There’s hope Virginia! The kids will grow up, move away and have their new boyfriends…..with their OWN kitchens, and when things are important enough it will be “Mom…you really need to show me how to do this”.
That’s what happened this week, when my daughter’s Vegan boyfriend was coming to dinner and she wanted to do Lasagna.
Well, I have to admit, although I have made both Vegan and Gluten Free dishes, I always have to think about it…. ‘Let’s add some egg and then bread the….. ‘. HE’S VEGAN MOM!
Ok. Ok. I’ve got it.
So, we take some shallots, mushrooms and onions and caramelize them on the stove top. Get em’ nice and brown and flavorful. Add 1 sliced zuchinni… (peel it as shown below on the eggplant). Add that to the mixture. Cook 4 minutes and take off stove.
We peel the Eggplant.
Yeeeah…. Pretty nuts, huh? Well, that’s when you have a kitchen with bad knives and a lousy peeler. But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta get the job done with what you have.
So, we’re talking about leaving a thin line of skin, all the way around….. so skinned, not skinned…. this will give you more of that eggplant flavor without having to deal with a difficult mouthful, or a difficult cutting that can happen when all the skin is left on. Plus, we’re cleaning our skin, but still…. who knows? By leaving on just a bit for flavor, it really isn’t going to hurt you, no matter what.
And then we come to the frying pan. Fill it with crisco half way up and drop the eggplant into a warmed bath. NOT!
No crisco. No frying. No ‘warmed’ oil. Why? Crisco is NOT DIGESTABLE, deep frying is fattening and if the oil isn’t hot, the eggplant will simply soak it up. Aside from that, we’re using a sprayer, to gently spray the pan and eggplant.
Or if we’re not using a sprayer (you can get one really cheap at the beauty supply store…. it’s small and easy to keep in a cabinet or on a counter top)…..
well… then we are using the best utensils I know. Our fingers! Simply control the oil that comes out with your own strainer.
So now we’ve got some oil, drops.. and drops…. in the pan. First we flour the Eggplant by holding flour between your fingers higher up and gently sprinkling it on the vegetable. We add the eggplant and then put more drops on the top especially where you see the flour and want to cook off that flour taste!
You do that on one side, give it 3 or 4 minutes, lift to see if the other side is brown, then flip for a couple of minutes more.
Remember: at first the pan needs to be really hot, but as you cook it, you will be turning it down towards medium to avoid burnt Eggplant.
And this is how it looks folks! Browned Eggplant. What you don’t see here…. is the ROASTED GARLIC we cooked and then spread on the Eggplant.
Take a bulb, cut the top paper off, cut the garlic in half, use olive oil, salt and pepper (I like seasalt, but kosher salt is good too). Let it sit on a large piece of foil and make a foil tent, letting very little air seep out.
350 degrees for 1 hour-1 hour 1/2 depending on your oven. And you have another wonderful BROWN food. Roasted Garlic.
I like to do 3 or 4, and just stick it in my fridge. Guests come over? Heat the garlic, slice a bagette, throw some grapes on a plate, pour the wine, and you have HAPPY HOUR!
Getting back to our Vegan Lasagna….
So, your noodles are cooked (slightly undercooked, not rubbery) and now you are going to Chiffonade some Basil leaves, rolling them up and cutting thin slices. And here’s how we do it (into a lasagna pan). Spray or better the pan, pour some tomato sauce on the bottom (or chopped tomatoes with its’ liquid). You may want to add water to the bottom along with sauce to make it spread.
A vertical layer of lasagna (4 noodles, lengthwise). Your mixure of shallots, onions, mushrooms and zuchinni are next. Cover with sauce. Next layer? Noodles. HORIZONTAL. Widthwise. Side to side. Next layer? Eggplant with garlic. Next layer: Noodles. Vertical. And this time you use 3 noodles lengthwise and braid into those 3 noodles side to side, to form a basket weave. Cover with sauce, into the oven 350 degrees for a half hour. Into the fridge.
Whoot? Yes dear hearts. WE PREPPED THIS the night before, so that the day of our event we ARE NOT TIRED. We are well rested, and simply placing the flavors that have now married – - into a 350 oven for a half hour, for the very last time.
Can you say YUM? I can’t get a picture cause they ate it all. Sorry. But…. maybe not! Happy eating!