This was Date Night this past Friday, and it’s the one I mentioned in the last blog as being special. It was not a special occasion being celebrated, but this meal was rather involved, and making homemade pasta was a first for me, so I thought it deserved its own post.
For my birthday this year, Matt gave me some attachments for my KitchenAid stand mixer, one of them being a pasta maker. This one is not the metal contraption you see on Food Network where you roll out the pasta sheets, but rather it’s a food grinder that attaches and has these plates on the end for shaping the dough into different shapes, either spaghetti, flat noodles, lasagna sheets, or macaroni. I used the spaghetti plate. Since I’m inexperienced, I probably should have started with making larger noodles, but I’m never one to shy away from a challenge! Much of the spaghetti noodles clumped together, so it’s not the prettiest thing ever, but it was very tasty once it cooked up. Enjoy!
-2 Japanese eggplants, sliced thin into rounds (I fully realize that it’s much easier to use large Italian eggplants and slice them length-wise, but I just like the taste and the look of the smaller eggplants much better, and I think this makes mine a little unique).
-4 slices white bread, processed into crumbs in the food processor
-1 cup flour
-2 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk
-1 tbs flat-leaf parsley, minced
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
-Canola oil, for frying
-Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
-1 medium onion, chopped
-4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
-Olive oil, for sauteeing
-2 tsp dried oregano
-28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
-Small bunch of fresh basil, julienned
-1 lb. fresh or dried long-cut pasta
-1 ball fresh mozzarella, grated
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Preheat a medium saucepan with olive oil to medium-high heat. Saute onions and garlic until softened and translucent. Add salt and pepper, plus oregano. Stir in crushed tomatoes and heat through. Simmer for about fifteen minutes to marry the flavors. Add basil right before serving.
In a large saucepan, heat about 2 inches of canola oil and heat to medium-high. On a large plate, add parsley and grated parmesan to the breadcrumbs. Place the flour on another plate. In a pie plate, add the beaten eggs and milk. Season all three plates with salt and pepper. Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour, shake off excess, then dip into egg mixture, shake off excess, then coat with breadcrumb mixture. When the oil is hot enough, fry up each eggplant slice for a few minutes per side, until dark and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions. Drain well.
In the baking dish, layer eggplant slices across the bottom, overlapping if necessary. Place a layer of tomato sauce over them, but remember to reserve about one-third of the tomato sauce for the pasta. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella over the tomato sauce, along with some parmesan. You can also add fresh cracked black pepper and/or dried oregano here if you want. Repeat layers, ending with cheese. You can do two total layers or three, depending on how much eggplant you have.
Bake in preheated oven until cheese is melted, and starting to bubble and brown, about 15 minutes. Let rest before serving. Toss drained pasta with the remaining tomato sauce. Enjoy!!
For dessert we had Tiramisu Cheesecake, which was really delicious. It was a basic cheesecake with mascarpone cheese mixed in with the cream cheese, as well as coffee liqueur and coffee extract mixed in, then dusted with cocoa powder on top. I’m very proud of myself for baking it with no cracks, too!