My kids did not inherit my love of tomatoes. It saddens me, because I think about all of the meals that I could prepare for us…if… only they would love tomatoes. So, there are times when I’m home alone, I make myself some sort of pasta with fresh tomatoes. It’s a special treat for me (both the quiet and the food). Sometimes I’ll make it with mushrooms, sometimes with zucchini, and sometimes, with eggplant. All of the things that I love, but Mike and Jess hate.
And while she’s not fond of tomatoes, Katie did inherit my love of mushrooms, zucchini, and eggplant. I mean, she LOVES them all! So, this week, my beloved Wegmans had a beautiful display of gorgeous eggplants (aubergines). I couldn’t pass them up, that beautiful purple color just pulled me in. I knew immediately that I’d be making an eggplant parm for one, and thought I would be the best mom if I called Katie to come and pick it up after I was finished photographing it. I knew that she wouldn’t mind the tomatoes too, too much…especially when I told her that it was eggplant.
That didn’t happen.
I’m not the best mom as of this moment.
Because I ate it.
All of it.
I could have made more.
But I didn’t.
I’m sorry Kate.
I owe you one.
I’m expecting an angry text…
And now that I’ve aired the wrongs against my eldest daughter….I want to talk about how easy it is to prepare one serving, so Kate can make her own (although I will make her some soon)… especially now that we all know that I just cannot be trusted when it comes to affairs of the eggplant.
An affair with eggplant parm and fresh cherry tomato sauce..
I like to make a fresh tomato sauce with cherry tomatoes. It’s such a quick and easy sauce…one of my favorite go-to sauces when I’m making a meal for just me…one pint of cherry tomatoes is the perfect serving size. And…depending on my particular tomatoey mood for that day, I’ll either leave it chunky, or toss it all in my mini processor to make it smooth. I left it chunky for this meal. I’ll throw it on pasta, rice, even over a fried egg… it truly makes a delicious…and completely satisfies that craving that I have for all of those delicious things that my family won’t eat!
There is something about throwing a pint of tomatoes into a pan of sautéed onions and garlic…I’m totally in my happy zone when I’m listening to them sizzle and burst as they give up the last of their firmness, and begin to cook down to a sauce, and that’s when I grab the potato masher and start mashing them down to sauce. A good 20 minutes of simmering, and you have a wonderful sauce!
And then there is that age old question…. Tomato skins, or no tomato skins?
When I’m making a sauce from cherry tomatoes, I just leave the skins on. I think that with cherry tomatoes, the skin is hardly noticeable, it so tender, that I just don’t think it’s worth the effort to peel each small tomato. Now if you were planning on using larger tomatoes, then yes…I would definitely get rid of the skin, as it tends to curl up and become a little of an unpleasant texture that is still edible, but not palatable.
The best part of this recipe is that one eggplant will usually make four meals for me. So I’ll prepare one meal, and then freeze the rest of the eggplant for another two or three meals!
Life is good…. It’s a “cherry tomato sauce…and all of my favorite things…on a quiet evening” kind of good…
Eggplant Parm for One
(or two, or three, or four)
Just a quick note: The measurements for the sauce are for one serving, while the eggplant is a generous four servings. If you want to make this four servings, just quadruple the sauce! Or if just for one, cook the whole eggplant, and then freeze it (two slices at a time with waxed paper in between them) for the next time you’re anticipating a quiet evening for one!
The pasta that I used for this was DeCecco Linguine Fini. It’s one of my favorite pastas, but you use your preferred pasta! For one serving, use about a quarter coin size (maybe a little smaller) serving of dry.
1 medium eggplant
1 cup flour
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp white pepper
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne
3 eggs, whisked
2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Romano cheese
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8ths.
Cut the eggplant into eight slices.
Mix the flour, garlic powder, black pepper, white pepper, salt, and cayenne in a bowl that is large enough to dip the eggplant slices in. Whisk the eggs in another bowl that is large enough to dip the eggplant slices in. Mix the breadcrumbs and Romano cheese in a third bowl.
Dip each eggplant slice first into the egg on both sides. Then dip into the flour, making sure that the flour is coated well on both sides. Dip it back into the egg on both sides…. And then into the breadcrumbs, making sure that it’s coated nicely on both sides.
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add each slice of eggplant, and fry until golden brown. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Add one slice of mozzarella on top of each eggplant slice, and bake at 350 degrees for ½ hour to 45 minutes, or until the cheese has browned, and the eggplant has softened.
The Cherry Tomato Sauce:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (Hey, it’s a dinner for one, there is no kissing planned!)
1 small onion, roughly chopped
¼ to ½ tsp crushed red pepper
Fresh basil. I usually just grab a handful and roughly chop. If I had to guesstimate… I would say maybe ¼ cup chopped.
2 tbsp olive oil
One serving of pasta, cooked according to directions on the box
Fresh chopped Basil for garnish
Fresh grated parmesan for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan, and add the onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Sauté on medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the cherry tomatoes, whole. Let simmer on low heat.
After about 10 minutes, you’ll hear the tomatoes sizzle, and begin to burst. When they start to look really wrinkled, take your potato masher, and mash them down. Cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until they have cooked down to a chunky sauce. Add the basil and cook for a few more minutes. At this point, you can either leave the sauce chunky, or carefully put it in a food processor to make it smooth.
Cook the pasta according to directions on the box. Make a nest of the cooked pasta in a pasta bowl or dish, and stack 2 slices of eggplant in the middle of the pasta. Top with the cherry tomato sauce, sprinkle with chopped fresh basil, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
So easy….So delicious! Enjoy!!