Miss A Columnist

Sandy Axelrod is a Chef and has a Grand Diplome from “le Cordon Bleu” and more than 40 years experience in the kitchen. Sandy, her husband Steve and their son Brian have been living in Wellington, Florida for more than 28 years. She was owner & Executive Chef of Affairs to Remember Catering for almost 18 years with events such as the Grand Opening of Saks Fifth Avenue at the Gardens Mall, opening parties at The Mall at Wellington Green, SunFest, opening season at International Polo and assorted private parties throughout South Florida to her credit. She is also in “Who’s Who in America” acknowledging her expertise as a caterer and party planner. Now, in addition to writing a blog about food, restaurants, travel & life experiences at Food & Fond Memories,
and writing two cookbooks, she teaches private hands-on cooking classes.

Eggplant Casserole Recipe

Eggplant casserole for Passover

Passover Eggplant Casserole With Red Pepper Pesto And Cajun Matzoh Crumbs (Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod)

With Passover quickly approaching I was in search of something a little different to serve at the seder. For so many years I have prepared my usual fare. In fact it was virtually the same menu that my mother made and her mother before her. Yes I will still start with our traditional hard boiled eggs dipped in salt water immediately following the ritual retelling of the Jews exodus from Egypt. And that will be followed by Gefilte Fish and Potatoes and then Chicken Soup with light and airy Matzoh Balls. I still plan on serving my mom’s Sweet and Sour Brisket with Tzimmes as one of my entrees but this year I am adding a hearty vegetarian option for one of my guests.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Bobby Flay fan. So I was very excited when Bobby prepared this Eggplant Casserole on an episode of Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction. The lightbulb went on and I immediately knew that was the dish to serve! With only a couple of slight changes I could turn this dish into a Passover friendly one and add a flayvorful vegetarian entree to my seder table.

Eggplant Casserole with Red Pepper Pesto and Cajun Matzoh Crumbs

Adapted from Bobby Flay’s recipe for Eggplant Casserole with Red Pepper Pesto and Cajun Breadcrumbs

Ingredients

Eggplant Casserole:
8 baby Italian eggplants, sliced lengthwise 1-inch thick
Canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 grilled or roasted peppers, skin and seeds removed and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3-4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced, weighted for a few hours to remove excess liquid
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

Breadcrumbs:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
Pinch cayenne
3 sheets of matzoh, coarsely ground in the food processor to resemble breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chile de arbol
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

For the casserole: Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Brush the eggplant with canola oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Combine the peppers, pine nuts, garlic and thyme in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add a 1/2 cup of olive oil through the feed tube and process until emulsified. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan and some salt and pepper and pulse a few times to incorporate.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of the pesto over the bottom of a baking dish. Line the dish with some of the eggplant slices and then the mozzarella slices. Season with slat and pepper and scatter the oregano leaves over the top. Dollop another 1/2 cup or so of the pesto over, then more eggplant, a bit more pesto and finally the remaining Parmesan. Put on the grill, cover and bake until the cheese is melted and the casserole is hot, about 20 minutes.

For the breadcrumbs: While the casserole cooks heat the oil in a medium non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the paprika and cayenne and cook for 30 seconds. Add the matzoh crumbs and Parmesan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the crumbs are lightly golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the parsley and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To assemble remove the cooked casserole from the grill and scatter the crumbs over the top. Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

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