A few months ago, a lovely reader, Bianca, got in touch to recommend that I have a listen to her boyfriend Marc Maynon’s latest EP ‘Watch Pot’. And listen I did… and so should you.
When I asked for a recipe recommendation, Marc had a most impressive list of suggestions. The ideas included kale pesto gnocchi in a salad with fresh cherry tomatoes and Parmesan, chocolate covered strawberries in vanilla ice-cream, Silk Chocolate Soy-milk iced mocha with English coastal cheddar cheese and orange marmalade on toast, and a garbanzo bean stew with lots of different indian spices.
I’m still going to give those recipe idea a shot in the future, because every one of them sounds terrific, but I opted to go with the final suggestion which was eggplant Parmesan with melted gorgonzola on a bed of whole wheat pasta in a kalamata olive tomato sauce.
Today’s Eggplant Parmesan made a monster of a pan-full and was so rich that I decided my family would go into a coma if I served it over pasta. I made this pasta (using whole wheat penne) the next night. With proper eggplant parm portion control, it would be perfect served along.
Back to the Eggplant Parmesan. This is one of the best recipes for it I have tried. The panko eliminates any mushiness that sometimes is a problem with this dish. The homemade tomato-basil sauce has such a fresh, vibrant flavor that pairs so well with the creamy mozzarella and salty gorgonzola.
2 1/2 lb medium eggplants (about 3), cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
5 lb plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 cup flour
5 large eggs
3 1/2 cups panko
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2/3 cup)
6 oz crumbled gorgonzola, but extra for garnish
1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1. Cut an X in bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife then blanch in a 5-quart pot of boiling water for 1 minute.
2. Transfer tomatoes to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, peel off skin with a paring knife.
3. Coarsely chop tomatoes, then purée in batches in a blender or food processor.
4. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomato purée, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. (Note: Tomato sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.)
5. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
6. Stir together flour, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Beat eggs in a second shallow bowl. Stir together panko and 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a third shallow bowl.
7. Working with 1 slice at a time, dredge eggplant in flour, shake off excess, then dip in egg. Dredge in panko until evenly coated. Transfer eggplant to sheets of wax paper, arranging slices in 1 layer.
8. Heat remaining 1 1/2 cups oil in a deep 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Fry 4 eggplant slices at a time, turning once, until golden brown, 6 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.
9. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of a rectangular 3 1/2-quart baking dish. Arrange one third of eggplant slices in 1 layer over sauce, overlapping slightly if necessary. Cover eggplant with one third of remaining sauce, 2 ounces gorgonzola and one third of mozzarella. Continue layering with remaining eggplant, sauce, gorgonzola and mozzarella.
10. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.
11. Bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and golden and sauce is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.
12. Serve hot garnished with some gorgonzola crumbles.
Serves 8 to 10
Recipe slightly adapted from Epicurious.com
It was hard not to post all 4 of the songs on ‘Watch Pot’. Marc Maynon has created a collection of thoughtful, heart tugging tunes. “I Never Think With My Head”, with a Paul Dano mention and the difficulty of fishing car keys out of skinny jeans, makes me smile every time.
I finally decided the retro pop ballad “Sensation” is the song that currently speaks to my soul. Hopeful and yet not. And that irresistible musical cadence. So good.
“Then once again I lose my cool and I can’t drive
I’m too scared of death to feel alive”
Check out Marc Maynon on Facebook and Bandcamp where you can buy his music.