A Birthday Dinner for the Hubs! – Eggplant Parmesan

Tanti auguri a-te

Tanti auguri a-te

Tanti auguri, Drew

Tanti auguri a-te

Every year growing up for our birthday my dad would always ask what we wanted for our birthday dinner.  I always LOVED our birthday dinners, because we got to pick whatever we wanted regardless of what everyone else in the house liked.  Without fail, every year Beth & I would request manicotti, my dad’s Italian specialty.  Then we moved onto chicken marsala and then to eggplant parmesan, all of which he perfected.  Clay was a little bit of a picky eater, so I am sure it wasn’t as hefty of a request as the rest of us.  I love this tradition so much that it has continued onto my own family.  Birthday dinners for Hunter, as of yet, have been somewhat easy (i.e. peanut butter and jelly), but I still like to put a little thought and effort into Drew’s.

His very favorite dish that I make for him is my gorgonzola and leek mac & cheese (if you’re lucky I will post it one day), but that requires about 4 hours and the need for my body to grow an extra set of hands for all the steps, so when I tell him he can have “whatever” he wants, the offer comes with a few limitations.  His birthday this year was spent on the road traveling for work, so I planned on doing his birthday dinner a night early with a big meal and yummy birthday dessert; however, after discovering that his 8 am appointment the next morning was 8 am EASTERN standard time and 4 hours away which meant he had to leave that night, our evening was a bit rushed.  There was no time for a complicated dinner and especially not dessert, so my initial meal plan shifted a bit.  The dinner dish was slightly abbreviated and his yummy birthday dessert involved a slice and bake cookie (or two, but he did have a bag of cookies to go for the road).  Dinner was complete, candle (there should have been 33 more) blown out and he was on the road by 6:30, but at least he had a full tummy and the best part was that lots of the ingredients came from our garden.  I can’t wait to continue this tradition every year and I really can’t wait until Hunter requests something a little more gourmet than PB&J.

Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

    For the Eggplant!
  • - 1-2 pounds ripe eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • - 1 egg white
  • - 1/4 cup Italian herbed bread crumbs
  • - 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • - 2 cups tomato sauce (see below)
  • - 1 cup shredded mozarella cheese
  • - 1/2 cup gresh grated parmesan
  • For the sauce!
  • - 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • - 1/2 cup chopped sweet yellow onion
  • - 1/2 cup chopped fresh green bell pepper
  • - 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • - 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • - Ground black pepper
  • - 1 tsp white sugar
  • - 2 - 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • - 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • - 1/2 cup red wine
  • - 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, & oregano)
  • - 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

    For the Eggplant!
  1. Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt. Lay slices out in one layer on a cutting board. After 30 minutes, pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pant. Dip eggplant slices in egg white. Coat with bread crumbs. Brown each side of eggplant in hot oil for approximately 3-4 minutes per side.
  3. Pour 1/4 cup sauce in a greased glass baking dish.
  4. Layer eggplant over sauce. Sprinkle with cheese. Add remaining sauce and sprinkle remaining cheese over sauce.
  5. Wrap dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake on 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes.
  6. For the Sauce!
  7. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Saute onion, garlic and bell pepper until tender or onions are translucent.
  8. Add crushed tomatoes, red wine and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  9. Add herbs, salt, pepper, and sugar. Let simmer approximately 30 minutes.
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Happy birthday, Daddy!!!!!

Looks like that “two” might have actually been three birthday cookies!

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