Fall Bounty

[Posted by Ruth]

The late summer/early fall boxes have been brimming with great stuff.  Eggplants, leeks, ripe tomatoes, the sweetest corn of the year so far and more.  I wanted to put a meal together that let me dive right into the box this week.  The eggplant, leeks and tomatoes definitely seemed to belong together and I'd been reading a lot about oven frying eggplant slices, so I decided on a deconstructed version of Eggplant Parmesan.

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan
serves 4
1 recipe Oven Fried Eggplant, see below
1 recipe Tomato/Leek sauce, see below, or your favorite sauce - it should be quite thick
8 oz smoked mozzarella or fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Heat oven to 375.  Leave the eggplant slices in the pan (see below), spoon sauce on top, enough to cover,  top with sliced cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly; about 5-10 minutes, depending on how warm everything already is when you put it in the oven.

First to the oven fried eggplant.  Is it just as good as pan fried eggplant?  Of course not.  Don't be an idiot.  Fried is crisper and better.  But, unless you're working hard at gaining weight, why not find a good alternative?  I was intrigued by the recipes that incorporated mayonnaise and wanted to try that.  I didn't think it was worth the bother to coat both sides and flip over half way through cooking and decided to also add some cheese to the mix.  We all liked it that way so, for me, this one is definitely a keeper.

Oven Fried Eggplant

2 medium/large eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2" discs
Salt and pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 T olive oil, plus more for greasing pans

Preheat oven to 375 and grease 2 heavy jelly roll pans.  Toss the sliced eggplant with a little salt and pepper and set aside.  Blend the mayonnaise, bread crumbs, cheese and olive oil.  Season with a bit more salt and pepper to taste.  Spread the mayonnaise mixture on one side of  each eggplant disc.  Spread enough to cover fully but not too thickly.  Place uncoated side down on greased pans and bake at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans once or twice to ensure even browning.  When topping is nicely browned and eggplant is cooked through remove from oven and let sit a while before trying to handle if you are using these in a different recipe.

For our version, I made a fresh tomato leek sauce and we topped it offt with smoked mozzarella.  The verdict on the smoked mozzarella was split.  Half of us preferred the flavor and the other half would have preferred the less dry fresh mozzarella. 

Tomato/Leek Sauce
This was a good way to use the herbs our CSA provided us to plant earlier in the season

4 or 5 Large ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
2 large leeks, white part only, halved and sliced thinly
2 T olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary
6 sprigs oregano
1 small bunch fresh basil
5 sprigs thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil and add the leeks.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often until they soften.  Add the diced tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a steady simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened.  To use to top the eggplant discs, cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the sauce is quite thick.