For dinner tonight I knew I needed to use up the last of my Teese and the eggplant in the fridge before they went bad, and since I was hoping to try my hand at eggplant parmesan it worked out swimmingly. A quick trip to the grocery store yielded the rest of the supplies.
Having never made eggplant parm before, I studied up on the internet. Unfortunately, I really wasn’t in the mood for the traditional accompaniment of pasta marinara since I had spaghetti for dinner last night, a couple bites cold after packing my lunch this morning, and then again for lunch. I REALLY didn’t want any more pasta or marinara. I wanted to beef up the protein in this meal and wasn’t completely against a red sauce, so it became roasted red pepper-lentil-basil sauce. I still wanted a grain and strongly considered polenta, but I didn’t think it would hold up to the eggplant and the sauce, so I decided on bread. I like to make my own bread as often as possible, but the scope of this meal was spiralling larger by the second, so I bought the one brand name loaf that I really like. No HFCS, sweetened with raisin juice!
I normally buy roasted red peppers in the jar, and was feeling lazy and leaning toward it today, but I came across these instructions for roasting a pepper at VeganYumYum so I went for it. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have a gas range, gotta take advantage of it!
Yeah, my stovetop is filthy. Deal with it. Here’s the molted pepper.
At the same time, I had already sliced and salted the eggplant to draw out some moisture, and I was cooking the lentils and snapping off the ends of my green beans.
I’m not very good at breading things, so I was worried about breading the eggplant. I took some tips from here, although theirs still look better. I think my breadcrumbs weren’t quite fine enough (ground them from a stale half loaf of bread I knew I was keeping in the fridge with a purpose, not just because I’m lazy…), and my eggplant was baked instead or fried. Anywho, I set up the breading station – I rinsed the eggplant slices, made a cornstarch slurry and microwaved it a couple 15 second bursts, and seasoned the breadcrumbs with nutritional yeast, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Then into the oven at 350 they went for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Meanwhile I made the sauce by pureeing the roasted red pepper, an undrained can of diced tomatoes and some of the cooked lentils. I added this back to the pan with the rest of the lentils, added olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and simmered to cook down the liquid a bit. With a minute or two left I added this pretty chiffonade of basil, just to wilt it.
When the eggplant were cooked, I topped each slice with some of the sauce, almond parmesan and sliced Teese. Back into the oven at 400 for a couple minutes, then broiled for a couple minutes to melt the Teese. I toasted my bread, plated everything, and took about 10 pictures. Hungry and very ready to eat, I realized I had forgotten to add the basil garnish I had set aside for just that purpose. I’m glad I took the time to take a few more pictures, because having that focal point made all the difference in the world for the aesthetics of the picture. I didn’t keep any ungarnished photos, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
In the end, this was a worthy use for the last of the Teese log. The eggplant spent so much time in the oven that it was a tad overdone, but I’d rather have a squishy eggplant than one that’s not cooked through. While the sauce tasted really nice, it was quite hardy and overbalanced the eggplant a little. Next time I make this I’ll just not have spaghetti the three meals immediately preceding.