Cooking at Le Petit Saint Barnabé

Hello friends, cooks, and fellow campers!

Gourmet Girl Denise here from the Pays de Loire, France. In case you are wondering where on earth the opening picture is from, it is here at Le Petit Saint Barnabé. It is my kitchen where I have been inspired of late to start baking in my ancient, wood-burning oven. More on that in a future post.

In my last post, I included a picture of my Eggplant Parmigiana but did not include the recipe. Many of you asked for the recipe, so here is a step by step guide to making this simple dish.

Mise en Place:

two large or three small eggplants

1 large jar tomato sauce (yes, sometimes I cheat)or 4 cups homemade sauce which will make the dish that much better.

two teaspoons dried oregano

black pepper

ground hot red pepper

one large clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped

two balls fresh mozzarella

2/3 cup grated parmesan

chopped fresh parsley

several sprigs fresh basil

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.

You must start with very fresh eggplants devoid of bruises and/or soft spots. Use two large or three small eggplants. For this dish, I do not use Japanese eggplants.

Slice the eggplants into 1/2 inch rounds. I find it easier to peel the eggplant after it is sliced. Use a sharp paring knife.

Place the rounds on a rack over a baking tray and salt them heavily on both sides. Let them stand for about half an hour. They will start sweating and the water will drip down into the tray.

Rinse the salt off of the rounds and dry them between paper towels or two dishcloths. Press on them gently to remove all excess water.

If you have a cast-iron grill preheat it at the highest heat temperature. You can also use a cast iron grill pan or your bbq for this step. Brush each round with olive oil and grill them in batches, about 4 minutes, then rotate each piece a quarter turn and grill for another 4 minutes. Repeat on the flip side. You want to get some caramelization going here so make sure you get some dark grill marks on both sides.

Coat a baking dish with half of the tomato sauce, (I use a 10″ round, glass pan but you can use any shape you wish. My 10″ pan makes enough Parmigiana for four servings) then place the eggplant on the sauce in a single layer, or slightly overlapping. Top with the remaining sauce.

Add pressed garlic, dried oregano, and black pepper, to taste. I add a few sprinkles of ground red pepper to give the dish a mild spiciness.

Slice the two mozzarella balls thinly and place the slices over the top of the dish. (you may have some leftover)

Add the parmesan and fresh parsley.

Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs. Serve at once with a green salad and a great glass of red wine! Voila!

Ok, I don’t have a picture of the dish right out of the oven. I took the basil off and popped it in the oven. I added the basil after it was done.  Anyway, I hope you will enjoy this dish! I make it often and love having leftovers for lunch the next day. It keeps really well in the fridge and freezes well too. It would be a great dish to take on your next camping trip.

Until next time, keep on enjoying the outdoors, especially during these trying times. Be well!

Denise, Gail, and Lindsey

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