Tag Archives: italian dinner

Veal Parmesan with Zpaghetti

In recent years, I have started a new tradition of buying myself a Christmas present or two and wrapping it up to put under the tree.  As it turns out, Santa always seems to bring me something I really want!  As you might imagine, kitchen gadgets tend to make my wish list here and there.  This year I really wanted a spiral slicer!  I love the idea of making “noodles” out of whatever veggie happens to be handy, but I do not love the idea of sitting there painstakingly peeling or slicing away at it to get my uniform, healthy, yummy veggie-noodles.  But now!  I have the perfect little tool and let me tell you this baby is fun to play with!  At the risk of sounding like an informercial, let me just say it worked like a charm and I had a pile of lovely curly strands of zucchini in mere moments.

What else can I slice up?  Quick!  Get me a carrot!

What else can I slice up? Quick! Get me a carrot!

A quick sauté with a bit of garlic and they were perfect alongside my delicious veal parmesan.  My daughter, who is not usually a big zucchini fan, actually ate the entire serving.  As for the veal, you’ve got to try these delicious burgers.  With a simple marinara topping and a sprinkle of cheese, they were a huge hit!  Not a veal fan?  No problem.  Feel free to substitute ground beef or turkey, or even slices of eggplant!

Veal Parmesan with Zpaghetti.  So delicious!

Veal Parmesan with Zpaghetti. So delicious!

Veal Parmesan with Zpaghetti

Sauce:

Olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
Pinch of crushed red peppers
Salt & pepper
1 tsp. capers

Blend up or crush tomatoes (with juice).  Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add garlic and stir about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, crushed red peppers and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer.  Toss in capers.  Let sauce simmer while you prepare the burgers.

Mmmm.  Simple and good.  When I have a bit of fresh basil I throw that in as well.

Mmmm. Simple and good. When I have a bit of fresh basil I throw that in as well.

Burgers:

1 pound ground veal (or ground beef or turkey)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
3-4 mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
Salt & pepper
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
3/4 cup panko (or other bread crumbs)
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan, shredded

Heat oven to broil.  Mix veal, garlic, egg, mushrooms, onion and seasonings until well blended.  Form into patties.  Dredge both sides in panko and shake off excess.  Heat a drizzle of oil in a large skillet.  Add patties and cook 4-5 minutes on each side until brown on the outside and done in the middle.

Cooking up the burgers.

Cooking up the burgers.

Remove to a baking sheet.  Top each burger with a generous spoonful of sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella and parmesan.  Place under the broiler 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown on top.

All sliced up and ready to cook.  The strips are so thin it only takes a couple of minutes to cook!

All sliced up and ready to cook. The strips are so thin it only takes a couple of minutes to cook!

Zpaghetti:

3 zucchini, cut into thin strips either with a spiral slicer or using a vegetable peeler
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt & pepper

While burgers are broiling, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet and toss in the zucchini, along with minced garlic and a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Add a pinch of salt & pepper if desired.  Sauté 2-3 minutes until zucchini is tender.  Serve hot, topped with extra marinara sauce.

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Eggplant Parmesan

I’ve never really embraced the eggplant.  Oh believe me, I’ve wanted to.  They are pretty.  They look delicious.  But I’ve just never been a huge fan.  I don’t hate it or anything, but I would like to like it more.  So…I’ve been eating more eggplant.

Eggplant parmesan is one of the few eggplant dishes where I think, “okay, I can get into this.”  However, I’ve never made it myself. I’ve had it several different ways in restaurants; it seems like everybody has their own little method.  So I had an idea of what I liked and didn’t like about the ones I’ve had.  Mushy eggplant, no thanks.  Greasy…eh. Crispy…mmmm.  But do I have to fry it to get it crispy?  Maybe not.  I looked at 5 or 6 different recipes.  Took tips and hints from here and there, tossed in my own marinara sauce and gave it a go.

And the results?  6 thumbs way up!

Crispy, crunchy, savory, yummy.  Great texture, just enough sauce to add flavor without swamping the eggplant.  Cheesy, melty wonderfulness.  I think I might be an eggplant fan.  Who’d have thought?

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

2-3 medium eggplant, sliced into disks about 1/4 inch thick
1 tbsp. salt
2 cups panko
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup flour
1 tsp. black pepper
3 eggs
1/2 cup half ‘n half
6 tbsp olive oil
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. capers
1/2 cup red wine
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
8 oz. mozzarella, sliced
1/2 cup parmesan
3-4 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped or sliced into ribbons

Slice eggplant, toss with 1 tbsp. salt and put in a colander set over a large bowl.  Let sit for 30 minutes to drain out excess moisture.  Lay out a couple of paper towels, lay the slices on it, cover with another paper towel and press out any additional moisture.  Wipe off any excess salt.

Sliced eggplant. I was surprised at how much liquid came out of these!

While eggplant is draining, make sauce.  Use a blender or food processor to grind up the can of tomatoes.  In a pinch you can always just squeeze them up with your hands or a potato masher.  In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil, add garlic and crushed red pepper.  Stir and cook 1 minute or so.  Add canned tomatoes, wine and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes or so to reduce the sauce down a bit.  Stir in capers, cherry tomatoes and basil and set aside.

In one shallow dish, combine panko and 1 cup parmesan.  In another shallow dish whisk eggs with half ‘n half.  In a large ziplock bag combine flour and black pepper.  Set up a little assembly line for yourself.  Shake each slice in the flour bag, shake off excess flour, then dip into the egg mixture.  Coat both sides and lift out, letting the extra egg drip off.  Then into the panko mixture.  Coat both sides well and set on wax paper.  Continue until all slices are ready.

Eggplant assembly line.

Heat oven to 425˚. Put 2 cookie sheets in to preheat on two racks.  Take them out and coat each pan with 3 tbsp. of oil. Lay out the eggplant slices in a single layer.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Switch pans and cook another 10 minutes.  Flip all the slices with a spatula.  Cook another 10 minutes (30 minutes total cooking time).

Spray or oil a 13 x 9 casserole dish.  Start with 1/3 of the sauce.  Then layer half of the eggplant (overlap a bit if needed).  Then another 1/3 of sauce.  Dot with half of the mozzarella slices.  Then layer the other half of the eggplant slices.  Top with the remainder of the sauce. Dot with the rest of the mozzarella.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan.  Bake 15 minutes until cheese is melted.  Serve hot!  Makes at least 6 servings.

Eggplant Parmesan.  Where’s my fork?

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