Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Veggies Parmesan

It's getting to be the end of oven season, but of course, I've said that before.  It's actually chilly and rainy now, but for two weeks, every other day Sous Chef Brian has been planning on setting up the air conditioner in the bedroom, and then by nighttime it's no longer a priority.  The weather is iffy.  But soon oven season will be over.   So let's bake up some dinner.

It's not quite time for these veg in our part of the world, but when it is time, it's also not oven time.  I get so adamant about not buying tomatoes until they're here (oh, and they're here) but when Sous Chef Brian came home from the grocery store with eggplant and summer squash, I just accepted it and decided to bake this up.   Of course it'd be better in July.

Take veg, slice thin, coat in panko, bake, layer with sauce and cheese and bake.  There, we're done.

Ooh, two bakes in there.  Yeah, this takes a minute. 

I started with an eggplant, a small yellow squash and a zucchini.  I cut them into discs with the mandoline, but a knife works too.  I feel like the mandoline is safer for thin slices, but I also gave myself a bit of an accidental manicure in the process.  The yellow squash was actually cut into longer slices, not discs.  I like having different shapes to fill a pan without the gaps left by circles.   I also thought I had way too much veg - this was four baking sheets worth, and I figured I'd be freezing some, but that was not the case.

Preheat the oven to 400.  Get some sauce going, or get ready to open a jar.  This is my go-to red sauce, when I don't have a bounty of tomatoes to work with.

Beat up a couple eggs in some milk.   I  used two eggs and just enough milk to almost cover them.  This was plenty for my eggplant and two squashes, so if you're using less, you can get away with one egg.  

Set out the breadcrumbs in a flat dish - I use a pie pan.  

I'm a believer in panko but other breadcrumbs are fine.   I typically either make my own or use panko, and my freezer supply of bread ends is too short to make breadcrumbs right now.  I started with about 2.5 cups of breadcrumbs, but kept adding, I think I used a total of four cups or so. Sprinkle in the types of seasonings you'd use in Italian food - I went with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and dried oregano and basil.    

Fork that together so the spices are mixed in.

Dip veg in egg, shake it off, press it into the bread crumbs, flip it, press it in again, and throw it on a baking sheet.  

Repeat.  Like I said, I had four baking sheets worth, which for my oven, is two rounds of baking.  

Put the veg in the oven for 10 minutes and flip, then about 10 minutes more.  The aim here is crispy.  You can oil your pan, or spritz your coated veg with oil, if you want them to get pretty and golden, but I'm not in it for looks.  

And these are fairly golden sans oil.

At this point, we have a dilemma.  Use a big baking dish, or eat a ton of them and use a smaller one.  Also, if you want to eat now, you can cover them with cheese, set them under the broiler to melt it and serve them on top of pasta.  Or just eat them.  But let's go on and make a casserole.

Coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce, and then layer them - sauce, parmesan, veg, repeat. 

I'm missing a cheese shot here - sorry, but I imagine you know what "sprinkle with cheese" looks like. Use the various shapes to fill in holes, or if you're using all eggplant or all zucchini or something, layer it a bit to avoid gaps.

I had three veg layers.

Top with cheese, tent with foil and into the oven for 30 minutes.  Take the foil off for the last 10 to let it brown a bit on top.

I'm testing out a new camera - I think there's an obvious difference in the photos. 
Yeah, like that. 

This makes many servings, 12-15?  And it freezes very well.  I cut individual servings, wrap in foil, label and freeze.

Ok, fine, but look at the first picture - I cut some of it pretty. 
The cat doesn't believe there's no meat in our dinner.

This recipe is cross-posted at the blog for the South Philly Food Co-op, whose mission is to open a member-owned cooperative grocery store that provides affordable and nutritious food to all residents of South Philadelphia while empowering the local community through sustainable practices, food-centric education, outreach, and community building.

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Veggies Parmesan
Lighter take on eggplant parm, with zucchini and yellow squash. Any combination of these works great.
  • 1 Eggplant, sliced thin
  • 1 Zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 Yellow Squash, sliced thin
  • 4 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 cups Pasta sauce
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 400Beat eggs together with milk. Non-dairy milk is fine here, as long as it's unsweetened. Prepare breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Mix with herbs. Dip sliced veggies into egg, shake to remove excess and then coat in breadcrumbs. Lay on baking sheet lined with a silicone mat, or covered with foil or parchment.Bake 20 minutes at 400, flipping once midway through. Aim for crispy and somewhat golden. Turn oven down to 350.Coat the bottom of a baking dish with sauce. Add a layer of breaded veggies, arranging for complete coverage without gaps.

Top with cheese and sauce, layer again.

The top layer should be breaded veg covered in cheese.
Tent with foil.Bake 25 minutes at 350.Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes to melt cheese.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 servings

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