It’s not like I stay up at night wondering how I’m going to get my kids to eat eggplant, but when the situation presents itself — in the form of an enormous garden-fresh farm share delivery — I’d be crazy not to try right? On Wednesday, Andy and I both came home from work later than we wanted to and found ourselves, drink in hand, pondering a mound of misshapen cucumbers, onions, chard, zucchini, parsley, stone fruits (jackpot!), and deep purple little eggplants that our neighbor, who’s traveling, asked us to claim in her absence.
“Should we go veg tonight?” Andy asked.
“Definitely,” I said, examining the loot. “I’ll take the eggplant, you take the chard.”
Andy broke out the smoked paprika, attacked an onion in record speed, and before I knew it the Dutch Oven was filled to the rim with confetti’d chard. I did what I always do when there’s even a question that the girls will approach a new food with skepticism:
1) I set up dredging stations (egg, flour, breadcrumbs) and start frying.
2) I put off the girls’ requests for chips and salsa before dinner — hunger being the best sauce and all.
3) I do whatever I can to transform the new-food-in-question into pizza.
Did it work? Yes. They inhaled the things like wild beasts. Can I check off “eggplant” on my mental checklist of “foods they like.” Hmm. Not yet. As I’m not entirely convinced they knew they were eating it.
Don Pepino‘s pizza sauce is by far my favorite. It has a beautiful bright red color and all their tomato products taste crazy fresh. In my neck of the woods, I can only find it in a few out-of-the-way specialty stores, so we don’t have it on hand as often as I’d like.
2 small eggplants, sliced thin (like you see in above picture)
1 garlic clove, havled
Flour for dredging
2 whisked eggs for dredging
1 to 2 cups of panko for breading
salt and pepper
1 cup prepared pizza sauce (such as Don Pepino!)
about a dozen bocconcini (fresh mozzarella balls), sliced
handful of freshly grated Parmesan
a few basil leaves, shredded
Sweat your eggplants: Add eggplant slices to a colander and salt heavily. (This helps extract the bitterness, but you can skip this step if your eggplants are garden fresh.) Let sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
Set up your dredging stations: One plate flour, one plate eggs, one plate panko. Add salt and pepper to everything. Add olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Swirl garlic halves in the oil for about one minute. Dip eggplant slices first in flour, then in eggs, then in panko. Add to oil and fry about 2 minutes a side until crispy and cooked through. Remove to a cookie sheet and repeat until all slices are fried.
Heat broiler to high. Top each eggplant slice with a spoonful of pizza sauce, a few slices of mozzarella, and a lot of Parm. Broil for about 3 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden. Garnish with basil shreds.