The Farmer’s Market Challenge, AKA Eggplant It’s-not-parm

Finally, finally, I’m home again in beautiful Western Washington where 100 degree heat is cause for panic and I can comfortably wear jeans all the time. Life is good. It’s also quiet, which is why I came up with a new game called Farmer’s Market: you go to the Farmer’s Market and menu plan there. It’s sort of like the Iron Chef in that you can use other things too, but if you shy away too much from the original task the judges (aka myself) will glare judgmentally at you before docking points.

As it so happens, eggplant is in season during summer, and doesn’t complain much about the 50 Fahrenheit nights we’ve been having. Done, done, and sold: the person who I ended up buying the tomatoes, onion, and eggplants from even gave me an especially ripe eggplant he’d been hanging onto in back (or under the table, since this was a farmer’s market).

     

Two final observations about farmer’s markets: EVERYONE IS NICE – I got some great recipe tips – and there are a very large number of people present at these things who ARE NOT FARMERS. Unless candied almonds and birdhouses now grow on trees.

So all of that off my chest, what I decided to make with the farmer’s market veggies was eggplant it’s not parm. There are three parts to this recipe: eggplant, tomato sauce, and don’t call it cheese sauce. I’m quite insistent that this is neither vegan cheese sauce nor vegan eggplant parm because neither really taste like that. Not better or worse, just different.

This disclaimer given, my mom’s boyfriend said he’s much more open to the idea of being a vegan, now that he’s had vegan food this good.

The ingredients:

2 small sized eggplants, sliced lengthwise (aka the largest possible slices you can take of an eggplant) into 1/2 inch or so slices.

For the dry batter:
About 2.5 cups breadcrumbs (I used six slices of dave’s killer bread)

For the wet batter:
1 cup and 2 tbsp flour (any kind of flour, I used wheat)
1.5 cups soymilk (or other non dairy milk. I didn’t have any unsweetened on hand and it turned out just fine with the vanilla)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp of McCormick Chicken seasoning (which is mostly MSG – this is optional but delicious)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

For two recipes of vegan cheese sauce:
1 cup RAW (<– that’s important, so it’s in caps) cashews
1/2 cup + 1 cup water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt

And EITHER:
2 containers of storebought tomato sauce OR homemade tomato sauce which I made (because there were great looking tomatoes at the farmer’s market) with:
6 roma tomatoes
1 onion
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup veggie broth
2tbsp basil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp flour
Juice of 1/4 lemon

So for the eggplant (do this first, it needs to cook for ten minutes before being combined with anything else):

Preheat the oven to 450.

Spread out the breadcrumbs and whisk together all of the ingredients in the wet batter until smooth.

Dip the eggplant slices on both sides in the wet batter, and then again in the dry batter, and place in a glass baking dish.

Bake the battered slices for 10 minutes, or until the crumbs start to brown.

While those bake:

If you’re making tomato sauce: put all of the ingredients for the tomato sauce in a food processor and mix until blended. Pour into a pan over medium heat and let reduce until the eggplant is done baking.

If you’re using storebought tomato sauce, pour the sauce into a pan over low heat and let it warm up until the eggplant is done baking.

When the eggplant slices are done baking, set the oven to broil.

Pour the tomato sauce over the eggplant slices, and put them under the broiler for 5 minutes.

As those broil, make the cheese sauce:

Put the cashews and the 1/2 cup water into a food processor and mix.

Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and mix.

When the eggplant slices come out, spread cheese sauce on top of each. Broil again for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese sauce starts to brown.

Enjoy, these are delicious.

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