at that point I was wishing I had the little herb chopper I had mentioned previously, but it still hasn’t shown up in the mail, so I used a silly little knife instead. So the herbs are in, & now comes a liberal dousing of red wine, I used an Argentinian Malbec, the first diversion from any cultural sense in the recipe…
I then chopped up a stemmed and gilled portabella, and added that, along with the chopped tomatoes. I also added the tomato juice (from the can o’ toms), a bit more water, and a dash or two of salt. I let this simmer for a while, then cool for one minute before blending it all up in the Cuisinart, in batches. Then back into the pot it all went, to simmer a while longer.
In a large, deep frying pan, I heated an inch of canola oil, and meanwhile dipped the salted eggplant slices, first in the flax egg, which has been stirred up with a bit more water for consistency, and then in the bread crumbs. the faux eggs, made from flax and water, will become a gooey mass after just a few minutes in the fridge, or even without cooling, but it helps…I have often baked with this substitution, and it works wonderfully, but this is the first time I have tried any technical cooking with the stuff…
Each slice is set on a plate, until all of the slices are breaded (I did run a bit low on the bread crumbs…) . Once they are all set, and the oil in the pan is nice and hot – I set them all in the oil, frying them for a few minutes on each side, and using metal tongs to flip them mid-way. The main lesson learned from this experimentation is: thinner slices, and hotter oil! Don’t be scared! (a deep fryer is really nifty if you are going to do stuff like this often, or if you are addicted to tater tots, which are truly superior when deep-fried!)
The eggplant slices were then set on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain, and the oven was pre-heated to 350*. To prepare my plate, I set 3 slices of eggplant in an oven save serving bowl, covered them with two generous ladlings of sauce, and then covered that with grated white cheddar and sliced kalamatas. I baked all of this for 10 minutes or so, and then chowed down.
I do concede that it would make more sense to bake more than one dish at a time, in a pan – and also that n order to be more Italian in the 0verall preparation, I would have gone for a Sangiovese (red wine, good with tomato sauce…) mozzarella cheese, and the mellower black olives – But I am on a budget here, and I just used what was already lying around, and it was all quite good!
So this means, that now Vegan Eggplant Parmesan is totally feasible, there is still plenty of fine tuning to be done, sure, but we are well on out way.