Today we here in northwest France and you in the British Isles are getting hit by the remnants of ex-Hurricane Bertha. It's supposed to be blustery and rainy — maybe more so in Ireland and the U.K. than here in the Loire Valley. Yesterday was a decent day, but we were warned it wouldn't last.
So I decided to make summertime food, even though it doesn't feel very much like summer outside. I wish I could say that all the ingredients came out of our garden, but that would be a fib. In fact, the main ingredient for what I decided to make — Mario Batali's Eggplant Parmigiana — came from the supermarket.
On Friday, when we went to Tours to get some LED light bulbs at IKEA and pick up a part for our little electric weed-eater at another shop, we arrived about 30 minutes early. IKEA doesn't open its doors until 10 a.m. We noticed an Aldi discount supermarket in La Ville-aux-Dames and decided to have a look around there to kill the time. I had only ever been to an Aldi store twice before, I think. There's one in Bléré and one in Contres, both a good 10 to 15 miles from Saint-Aignan.
So there chez Aldi I found a pack of three fairly decent-looking eggplants for one euro. Who could resist that? Not me. We also picked up a few more items, and for 20 euros we ended up with a big sack of groceries, including a bottle of olive oil and a jar of roasted red peppers in olive oil, as well as a few avocados and other odds and ends.
I have to say that, despite the lousy weather, we do have basil growing, but not in the garden. It's in two planter boxes on our little sun porch, which is the closest thing we have to a greenhouse. I think the plants would perish outdoors, consumed by snails and battered by rain and wind. Inside, they're actually doing fairly well, and we've been clipping leaves to use in our cooking and our salads.
The tomato sauce in the recipe is not from this year's garden, but last year's. It's the last container of home-made tomato sauce from 2013 that we had left in the freezer. Now we'll have room in there for containers of 2014 tomato sauce from the garden, if we end up getting a tomato crop at all.
Finally, there's cheese and olive oil in Mario Batali's recipe, and that came from supermarkets too. We had a little bag of mozzarella balls and a block of parmesan that I could grate up. I think those are all the ingredients in the eggplant parmesan, for which I won't post the recipe. There's a link to it above. I made it as a standard gratin rather than the neat little stacks of eggplant slices and cheese that Batali describes.