Rainy Day Recipe Thread

I have the week off, and rain is forecast in abundance for most of the week. After I woke up today and figured I was not going to be riding, I started to straighten up the house and ran to the grocery store for some essentials. The Wegman's near Ronnie's house sells local NJ produce, and today they had tons of lovely ripe plum tomatoes and eggplant, so I decided spur of the moment to make eggplant parm for dinner. If I cannot ride, I am going to indulge in another passion: cooking.

I try to "makeover" most recipes to be lighter and healthier than the traditional form might be. I am pleased so far with the preliminary results; the eggplant parm is ready to be baked, and the real test of the recipe will come when Ronnie tastes it and gives my the thumbs up (or down).

To lighten up the recipe, I made my own sauce so the oil and sugar content could be controlled. I seasoned my own whole-grain breadcrumbs, and baked the eggplant slices instead of frying them. And I used part-skim mozzarella instead of the full-fat version.

Here it goes:

Preheat oven to 450F and coat 2 or 3 baking sheets with a light basting of olive oil.

2 lbs eggplant, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
2 eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
1.5 c whole wheat bread crumbs, seasoned with 1T each: ground parmesan cheese and dried italian seasoning, about 1 tsp ground garlic, and salt and pepper
1 lb mozarella cheese, grated
1 16-20 oz. jar of marinara sauce, or homemade sauce (recipe follows)

Sprinkle some salt lightly on eggplant slices, stack them up and let sit for about 10 minutes (salt helps draw the bitterness out of eggplant slices).

Mix breadcrumbs and seasoning together in a wide, shallow dish; set aside. Beat eggs and milk together. Dip eggplant slices in egg batter, then coat on both sides with breadcrumb mixture, and lay on baking trays in a single layer. Bake coated eggplant in 450F oven for 15-18 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool. REDUCE OVEN TEMP TO 325F.

In 9x13 baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom, and lay the baked eggplant in a single layer in the bottom. Cover eggplant with a thin layer of more sauce and a layer of grated mozarella. Continue to layer until all eggplant is used. Final layer should be sauce and cheese. Bake in 325F oven until cheese is melted and slightly bubbling on top.

Serve with a green salad and pasta on the side, if desired. Mangia!

Homemade Fresh Tomato Sauce:

3-4 lbs of fresh plum tomatoes
6-8 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 T fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 handful fresh basil leaves, chopped or chiffonade*
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

*to cut basil chiffonade style, lay all leaves on top of one another and roll them up tight, like rolling a cigar, and cut the roll on an angle so you end up with fine, long, basil "shreds"

Prep the tomatoes: cut a small "X" in bottom of tomatoes, and cook in boiling water for about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from water, allow to cool, and peel skins away. Put whole tomatoes in medium saucepan with sliced garlic, chopped onion, herbs, and olive oil. Take a potato masher or immersion blender to roughly chop tomatoes and mix up sauce. Heat over medium-low (do not allow to boil or bubble excessively) for about 2 hours. If the sauce is too acidic, add a small amount of sugar, about a teaspoon at at time, until the acidity is reduced (**alternatively, you can boil some carrots and mash them up and add to the sauce, about 1/4 cup at a time, to add sweetness).

Next time I have a free day and decide to get fancy with the family's daily feeding, I will post up another recipe.

I made excellent cod cakes with mango-cucumber salsa the other night also, I'll post that up one day soon if anyone is interested.



Well-Known Member
No arguing with your 'gravy' recipe. But I might suggest adding some fresh oregano which is readily available this time of year. Also, I know they aren't everyone's taste but I have been adding some capers into my fresh sauce lately. Sublime.


Well-Known Member
mango cucumber salad? that sounds just interesting. I was at a bbq over the weekend and had a delicious mango salsa. But cucumbers sounds like an interesting mix.
mango cucumber salad? that sounds just interesting. I was at a bbq over the weekend and had a delicious mango salsa. But cucumbers sounds like an interesting mix.

It is super easy to make:

peel and cube one avocodo, one mango, and one cucumber (seed the cucumber first)

Make a dressing out of the juice of one lime, 1 T cider vinegar, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1/3 cup canola oil*, and fresh chopped cilantro to taste (I used about 1 cup).

To give it a little warmth, you can also add 1/2 tsp of ground cumin or a pinch of hot red pepper powder.

*NOTE on oil: a lot of people like Extra Virgin Olive Oil for just about everything, but it does have a distinct taste, which is a bit strong for this recipe. Use light olive oil, peanut, safflower, or other neutral tasting oil when preparing salsas or other recipes with fruits or where an olive taste will conflict with other ingredients.

mix dressing with chopped fruits and let sit for about 1 hour. Serve on grilled fish or chicken or as a side dish.

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