Even though I am eyeball deep in canning / drying / harvesting and about 1 million client projects I had this incredible desire to make something super special for dinner the other night. The kind of dish that requires messing up a million pans, and pots and bowls, while balancing 3-4 burner temps and times all in stride.
You see the night before I met my new farmer friend Tony on the side of the road and loaded up (again) with his bio dynamic organic goodness, from the valley next to us. He brought with him these stunning eggplants. Eggplant I think is the most voluptuous and sexy veg on the planet. I swooned and came home with a dozen of these perfectly deep dark purple glossy wonders and started dreaming of jars of Italian styles eggplant in oil, and of course of egg plant Parmesan. Along with the aubergines I also bought 5 lbs of these fabulous tie-died looking colored peppers, that were so sweet and crisp and I just had to pull out all the stops and honor this beautiful food… And so these gluten free eggplant parmesan with oven roasted pepper sausage sauce was born.
Where to begin with this recipe…
Lets start with the eggplants. Maybe some of you like me have experience trying to fry eggplant in a pan of oil, only to discover the oil being lapped up and mysteriously disappearing into the eggplant, it has a unique ability to make you feel really bad about your ability to bang out a tasty veggie dish. Well here is the answer to that struggle:
Cut eggplant into 1/4″ slices (skin on), lay rounds on a pan and sprinkle with sea salt, both sides. Then place rounds into a colander and allow to shed excess water for a few hours. When your ready to use the eggplant press firmly using a plate in the colander to try and remove more liquid, then pat and press dry each slice with a clean tea towel. Now your ready to begin using it successfully.
Now about the sauce, you can of course use any tomato sauce you have on had, but as I am drowning in sun ripened tomatoes from the garden and had these beautiful peppers I opted to fire up the oven to about 450 and rapidly roast the following:
4-6 cups of tomatoes cut into small bites
2 large peppers chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped coarsely
Toss in olive oil and S+P, oregano and parsley.
Roast for about 35 minutes, until some parts are nicely blackened.
Remove all seared parts and pieces into a large pot and zip up with an immersion blender. You can deglaze the roasting pan with a splash of beer or water to get all of the baked on goodness out and into the sauce.
Keep on low heat until ready to use… If you want to make this a sausage sauce, you can (in a separate pan) brown up and cook 1 lb of happy local sausage meat, and add it into the sauce, but be sure to deglaze the meat pan and ensure you capture all the meaty greasy dripping in the sauce.
Now back to the eggplant:
Prepare 3 bowls and a large prep surface.
bowl 1 – rice flour seasoned with S+P and some dried parsley and oregano
bowl 2 – 2 eggs and a splash of milk well combined
bowl 3 – gluten free breading: In a processor combine 1 cup organic corn flakes, 1 cup of rolled oats, S+P and oregano
Dredge each slice of eggplant in all 3 bowls starting with 1, when you get to 3, pack and press crumb firmly.
Now gently pan sear each round in olive oil until golden brown on both sides.
*This batter technique will yield perfectly crunchy and well coated slices, that will start up to frying, handling and baking.
Arrange fried rounds on a baking sheet, and generously top with thick tomato pepper sausage sauce, then add a good amount of the best quality sharp cheese you have on hard, I used cave aged grana and parm blended together.
bake for about 15 minutes at 300, or until the cheese is “goozing”
Ta da… the kitchen is now a total disaster but oh one bite of this and it’s all worth it!