Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Veggie'ng Out

Tonight, dear readers, I introduce you to my most requested dish. This has been my fallback meal because it's healthy, cheap, warm, delicious and dependable. (It also makes great leftovers, especially if you stick it in a baguette.)

This dish--in its many variations--has traveled the world with me. I made it in Los Angeles for a big dinner with all my friends. I made it in a fraternity house in Berkeley, where I couldn't be sure I wasn't getting eggplant-infused diseases. I made it in a hostel in Budapest during Passover, adding matzah for some extra crunch. I made it in a small Spanish town called Conil de la Frontera, where I cooked for 9 people and the stove kept short circuiting every time I tried to sautee the eggplant. And now, in San Francisco. I can vouch for it: if you like eggplant, cheese, and red sauce, and you like having money left in your wallet, this one is for you.



1 Eggplant ($1.49)
1 jar Clasico carmelized onion and roasted garlic tomato sauce ($1.99)
About 1 cup parmesan cheese - I like Trader Joe's shaved Asiago, Romano, Parmesan ($2.99)
Garlic or garlic powder
Olive oil

The Grand Total: $6.47, which will make you at least 2-3 servings (I like taking it to work for a hot lunch the following day.)


Preheat the over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the eggplant (I like to do it width-wise, but you could do either) into thin slices. Lay the eggplant slices in one flat layer in a glass casserole dish or on a cookie sheet.

Drizzle with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and try to spread the olive oil around with your fingers or a spoon. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder--about 1 teaspoon each of salt and garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Note: I usually use about 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic chopped up, but I was lazy after a long day.

Roast the eggplant for about 40 minutes, or until it starts to be translucent but not brown. (At this point, I like to reserve some of the eggplant for my sandwiches or salads later in the week.) Pour in the whole jar of tomato sauce. The more the merrier, in my opinion. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese, and mozzarella too if you have it, on top of the sauce. Now, broil for about 10 minutes. Good to the last bite every time.
Note: If you are in a time crunch, sautee the eggplant instead of roasting it. Just put olive oil in a sautee pan over medium heat, and sautee the eggplant in batches so that it becomes translucent. Then just layer it in a casserole dish and broil it, following this recipe, if you want it to be crispy on top. Or, if you don't mind eating delicious "eggplant shmush," as my friend Becca calls it, just toss the sauce and cheese and all the eggplant into your sautee pan until it's all hot. Then, plate it and gobble up.

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