Monday, March 30, 2020

Eggplant Parmesan

This Eggplant Parmesan recipe is the very first recipe I ever created on my own and I am quite proud of it.  I basically adapted it from my mother's lasagna recipe and substituted eggplant for the lasagna noodles.  The type and quality of the ingredients has changed over the years (the original recipe called for cottage cheese as we did not even know that ricotta cheese existed, and the parmesan cheese came from that green shaker) but the base has remained the same.

You can make the tomato sauce up to three days ahead (or more, if you freeze it).  Some people salt their eggplant and leave it to macerate for a while to remove any bitterness but I have not found that to be necessary.  Your mileage may vary.

The recipe is also versatile.  Don't have or don't like eggplant? You can use zucchini or potatoes instead.  Sometimes I'll throw mushrooms on top of the eggplant.  And if nothing else, you can use pasta and call it lasagna!

It is a great dish to make for a large group.  I always get compliments when I serve it.  You will, too!

Home Cooking v9.76 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
1 batch Italian Style Tomato Sauce
1 large eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/8" thick
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb mozarrela cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmigiano regiano cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Spread a large spoonful of the sauce on the bottom of a 15" x 9.5" baking dish. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer over the sauce. Spread one third of the ricotta mixture over the eggplant and then spread one third of the tomato sauce over that. Repeat two more times, with the top layer being the shredded mozarella cheese.

Cover and bake for one hour. Remove the cover and sprinkle the parmigiano regiano over the top and bake uncovered for another half hour, or until the cheese is golden and the eggplant is completely tender.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Italian Style Tomato Sauce

I have been making this tomato sauce for years but I have never posted the recipe.  What makes it special is the grated carrot that I add.  It gives the sauce a little more body and sweetness that makes folks wonder what there is about it that makes it so good.  At some point a few years ago I got lazy about grating the carrot and stopped adding it.  The sauce was still tasty, but not as good as it could and should have been.  So lately I have been adding it back in and all is right with the world.

This sauce can be used for anything but it is especially delicious when used in casseroles like lasagna and eggplant parmagiana.  But it is equally delicious over pasta with a generous sprinkling of Parmigiana Reggiano over it.  It can be refrigerated for several days and freezes especially well.
Home Cookin v9.76 Chapter: My Recipes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, grated
6 oz can tomato paste
24-1/2 oz jar passata or tomato sauce
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomato
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook for aminute, then add the garlic. Cook until the onion is just translucent. Add the grated carrot and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, stirring constantly, then add the passata, tomato, and the spices. Add a cup of water and stir everyihing together. Bring to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened and turned dark, for at least an hour up to two hours. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste.

1 March 2020

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Monday, March 09, 2020

Mediterranean Style Baked Tofu

I've been baking with a lot of tofu lately, mostly with an Asian profile.  As soon as I got the idea to try it with Mediterranean flavors I knew I was on to something.  It's rare that I get a new recipe right on the first try but I pretty much hit it out of the ballpark with this.

The key to the dish's success, as with most tofu dishes, is to be sure to marinate it for at least a few hours before you make the dish.  The longer it marinates, the more flavor soaks up into the tofu.

If you're looking for new ways to enjoy you should give this a try.  I think you will be quite happy with the results.
Home Cooking v9.76 Chapter: Beans and Vegetables
For Marinade:
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 13.5 oz cans artichoke hearts in water
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon crushed dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1 to 2 cups Castelvetrano or other green olives with pits
1/2 large fennel bulb, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
2 large shallots, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Combine the first nine ingredients in a large plastic bag and make sure everything is well coated with the olive oil and spices. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least a few hours or overnight.

Remove the tofu mixture from the refrigerator about half an hour before you are ready to get started and preheat the oven to 375° F.

Combine the rest of the vegetables in a large bowl and add the marinated tofu and artichoke hearts. Add the olive oil and sat and gently mix everything together until everything is well coated with the mixture from the marinated tofu and artichoke hearts. Pour into a 13 x 9 inch pan (you might also need an additional smaller pan depending on how big the vegetables were). Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and lower the heat to 350° F. and bake another 30 minutes, until everything is tender.


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