I have a plethora of seemingly complicated yet interesting recipes collected from the pages of magazines, food packaging, and grocery inserts that are waiting to be made. Most nights I resort to something from the freezer, but every now and then I like to be reminded of my pre-mommy days where I had hordes of disposable time. I was left to actually attempt these recipes and do self-indulgent bullshit like Mango Millefeuille with Tropical Fruit Salad. If I could go back and slap my June 15, 2010 self I would.
While I can't remember uttering the words "I'm so bored I could bake three dozen homemade cupcakes" since the birth of my daughter - I do get the rare opportunity to hand her off to the hubby and say "dinner will be ready in 20 minutes..."
Lie.. Lie.. Lie.
While this recipe reads like a three part Shakespearean play, it actually wasn't as hard as it seemed. Albiet deciphering the difference between green onions and chives threw me off a bit. Still - I had everything on the table in about an hour from start to finish.
An hour may sound like a long time to make a meal, but consider what else you could be doing to fill an hour. Things like washing toddler poop out of cloth diapers and picking up jumbo plastic blocks for the 1000th time in the same day come to mind. I'd rather spend an hour lost in my kitchen pretending the world solely exists for me to present a meal worthy of a Wifey. That or at least worthy of not getting cut from an early episode of Hell's Kitchen.
This dish is pretty sexy, I must say. It's the herbed Neufchatel that really melts my butter. So delicious. A glass of wine is a must. Lesson here is you can still have a sexy dinner for two... even when there's a little certain somebody making this face at the other end of the table...
- 1 organic eggplant
- 1 cup organic Panko bread crumbs
- 3 organic eggs
- ¼ t. sea salt
- ¼ t. black pepper
- ¼ t. garlic powder
- ¼ cup organic safflower oil
- 2 cups Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
- ¼ organic onion, diced
- 2 cloves organic garlic, chopped
- 1 T. organic capers
- ½ cup organic artichoke hearts, quartered
- ¼ cup organic black pitted olives
- 1 T. organic olive oil
- 8 oz. organic Neufchatel cheese
- 2 T. fresh organic chives
- 1 T. fresh organic parsley, chopped
- ¼ t. garlic powder
- 1/8 t. black pepper
- 1/8 t. sea salt
PreparationFirst thing you want to do is slice and"sweat" the eggplant. You can also peel it should you be so inclined.
Sweating (as I learned) is salting the eggplant on both sides and letting it "sweat" for 30 minutes. There are two schools of thought where one believes sweating makes the eggplant less bitter while the other thinks it's a waste of time. Personally, this is the first time I've done it and I really liked it.
It also made the timing of the dish come out perfectly. I sliced then salted the eggplant and set the timer for 30 minutes. By the time it was done sweating, the sauce was made and I was ready to fry.
On frying - I added a step of dredging the eggplant slices through a bit of all-purpose flour before dipping in egg. Got this tip from a recipe for homemade chicken tenders. Really made the Panko stick better. Why? I have no idea.
Another note - you can use cream cheese if you haven't any Neufchatel. ♪ ♫ ♬ We haven't any Neufchatel today ♪ ♫ ♬
For the Puttanesca:
In a medium sauce pan with a lid, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil with a pinch of salt. Add the olives, capers, artichokes and sauce. Simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes and set aside.
For the Herb Neufchatel:
Bring the Neufchatel to room temperature. In a small mixing bowl add the chives, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
For the Eggplant:
Slice the eggplant into 1 inch disks. Beat the three eggs in a medium sized bowl. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and add the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Dip the eggplant in the egg mixture, remove, and place on top of the breadcrumbs. Cover the eggplant slice with the breadcrumb mixture making sure that the bread crumbs stick to the entire exterior of the eggplant. Repeat this process for all the eggplant slices. Heat the safflower oil in medium frying pan. Fry the eggplant in the oil until both sides are golden brown, about two minutes per side. Depending on the size of the frying pan, do not cook more then 3-5 slices at once. Place the cooked eggplant slices onto a paper towel to absorb additional cooking oil.
To Finish the Dish:
Place about a half cup of the puttanesca sauce onto the center of a medium sized plate. Place one eggplant round on top of the sauce. Top the eggplant with 1 Tablespoon of the herb Neufchatel. Top with another eggplant slice followed by another Tablespoon of Neufchatel. Top the stack with a final eggplant slice and garnish with some whole chives and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Recipe lifted with love from Mile High Organics - hence all the organic ingredients. No one will judge (or notice) if you use non-organic capers, or if you use Kosher salt instead of Sea Salt or green onions instead of chives because you thought they were the same thing. You also won't be judged if you fail to read the recipe thoroughly before starting and slice your eggplant lengthwise instead of into "1 inch round discs". That's what I did and I'm f*ckin awesome. <- high five me! Classy moms never judge. We also say f*ckin when there are no little ears around.