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Friday, January 26, 2007

Tales from the Kitchen Classic: Melanzane al Forno, the Cheater Way

Since this is what we are eating for dinner tonight, I thought this was an appropriate reprint.

Originally posted December 7, 2005 to Tales from the Kitchen

I have an incredible recipe for this, but in order for me to make it in a hurry, I have come up with a cheater version. Pictures will come tomorrow. I made this tonight, for our vegetarian meal.

Melanzane al Forno

2 medium eggplants, about a pound each
12 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil, with 2 tablespoons reserved
2 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce, homemade or jarred
1 pound frozen, sliced mixed peppers
2 cups shredded mozzarella, provolone and parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice off green stem end of eggplants and cut in half lengthwise. Score a diamond pattern in the meat of the eggplant with a sharp paring knife, being careful not to cut through the skin. Slice the garlic into slivers. Slip about seven slivers of garlic in each of the eggplant halves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large frying pan, one that can hold all the eggplant in one layer, heat almost half a cup of olive oil over medium heat. Carefully put the eggplant in the pan, skin side down, reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook for about five to ten minutes, until the skin is browned and wrinkled. Turn with a slotted spoon and cook three to five more minutes, until the flesh is browned, and soft.

Carefully put the eggplant in a 9 X 13 pan, skin side down. Cover the eggplant with the tomato sauce. In the frying pan, splash in about two tablespoons of olive oil and add the remaining garlic silvers. Stir to cook, add peppers and saute in the oil. Spoon over the sauce and sprinkle the cheese all over the top (you can either shred them yourself or buy a bag of mixed Mediterranean cheeses). Bake for 20 minutes.

While they are baking, make a salad and start some salted water boiling for pasta. Cook about a pound of pasta, any kind you like, in the water. The eggplant needs to rest about 15 minutes, to be cool enough to eat. While it's doing that, drain the pasta and toss with olive oil, ground pepper and crushed garlic. If you really want to be fancy, you can infuse the olive oil with chopped garlic and use that instead of just tossing the whole mess together.

Serve the eggplant with the pasta and the salad. We serve a half to adults and a quarter to each child, so this meal feeds our whole family.

Melanzane Photographs

Originally posted December 8, 2005 to Tales from the Kitchen

Here they are, in all their blurry glory. I forgot to put the camera back on landscape after taking some detail photos of something else.

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