But, having friends who garden is wonderful. It seems as if whatever did really well for them, didn't do so well for us and vice versa. So, we find ourselves swapping produce.
My good friend, Cinde, brought us a huge bag of beets from her parent's (our beets did fine, but we wished we had planted more) and a few beautiful eggplant from their garden. We will be donating winter squash to their cause in a few weeks, as their's didn't do so well. Aren't friends great?
Of course I want to preserve some of the eggplant, so I'm going to take a recommendation from Cinde. She slices the eggplant, dips it in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and spreads them out on cookie sheets and freezes them. Once frozen, she divides them into plastic bags, with each bag containing the number of slices needed to make eggplant parmesan. Then, puts them back into the freezer.
When she's ready to make eggplant parmesan, she lays them in a greased 9x13 pan, allows them to thaw a bit and tops them with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and into the oven they go. Brilliant! Here is my favorite Eggplant Parmesan recipe. I like that it incorporates pasta. I find that it makes for a more substantial meal.
Update 9/23/08: Last night I prepared and froze the eggplant, as described. Tonight, I thawed and made Eggplant Parmesan and I could not even tell it had been frozen- it was wonderful!
Eggplant Parmesan (adapted from Cooking Light)
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 (1 pound) eggplants, each peeled and cut crosswise into 6 slices
1 cup flour
3 large eggs, beaten
30-35 ounces tomato sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese
3-4 cups hot, cooked, angel hair pasta
There are two ways of doing this. The first way is to pull frozen, already floured, egged and bread-crumbed eggplant slices from your freezer and lay them in your 9x13 inch pan coated with cooking spray. Let them thaw on the counter for about 15 minutes. **Bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, top the eggplant with the tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and put it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese melts. In the meantime, cook the pasta, according to the directions on the package. Serve the eggplant over the pasta. Makes about 4 servings.
The second way, is to start with fresh eggplant. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish. Set aside. Whip up the eggs a bit in a separate bowl and set it aside. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumb mixture and lay them in a single layer in your 9x13 inch pan coated with cooking spray. Follow recipe above beginning where you see the **.
Tomorrow, for the first time, I will be trying my hand at a pressure cooker. Actually, it will be my neighbor, D's, hand and pressure cooker. She so graciously agreed to let me borrow her cooker and her expertise so I can can some plain beets.
The rest I will pickle today and also set aside some plain beets to eat on our garden salads for dinner. My favorite Pickled Red Beets recipe follows...
Canned Pickled Red Beets (adapted slightly from Margaret High's recipe in Simply in Season) See below if you would prefer not to can them.
1 gallon bowl prepared beets
To prepare beets, scrub them, leaving on their tails and 2-3 inches on their green tops. Place beets in a tall pot and cover them with water. Boil until fork-tender and when the skins slip off easily (about 1-2 hours). Drain, reserving 2 cups of the beet juice. Run cold water over the beets.
3 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups reserved beet juice
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
While the beats are cooling, prepare the brine by combining the ingredients above in a large sauce pan. Bring the brine to a boil and simmer as you slip the skins off the beets and slice them. Pack the slice beets into jars and cover with the brine, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, cap with lids and rings and process in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.
If you don't want to can them, add the sliced beets to the brine in the saucepan and bring it all to a boil for 3-5 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate, covered. They will keep for 4-6 weeks. If they last that long:-).