Not good enough says Dr. P the Philistine of good eats. "Try eschewing meat at least one day a week," he admonishes. He goes on to mention Meatless Monday. "Say what?" says I. He went on to explain that Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet.
Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc. in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future.
Well, who knew! I am all about the health of our planet. Someone has to be since there are so many in this country and elsewhere who could give a crap whether future generations live or die. With that in mind I decided to give Meatless Monday a try. Thanks to the Goddess of French cooking, Laura Calder, I prepared this for dinner last night:
Tomato and Aubergine Gratin
Serving Size : 4
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion -- sliced
2 cloves garlic -- chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper -- smashed, optional
2 pounds fresh tomatoes -- roughly chopped
sea salt -- to taste
freshly ground black pepper -- to taste
2 pounds eggplant -- sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon chili powder -- to taste
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese -- grated
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a saute pan and cook the onions until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, bay leaf, and pepper, and cook 1 minute. Then add the tomatoes and cook to a thick, chunky sauce, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and stir in the fresh herbs.
While the sauce cooks, brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and lay in a single layer on a baking sheet (you'll need to work in batches). Bake until golden and soft, about 15 minutes; if need be, turn and bake the other side, about 10 minutes. I cooked the eggplant for 15 minutes and they were done - any longer and they would have fallen apart. I suppose it depends on your oven. Remove and set aside.
Turn the oven down to 375 degrees F. Mix together the breadcrumbs with the chili powder.
In a large gratin dish, starting with just the thinnest smear of tomato sauce over the bottom, layer in the eggplant, then sauce, then breadcrumbs. Repeat until the dish is full. Scatter the Parmesan over top. Bake until the gratin is heated through, and the top golden, about 30 minutes.
Start to Finish Time:
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This dish will never take the place of a bone-in rib eye, but it was savory, filling, and inexpensive. It will be even more cost effective in a few months when the tomato plants and eggplants in the garden start producing. As a side note: both plants are ideally suited for container gardening.
The bottom line: we did our part for a healthy planet. Ain't we special?