About this time every year we face the challenge of using the remaining produce canned or frozen from last year. There are a few freezer bags of tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, peppers, and kale taking up real estate in the deep freezer from 2020. There are still several jars of pickled banana peppers and chutney from last year’s canning.
Meal planning becomes a concerted effort to eat what we still have leftover from last year. We not only need room in the freezer for the fast approaching garden harvest, but neither of us are keen on eating food that has been stored too long. So tonight we had beefy eggplant parmigiana. While I have enclosed the recipe in which I worked from, I did halve the recipe to four servings. As much as we enjoy leftovers, a more sensible approach to portions and meal-planning precludes cooking too much of the same thing! I also substituted ingredients for what I preferred to use or what we had on hand.
I used frozen eggplant slices that I had battered, lightly fried, blotted, and froze in gallon-size Ziploc freezer storage bags in 2020. One bag was enough to make two layers in an 8 x 8” baking dish. Before layering them, I fried them in about 1/2″ of hot oil and then drained them on paper towels.
Our own tomato sauce was also substituted in this recipe – one gallon freezer bag of cored and quartered Roma tomatoes from last year’s harvest was made into sauce this morning in the Instant Pot. I used my own simple recipe which calls for butter, salt, pepper, sugar, minced garlic, and Italian seasoning to taste. We did not have any fresh parsley, but we did have plenty of fresh basil growing in pots which we like even better. So I shredded that sprinkled it over the top of the dish before baking. Other than these changes, the recipe remained largely the same except I did use an egg, cottage cheese, and parmesan cheese mixture as a substitute for the parmesan cheese layer.
We both agreed that this was one of the best eggplant dishes we know. Served with warm mashed potatoes leftover from last night’s meal, buttered and broiled ciabatta rolls, and cucumber zucchini salad – we were two happy Friars. Later after the kitchen was tidied, the dishwasher was chugging away, and the coffee was set to brew for the morning, we sat and read. Happily looking forward to the other half of the eggplant which we plan to eat tomorrow.