Recipe

Recipe time again! Eggplant Parmesan…

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I love to cook. It’s something that has been ingrained in me since I was a child; my family cooks, together, in one big flurry of food, song, and wine. Lots of food. Lots of song. Lots and lots of wine. ;)

Because of this, my friends have gotten to where they love coming to my place for dinner. About once every week or two, I’ll have everyone over to try out something I’ve been in the mood for. A couple months back, it was Eggplant Parmesan. And though they are usually up for my experiments in culinary delights (cauliflower crust pizza? super popular!), several of my friends balked openly at eggplant.

“I don’t like eggplant, Mark,” one of my female friends said, “I won’t like it. I’ll try it, but don’t be offended when I hate it.”

I made the following recipe for her and the entire crew. It went over really, really well. Last week, she sent me an email for the recipe. She had already bought most the ingredients. She signed it thus:

“Thank you! And damn you, Mark, for making me a liar! I’ve been craving this for weeks…”

So here it is. It’s simple to cook, uses easy ingredients, and is very tasty. Let me know if you make it, and how it turns out!

Mark’s Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:
1 Eggplant
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Marinara Sauce of your choice
Sea Salt
Minced Garlic
Italian seasonings
Pepper
Pepperoni (if you want to add meat to the dish)
Italian breadcrumbs (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400.

Slice the eggplant into fairly thin medallions. I prefer about 1/8″, but you could go to a quarter inch if you wanted.

If you have a silicon brush, brush the eggplant slices with olive oil. If not, you may want to dip them in a shallow pan with olive oil in it before frying. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings to your preference.

Heat up a frying pan or skillet to a medium-medium high heat. Add in enough olive oil to coat the pan. Put in the garlic, and start letting it saute. Once it starts to smell really good, start laying eggplant slices on top.

After a bit (and when the garlic to the sides starts turning brown), flip the eggplant. Saute them for a bit, then remove them and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Spoon a dollop of marinara on each medallion, add pepperoni, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and then Parmesan cheese. If you’d like, sprinkle Italian breadcrumbs on top.

Put in the oven, bake until the cheese is bubbly and melty.

Pull out, cool for a few minutes, then enjoy!

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What? A recipe, on a writing blog? ;)

Ok, so I couldn’t resist. Here’s my recipe for Chicken Bastiano.

A note before we get started: When I initially created this recipe, I did so with what I had on hand. A bunch of tomatoes, a well-stocked spice rack, such like things. It is entirely possible to make this entire recipe from scratch. I know, because I’ve done so. It’s going to take a lot of time, though. That said, I’m a big fan of easy cooking. I have since learned that sometimes, you can take short cuts and achieve a flavor that is almost as good as the stuff you did from scratch, but takes a quarter of the time. And those of you who read my blog are probably pretty aware of how limited my time can get! :) So, this recipe uses a lot of pre-canned, pre-prepped ingrediants. It still tastes great, but requires so much less work. It may not appeal to the inner food snob in me, but the outer time-pressed, dinner cooking dad in me approves.

(The following recipe should serve 6-7 people, perhaps with some leftovers)

What you’ll need on hand:
4-6 Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cubed (amount depends on how big they are, use your best judgement for the number of people you’re feeding)
1 bottle of cheap zesty Italian salad dressing
2 cans of mild Rotel tomatoes
1 large can of regular diced tomatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes with italian seasoning (basil, oregano, and garlic is my favorite)
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chiles
1 can of quartered artichoke hearts
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
One small to medium onion, diced
One container of shaved parmesan
Olive oil
Butter

Cooking:
Combine all the tomatoes, chiles and artichokes into a pot, and bring to a medium high heat.  When it starts to bubble, reduce the heat and let it simmer.

Cube the chicken, and then put it all in a container to marinate. Add in enough of the cheap Zesty Italian dressing to cover all the chicken. Stir well, so that every piece is coated. Set to the side and let it soak for a bit.

In a skillet, use a drizzle of olive oil and a small pad of butter to sauted the garlic. When it starts to brown slightly, add in the diced onion, and saute until the onion turns semi-translucent. Add the whole batch to the pot with the tomatoes, and stir well.

Get the chicken and dump the whole lot, dressing included, into the skillet. Cook until the chicken turns white. Cut open a thicker piece to ensure that they are cooked through. When it is, dump the whole mess into the pot with everthing else. Stir well, and then let it simmer for a good 40 minutes or so.

Make the pasta of your choice. I prefer to cook mine al dente, and then toss it with a light sprinkling of olive oil when it’s done, to keep it from sticking.

If you want, now’s a good time to throw some garlic bread in the oven.

When 40 minutes is up, you’re ready to serve!  Put the pasta into a bowl, spoon on a generous helping of the Chicken Bastiano. Get some of the liquid in there too – it flavours the pasta nicely!  Add a layer of shaved parmesan to the top of it all, grab a hunk of garlic bread, and go to town!

That’s it. Simple, easy, and tasty! At least it seems to be – god knows, my friends seem to love it!

And hey…if you decide to make this, let me know! I’d love to hear what you thought after! :D