Summer casserole of eggplant slices coated in pesto and cheeses, layered with tomato sauce lasagna-style for easy serving.
One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about blogging is getting to know people I may never meet.
We food bloggers share recipes, comment on each others blogs, and support each other through more social media channels than I thought I’d ever join. Along the way, we offer up pieces of our lives with anyone who stops by our kitchens. I know who had surgery this year, whose kids are sick, and who just celebrated a birthday or anniversary. I know about Wendy’s car that broke down in Texas, Liz’s lashing from a reader with strong opinions, and Cathy’s new job. When Joan’s daughter was hit by a car on her way to school last spring, fellow bloggers took over her blog to keep it going until she could return. Regular updates were posted, and we all breathed a sigh of collective relief when we learned her daughter would recover.
We’re a community. We warmly embrace new bloggers, share what we’ve learned, and help make what’s largely a solitary pursuit much less lonely, sometimes by banding together in a group project. I blog with the Sunday Supper group, the Secret Recipe Group, and have just joined up with a group of local bloggers to create the Bay-Area Farmer’s Market Potluck blogging group.
We divided into two groups (gluten-free and vegetarian), signed up for a course to prepare, and headed to our local farmer’s markets to purchase our ingredients.
We’re thinking of doing this four times a year to celebrate either stars of the season, or forgotten fruits and vegetables that may get nudged aside by more plentiful varieties.
This eggplant parmesan casserole is a perfect dish to take advantage of fresh produce from your local farmer’s market, and is a favorite of mine for a casual dinner for friends. I can make all the components in advance, and tuck into the refrigerator. Then I just assemble and bake before the guest arrive, and serve it with garlic bread and a big salad. Even Carnivorous Maximus has eaten this without any meat in sight! (Gasp.)
A Few Cooking Tips
The Chunky Roasted Tomato Sauce can be made a week ahead and stored. In fact I like to always have some of this sauce around for quick pasta dinners with some chickpeas.
I use a combination of beefsteak and Roma tomatoes, particularly this time of year. The Roma tomatoes add a rich, meaty texture to the juicy beefsteaks.
Stack the eggplant slices on top of each other when assembling this lasagna-style casserole. This makes it far easier to serve and creates natural serving sizes for a crowd.
Fontina cheese makes a fabulous substitute for mozzarella cheese if you have some on hand. But don’t feel like you need to grate it up. I’ve laid thin sheets of it in the layers and it’s worked beautifully!
Serves: Serves 4 - 6
- 3 lbs beefsteak tomatoes
- 1 lb Roma tomatoes
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 t kosher salt
- ½ t ground black pepper
- 5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 sweet red bell peppers
- ¼ c pitted kalamata olives
- 1 t dried oregano
- ½ t dried red pepper
- 2 t balsamic vinegar
- 1½ large eggplant (about 1 pound each)
- 3 large eggs
- 6 T your favorite pesto sauce
- ½ c all-purpose flour
- ¼ c cornflour
- ½ t kosher salt
- ¼ t ground black pepper
- 2 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 c Parmesan cheese
- ½ c Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 t dried oregano
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the tomatoes in half and arrange on the baking sheet, cut side facing up. Drizzle with olive oil, and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for one hour.
- Toss the garlic cloves in olive oil and add to the baking sheet. Add the red peppers. Roast for another 30 minutes.
- Cool, slip the peels from the tomatoes and garlic, and coarsely chop the peppers. Combine with the remaining sauce ingredients in a medium bowl, crushing the roasted tomatoes with your hands.
- Arrange three small bowls on a work space and slice the eggplant into ½-inch rounds. Whisk the eggs together with the pesto in the first bowl. Stir together the flours, salt and pepper in the second bowl. Combine half of the cheeses, breadcrumbs and oregano in the third.
- Heat a griddle over medium heat, and lightly oil the pan.
- Dip an eggplant slice into the flour, followed by the egg-pesto mixture, and finally the cheeses. Place on the griddle. Repeat with enough eggplant to fill the griddle (I can fit around 8 slices of various sizes on mine). Cook for 5 minutes per side, until the eggplant becomes soft and the surfaces are browned and crisped. Stack and repeat with the remaining eggplant. For a 8½" X 12" baking pan, I typically use 16 slices.
- (At this point, the tomato sauce can be poured into a jar and the eggplant parmesan carefully placed in ziplock baggies. Tuck into the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.)
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Arrange the eggplant, tomato sauce and remaining cheese in layers as in a lasagna, spreading a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 8½" X 12" or 9" X 13" baking pan. Next arrange a layer of eggplant parmesan slices and sprinkle with ⅓ of the remaining cheese. Repeat the order, starting with half of the remaining tomato sauce, a final layer of eggplant slices, half of the remaining cheese, and the remaining tomato sauce.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Add the remaining cheese on top and bake another 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Now go check out the rest of the posts from our Bay Area Food Bloggers group (it has TWO desserts), and go visit your farmer’s market!
Farmer’s Market Bay-Area Bloggers Menu!
Eggplant Pesto Parmesan Casserole by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Summertime Vegetarian Stir-Fry by Peanut Buter and Peppers
Striped Heirloom Tomato Spice Cake by Zebot’s Kitchen
Peachy Keen Ice Cream Sandwiches by Fork and Swoon
If you’re interested in the gluten-free menu presented yesterday by our Bay-Area Food Bloggers group, go check out these posts!
Mozzarella & Tomato Caprese Skewers by The Heritage Cook
Warm Green Bean and Tomato Salad by Creative Mama, Messy House
Loaded Mashed Cauliflower by Nosh My Way
Roast Pork Tenderlion with Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Roasted Potatoes by Crazy Foodie Stunts
Vanilla Bean Infused Cheesecake with Peaches in Dark Rum Sauce by Fearless DiningPin It