Thursday, June 2, 2011
A few weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of meeting cookbook author Stacey Fokas. Her cookbook Freshalicious is a strong reinforcement of the eat fresh, eat local, eat healthy philosophy. I really can't go by an interesting looking cookbook without at the very least, picking it up and flipping through it. More often than not, I'll end up adding the cookbook to my over crowded collection.
Stacey's book is not only a tribute to Ontario's bounty but also a work of love while feeding her child with allergies. The book is entirely dairy free.
6 large fresh tomatoes (chopped)
1 jar strained tomatoes (I used a 19 oz tomato sauce)
1-2 cups water
2 springs fresh oregano
2 chopped garlic cloves
sea salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp garlic powder
Eggplant and Mushrooms
2 x 227 g baby portabella mushrooms
sunflower oil for frying
1-2 large purple eggplants
4-6 cups washed spinach for layering
1/2 cup flour
3-4 beaten eggs
2 bags whole wheat crackers (I used panko crumbs)
2 Tbsp chicken soup base
soup base, garlic powder, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, sea salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F
Mix all sauce ingredients together and simmer for 1/2 hour
Slice the mushrooms; fry in sunflower oil until they brown; set aside
Put the flour in one bowl. Prepare the egg wash in the second bowl and the crackers in the third bowl. Add seasonings to the coating.
Slice eggplants horizontally into 1/2 inch round discs. Coat one at a time in the flour, then the egg wash and then the cracker coating.
Fry the eggplant at medium to high until golden brown and crunchy. Set them on a drying rack until you're done. If your oil gets dirty or has brown bits floating in it, discard it, wipe the pan and replace with fresh oil.
Once you finish frying all the eggplant slices use the same pan to wilt down the spinach. Set aside for assembly.
Note: Save a good portion of the mushrooms to use for the top layer.
Beginning with sauce on the bottom, lay eggplant slices into the dish to create the first layer. Pour sauce over the eggplant, sprinkle with mushrooms and add a layer of spinach. Repeat layering until the tray is full. Add enough sauce in each layer to keep it from drying
Bake for 1 hour.
I baked mine at 350 F and found the temperature to be perfect. Don't overdo the sauce as it can overwhelm the flavour of the eggplant and mushrooms.
I found this to be a very tasty main dish that I would certainly make again and again without hesitation.
If you love mushrooms, it's really okay to load up this dish with them.