Monday, September 12, 2011

Big Fire, Lumberjacks, and Eggplant Casserole

There is a big fire burning about 15 miles southeast off our house in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The Pagami Creek Fire grew to over 11,000 acres over the weekend and today has been very windy and dry with gusts up to 30 mph. Here's what the fire cloud looked like from just off our dock looking south on Sunday.

Let's hope storms predicted for today actual hit.

We had friends visiting us for the weekend. The weather was crazy warm with highs in the low 80's. Saturday we went into town for the Harvest Moon Festival to shop the craft booths and catch the lumberjack show. They said you could rent a lumberjack for the night - we pondered it.

Our friends brought us up some bounty from the farmers' market. We have luscious eggplant and peppers. The perfect thing to make this time of year with that bounty is Eggplant Casserole. Most recipes tell you to salt the eggplant and let it drain and do a bunch of other prep work. I found that using fresh eggplant from a market doesn't need all of that. Please do so if you are so inclined, but I'd rather not.

Sharee's Eggplant Casserole

2 large eggplants (or a bunch of whatever eggplant you have)
2 large red onions chopped

3 garlic cloves minced
1T extra virgin olive oil
1 large red pepper chopped (or a bunch of whatever peppers you have)
3 large garden tomatoes
a bunch of basil (or at least 10 leaves)
bread crumbs, preferably from good whole grain bread
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan (or other cheese that you like)

Slice the eggplant into rounds about 3/4 inch thick. Put them on the grill and grill until soft (about 5 min per side). You could also broil them or put a little olive oil in a pan and soften them up on the stove.

Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic and 1 tsp salt in the olive oil until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the red pepper and tomatoes and simmer until everything is softened and the juice has evaporated some (the mixture should be thick). Add the basil then salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 325. Lightly oil a casserole dish and layer half the eggplant rounds on the bottom. Put a layer of tomato mixture on top, layer with eggplant and finish with the final layer of tomato mixture. Cover the pan and put in the oven for about 45 minutes.

Increase the heat to 375. Spread the bread crumbs and Parmesan on top. Bake additional 15 minutes or until the top is bubbly and beginning to brown.

This photo shows the layering part of the recipe.

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