The Covered Dish
By Debbie Dance Uhrig
Another busy week has literally flown by. Our work on the home-front continues. This time next year there won’t be any painting or landscaping to do, which will be nice.
An interesting occurrence spurred me into sharing my recipe this week. I’m sharing my super easy Eggplant dish, with you this week. It can also be found in my first cookbook, ‘Simply Yours’.
We are at a big home repair store picking out more stones, for our landscaping project. I suggest we grab a bite at a drive-thru because it is sooo late. We decided upon a drive thru Italian restaurant. The food was great but the red sauce stains on my white shirt, were not. I even dripped it on the seat belt, this is not a good way to ‘eat out’. Good thing the food was good or I would really be stewing! Now I have to get those stains out of the seat belt, oh joy! Never a dull moment with this crew.
Let’s step back and share a few interesting things about eggplant:
Years ago I was told that I should ‘always’ soak my sliced eggplant in salt water about 30 minutes before cooking. Others told me to just salt it and leave it sit for 30 minutes, then rinse, batter and prepare. Everyone indicated you just never knew when you would get a bitter eggplant; so instead of leaving it to guess always soak first. I used this philosophy for many years and then…….
I started studying the vegetable species. There are both male and female eggplants. At the base of the vegetable you see its bottom or what is commonly referred to as the belly button. Cute, huh? Anyway if the base is circular/round it is a male eggplant. If the bottom is more like a slit or you just can’t decide, it’s most likely a female plant. The female plant carries a large amount of seeds (think reproduction here) and the male species does not. When you eat an eggplant that has sort of an off taste, perhaps a bit wangy, it was probably a female. The female eggplant is also contoured more rounded versus the typical eggplant shape. Which plant do you pick at the market or grocery store? The male because it has less seeds and the flavor will be better! Also try to pick the smaller eggplant for the best outcome.
To peel or not to peel? Personal choice is what I always say. I like to leave it on just to help hold the form during the cooking process if I’m frying or baking. Now let’s talk frying an eggplant. I agree it is delicious fried, however an eggplant is like a sponge when it comes to the frying skillet. Eggplants absorb a huge amount of oil. Lately I’ve started baking mine in the oven and I find I enjoy it much better.
In the past 3-4 years I have been lightly sautéing eggplant and eating it like a side vegetable. No cheese, no batter, just ‘clean’ eating. It’s great this way. You can add a little sauce or ‘light’ cheese just before serving. Play around with fresh basil, parsley or fresh ground pepper as a garnish. When I prepare it this way I always leave the skin on too.
Tip of the week: Don’t eat red sauces inside a car!
Sink into a new book this week, or plan a drive-way gathering with friends. Don’t let Mr. Covid put a total damper on your life. Be creative get busy and don’t sit idle. Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
Italian Aubergine (Eggplant)
1 medium eggplant
1 jar chunky spaghetti sauce
Italian bread crumbs
Fresh Parmesan cheese
Basil, fresh or dried
I’m not giving exact amount because I have no idea how much you want to make. Let’s settle on 1 eggplant or at least 4-5 slices when you cut the vegetable lengthwise. Remove the skin if desired. Try to select a male eggplant (see above column) and if you’re not sure then soak the slices in salted water for about 30 minutes. Rinse and pat the slices dry. Spray the baking dish and lay in eggplant with a light covering of Italian bread crumbs. Sprinkle with garlic powder and pepper, pouring the spaghetti sauce over the top. Cover with freshly shredded parmesan cheese, then top with thinly sliced romas and additional cheese. If you use fresh basil be sure to put it under the cheese before baking. Bake at 350 degrees until it’s hot and bubbly. Serves 4.