Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cooking for One?

My boys are out of town this week, and I am home with my teenage daughter, which basically means that I am home alone. This has actually been quite enjoyable thus far, as I have had more time and attention to pay to my vocation by day and my avocations by night. Since I am invariably home alone for dinner, I have not bothered to cook much, choosing to pick up a container of soup or a salad at the grocery instead. But I find I miss getting my pots and pans dirty after a few days. Plus, the teenager eventually comes home, usually hungry, and complains about the lack of "anything to eat."

So, tonight I am back in the kitchen cooking for one, plus another who will raid the fridge later. I had an eggplant in the crisper, which I had planned to curry, but I felt more Meditteranean than Asian tonight. Here is a simple play on eggplant Parmesan, featuring a few other veggies, that does not involve frying.

Roasted Vegetable Parmesan

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 lb mushrooms, stemmed
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
olive oil
1 jar good-quality marinara sauce (I used Club Lucky marinara)
1/2 lb shredded mozzarella cheese
4 bobbolini fresh mozzarella
small bunch of fresh basil and thyme, from the garden
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the eggplant rounds, the mushrooms, and the onion on baking sheets. Brush liberally with olive oil, and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until the veggies are soft and beginning to brown. Keep an eye on them; you may want to flip them halfway through cooking. Remove the vegetables from the oven, and turn down the temperature to 350 degrees. Rough chop the onion after it cools a bit; halve the mushrooms. In a glass baking dish, pour a little of the marinara and spread it out across the bottom. Line the pan with a layer of eggplant and dot it with the mushrooms and the onion. Sprinkle with a bit of the herbs and a layer of mozzarella. If you are feeling particularly evil, chop up some fresh mozzarella and add it here. Repeat the layers (sauce, veggies, herbs, mozzarella/fresh mozzarella). Finish with the remainder of the sauce, mozzarella, and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan. Bake until bubbly and golden on top. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven. The slices will hold together much better if you let it cool some before you cut it (plus you will be less likely to burn the roof of your mouth off when you eat it). Warm a fresh baguette in the residual heat in the oven while you wait. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, and heat well in a microwave (the only oven teenagers know how to use).

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