We spent the weekend with our friends Steve and Sims at their lovely ranch in the Upper Ojai Valley. A good portion of Saturday was taken up by the preparation of an amazing eggplant parmesan for dinner that evening. Steve is a master gardener, and Sims a master chef, so we knew we were in for a treat. Herewith, a photo essay:
Eggplant parmesan begins, of course, with eggplants. Steve harvested these on Friday from his garden. (The white or “lavender” eggplants weren’t used in the dish, but they look quite pretty in the bowl, don’t they?)
Steve and Sims make their own tomato sauce, from tomatoes that Steve grows. Steve juices the tomatoes, and Sims adds his magic blend of garlic, herbs and spices. But before it’s sauce, it’s tomatoes; we nibbled on these freshly-harvested beauties yesterday while watching the Cal-USC game.
Update October 5: Steve passed along their tomato sauce recipe: “First, you juice the tomatoes, using a food mill or similar device. Then add garlic, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. We also add some harissa, which is a North African hot chili paste (or you could add red pepper flakes which would be more common in Italy). We can’t tell you how much of each ingredient, because it depends on how much juice you have. Cook over low heat for several hours so that it cooks down and thickens. It usually reduces in volume by at least half.”
Below: Steve slices the eggplants. Behind, awaiting the grand assemblage: mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce.
Sims dredged the eggplant slices first in beaten egg, then in bread crumbs…
… before frying them in canola oil.
Meanwhile, Steve grated parmesan. Libby (the blond lab) and Jefferson (the chocolate lab) waited for any cheese shards that might fly their way. Hope springs eternal.
Sims begins assembling the dish by sandwiching slices of fresh mozzarella between slices of fried eggplant.
Bathed in tomato sauce, the dish awaits only its parmesan topping before going into the oven. Note that it’s not drowned in sauce. The perfectly-thick sauce is gently ladled to just cover each eggplant stack.
Update October 5: Cover the prepared dish with tin foil, and bake in a 350 F / 180 C oven for one hour.
Libby (background), Jefferson and Timothy relax while the dish is baking.
Out of the oven, resting before being plated.
Et bon appetit! The most heavenly eggplant parm we’d ever had!
And for dessert, we enjoyed ripe Warren pears from Steve’s orchard, with a selection of three cheeses (Stilton, Fiscalini and 9-year Parmesan) from the Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City.
Wzzy, that really does look yummy. I’m green with envy over the healthy & bright looking tomatoes. Is it true what they say? Things really do grow better in Ojai.
Thanks Todd – I’ll check with Steve and Sims regarding the tomato sauce recipe and oven temp/time, and add that info!
Aw, man…no details on the secret sauce?! Dang.
Sure looks fab. I may have to experiment.
Goodness that looks divine! Great pics too.
scrumptious. love the many photos! xo
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