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Eggplant Parmigiano

My good friend, Margaret, has graciously shared her recipe of that wonderful dish we had on Labor Day weekend at her house.

The weather is getting perfect for a homey dish like this. Makes you want to crawl right into it … and eat it forever … pure yumminess! Hope you all enjoy.

Eggplant Parmigiano cropped on a white plate.

-serves 6 – 8

Eggplants, 8 small
Mozzarella, 2 balls
Parmigiano reggiano
Large bunch of basil
Tomatoes [maybe 3 to 3.5 lbs? cored and chopped]
Olive oil

Select eight smallish eggplants. I suggest eggplants that are slightly smaller than your hand. Slice into ½-inch rounds and sauté in olive oil until golden. Salt and pepper lightly, turn and continue to sauté until golden and tender. Add additional olive oil as needed. Drain on paper towels.

Slice two balls of mozzarella. Grate parmigiano reggiano. Chop a large bunch of basil. Set aside.

To make the tomato sauce, core and chop whatever ripe to over-ripe tomatoes you have at hand. Add sliced garlic and olive oil (about 1/4 cup for an 8 cup potful). Cook at a low boil until most of the water has evaporated, stirring as needed.

To hasten the process, use a potato masher to loosen the “meat” of the tomato chunks. Blend in a food processor until smooth. Preheat oven to 375 – 425 degrees, depending on your oven.

Layer in a baking dish: half of eggplant slices, half of tomato sauce, half of parmigiano (should cover all of the surface “thickly” but not too much), mozzarella, basil, and then the remainder of eggplant, tomato sauce and parmigiano. Bake covered for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake until the dish is bubbly and the cheese has browned.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Then cut into squares and mangia, mangia!

Birthday dinner!

Crab cakes and lettuce on white dinner plates.

Crab cake on a Boston lettuce leaf with organic watercress and chipotle mayo

Birthdays are always very special in our house. I am happy to cook a magnificent meal of the celebrated’s choice, served at the dining room table with china, crystal and sterling. However, this year, my oldest son requested a surprise. Dinner was to be of my choosing, so here’s what I made:

A cheese board with a variety of cheeses, dried apricots and walnuts

First course:
Crab cake on a bed of Boston lettuce and organic watercress with chipotle mayonnaise (search this blog for the recipe)

Main course:
Center cut pork chop with a grape and tarragon sauce (a Food and Wine recipe)
Homemade gnocchi with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (a Food and Wine recipe) – this was divine!
Roasted asparagus with olive oil and fresh mint (my simple recipe)

Vanilla pots with fresh strawberries (a Mark Bittman recipe)

Food and Wine's pork chop, gnocchi and roasted asparagus on a white plate.

Our evening was just great – a special time for just us to catch up on each others lives, watch funny You Tube videos together and of course it ended with viewing the return of Mad Men.

You know, it’s always wonderful to do a special dinner for just your family. When the kids were young, we used to do this every Sunday night. My husband insisted on this tradition, saying that we often entertained our friends specially and why shouldn’t we do it just for us. It gave us a time to regroup before starting the week and taught the boys how to behave at an elegant dinner. The conversation was slower and more interesting, providing a time for all of us to unwind. I hope you do this with your family, creating wonderful stories and memories along the way.