While cooking, listen to this: Say You'll Be There by The Spice Girls
Talk about a case of the Mondays! Yesterday was one for the books, let me tell you. It was one of those days where a lot of little things added up to yield a pretty mediocre day. Nothing a hot shower, hearty dinner and episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch couldn't fix. Thank you late 90's nostalgia!
All in all, it wasn't a truly awful day, I mean, I've had worse. I just have to give myself a little credit, take a deep breath and stay positive. I mean, Michigan did win Saturday night's game with a mind-blowingly magical buzzer beater. So, there are things to cheer about. I pride myself in my realistic optimism - instead of having my head in the clouds, I turn my face towards the sun while keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground. But sometimes, even the sunniest of personalities require a little brooding. Mondays suck for everyone, so don't beat yourself up.
And speaking of silver linings, let me tell you about the one that's about to change your Passover (or next case of the Mondays) - this eggplant parmesan from one of our favorite bloggers, Cookie + Kate. After noticing a gaping hole in our blog where the Passover recipes should be, Rina and I resolved to focus on chametz-free goodies for the rest of the month. I promise, you most certainly won't be disappointed. Playing keep away with your favorite bread-products will be mindless once you've whipped up this recipe.
Doused in an insanely easy marinara sauce and endless amounts of cheese, you'll be replacing greasy Italian takeout with this beauty in no time. Our blog's life purpose is to prove that vegetarian main dishes don't have to be sad, and this one takes the cake. It's hearty, flavorful and nothing turns a frown upside down like golden, gooey cheese (unless, of course, your lactose intolerant, in which case, you might want to sit this one out).
Hands down, this dish is one heck of a way to end a particularly gloopy Monday. Especially when paired with a favorite childhood TV show.
On to Tuesday folks - we're 24 hours closer to Friday than we were yesterday!
PASSOVER-FRIENDLY EGGPLANT PARMESAN
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15m | Cook Time: 45m | Total Time: 1h 15m (includes cooling)
Category: Main, Passover, Gluten-Free
Source: Cookie + Kate
Special Equipment: pastry brush
3 pounds eggplant (3 small or 2 medium)
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup tomato paste*
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup basil, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1 ½ - 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
*Buy your tomato paste in a resealable tube! I have yet to meet a person who can go through an entire can of tomato paste before it goes bad. This way, problem solved. Thanks for the advice, mama Ruth!
Roast the eggplant: preheat the oven to 425F and line a couple baking trays with parchment paper. Slice the ends off the eggplants and cut them lengthwise into ¼-½ inch slabs. Don't use the slabs that are covered in eggplant skin (use them in a stew or cube them up and sautee them). Place them on the parchment-lined baking trays and brush both sides of each slab with olive oil. Do NOT pour the olive oil on top and try to brush, the eggplant will soak it up "faster than you can say quidditch." Pour some oil in a bowl and brush onto the eggplant directly. Season with salt and pepper, and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until they've gone a golden roast-y color.
Make the tomato sauce: in a large saucepan or medium pot, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until the oil goes all shimmery. Add in the diced onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 or so minutes. Stir occasionally so that nothing burns or sticks to the bottom. Add the garlic and tomato paste, mix well and cook for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Once it's simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's thickened up a bit. Remove from the heat and add in the chopped basil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes and salt. Taste, and add more salt or red pepper flakes if necessary.
Assemble! Kate uses a 9-inch square baking dish, but I don't own one of those, so I used a 9 X 13 baking dish instead and it worked fine. Spread ¾ cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish and add the first layer of eggplant slices, cutting or overlapping them slightly if necessary. Add another ¾ cup of sauce on top and spread evenly, followed by a sprinkling of ¼ cup or so of mozzarella. Do this two more times, so that you now have three layers of eggplant, sauce and cheese. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese, and bake in the oven at 425F for 20-25 minutes, uncovered, until the top is bubbly and golden. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes so that it can set a bit, then add basil for garnish** if you'd like and dig in.
**If you want to get fancy with the basil, you can chiffonade it by rolling a bunch of basil leaves like a cigarette/blunt/thing you NEVER smoke and slicing it width-wise. You'll be left with some pretty basil ribbons.