Harvests are potential bounty. They only matter if you actually use what you have harvested. I have not had a garden this year and I have missed the potential. But visiting farm stands this summer produced some mouth watering moments for me. Here is one such moment.
1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 cups chopped kale, tough stems removed
1 teaspoon salt
6 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup water
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
3 ounces Romano cheese, grated
Peel and slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and allow to rest for about 20 minutes. Beat eggs and milk in a shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs in another dish. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Pour two tablespoons into skillet. Dip each slice of eggplant in egg wash then coat with bread crumbs and place in skillet. Brown on one side and then turn over to brown the other. Place browned eggplant into an oven proof serving dish in a single layer and set aside. Pour remaining oil into skillet. Add onions and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add kale and salt and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes and basil, toss to mix. Cook for 5 minutes, until tomatoes begin to break down, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste and water. Cover skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook sauce, covered, 5 minutes longer. Spoon sauce onto eggplant slices (or put sauce under breaded slices) and top with cheeses. Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.
Hints: Spinach could be substituted for the kale if that puts you off. I used large eggplant but the thinner variety would work just as well. This is a one skillet way to cook the dish but you could be making the sauce and browning the eggplant at the same time in two pans. If using one pan, make sure to remove any blackened bread crumbs before beginning the sauce. I needed a 9x13 baking dish and a 7x10 dish as well to fit in all the eggplant I had. If you choose to place the sauce underneath the breaded eggplant, you will end up with a crispy top crust--both ways are good. And yes, once again I have opted for Romano cheese however, this time I included some Parmesan with it--do I get some credit for that?
Eggplant is beautiful. It takes to other flavorings so easily but must be salted and allowed to sit in order to lose it's natural bitterness. Adding kale was a risk that turned out well. Kale is also bitter but with the basil and tomatoes and the cooking time, it becomes quite nice in this sauce. (There may be a metaphor here for people and bitterness if I think about it long enough.) Taking a risk will often times prove to be beneficial. And those times it doesn't pay off...oh well! Learn from them and move on; it's only dinner!