Saturday, June 19, 2010
One day of harvest this season yielded us 12 Icheban Eggplants. These are Japanese Eggplants that grow longer and skinnier than the large Black Beauty Eggplants. I have some Black Beauty in the garden but they are slower to produce than these Icheban. I have found no difference in the flavor of these two types of eggplant, only a difference in the way I need to slice them in order to cook them properly.
With this many eggplants coming ripe at once, I prefer to prepare what some people call, "make ahead meals" or "freezer meals" for future use. Eggplant Parmesan is one of our favorites. We eat this dish on pizza night and also on the nights we have spaghetti served up with a side salad.
Preparation isn't anymore time consuming than making say, fried squash but by growing them and making them ahead, I am saving the cost of purchasing eggplant from my local grocer.
Following are the instructions for preparing Eggplant Parmesan for the freezer, my way:
These are the dozen or so eggplants I harvested from the garden. I probably should have washed them prior to taking the picture but I just wasn't thinking ahead.
Wash the eggplants then cut off the ends, peel and slice them. If I am processing Icheban Eggplants I cut the in half, then I slice them lengthwise for elongated slices. If I am processing the larger, rounder Black Beauty Eggplants, I slice them the other way for round slices.
I prepare my frying pan with olive oil and set it on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, then I begin cooking the slices. First I roll them in beaten eggs.
Then I roll them in bread crumbs blended with Parmesan cheese. This can be you favorite type of bread crumbs, seasoned or not.
Fry these in hot oil until crispy and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Once all of the slices have been fried and cooled completely, I begin the layering process. For storing away in the freezer I use the 8" x 8" x 1 1/2" aluminum pans that come with plastic lids which snap on. Here is a picture of the two pieces:
Using my favorite spaghetti sauce as the first layer, I smooth a few tablespoons around in the bottom of the pan. This is mainly to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan during the baking process later on.
The next layer is the fried eggplant.
Then I spread another layer of the spaghetti sauce on top of the slices.
Then I top the spaghetti sauce with shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
Then a layer of eggplant slices and continue repeating this process, ending with the cheese on top. In my case, I was able to get 2 layers of eggplant in my container.
Snap the lid on top and place in the freezer.
When I am planning this dish for one of my meals, I remove it from the freezer, thaw completely then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until hot all the way through.
I hope some of you find this to be helpful this season.
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