Noni's Eggplant "Pardon-Me-John"
This is the modified raw version of my Noni’s Eggplant Parmigiana, which has been a staple at our family’s holiday dinner table for as long as I can remember. The way my Grandpa tells the story, Noni made her Eggplant Parmigiana for dinner one evening when they had some cousins over for dinner. The cousins later complimented her on her wonderful “Pardon-Me-John” and requested it again the next time they came over. Since then, our family has always referred to this dish as Eggplant Pardon-Me-John. My sister and I fight over who gets to make it during the holidays. I suppose this year I will let her make the cooked version and I will make “Pardon-Me-RAWn” ...
1 large eggplant
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
.125 cup Sciabica Lemon Olive Oil (or Sciabica Fresh Pressed Olive Oil & Juice of 1/2 Lemon)
½ cup Flax Meal
½ cup Almond Meal (dry)
2 tablespoon Dried Italian Seasoning
¼ cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
Uncle Steve's Sauce:
4 Roma Tomatoes
½ cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, Soaked
1½ tablespoon Sciabica Fresh Pressed Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic
6 leaves Fresh Basil
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Dried Italian Seasoning (oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, etc.)
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Ground Cloves
1 teaspoon Red Wine or Red Wine Vinegar (optional)
1½ cup Soaked Raw Cashews (or soaked sunflower seeds)
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 clove Garlic
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
¼ cup Filtered Water
Because eggplant tends to be very bitter, there are many preparation steps my Noni taught me to “take the bitter out.”
First, peel the eggplant (especially raw, the skins can be very tough & bitter).
Next, slice the eggplant into about 1/4 inch slices. Salt the eggplant between slices and put it back together standing up in a strainer or collander. Let sit for 15-20 minutes or until you see brown liquid leaking out of the bottom of the collander. (These are the bitter juices leaving the eggplant, according to Noni). My sister and I will usually put a bowl upside down or something heavy-ish on top of the eggplant to help squeeze it out. While waiting for the eggplant, you can make the sauce or the cheese (see below).
Then, place the salted eggplant slices in a large bowl and soak in warm water for another 15-20 minutes. You will notice the soak water turn brown and a lot of the seeds will fall to the bottom of the bowl.
Next, rinse the eggplant to remove any loose seeds (supposedly, the seeds are also a source of the bitter flavor), and soak between 2 paper towels. We usually lay out a few paper towels along the counter top, lay out the eggplant slices and then lay another paper towel on top. After a few minutes, the wet paper towel will also have a brown-ish color.
Now we are ready to marinate and “bread” the eggplant. Marinate/toss the eggplant slices in about 1/8 cup of Sciabica Lemon Olive Oil or Sciabica Fresh Pressed Olive Oil with the juice of 1/2 lemon. Just enough to add a little flavor and help the breading stick. In a flat bottomed dish or tray mix 1/2 cup flax meal (grind flax seeds in your coffee grinder), 1/2 cup dry almond meal (leftover pulp from almond milk dehydrated, or almonds finely ground in coffee grinder or high powered fp), and 2 tablespoons of dried italian seasoning. Once mixed, dip marinated eggplant slices in dry mixture to coat. Place on mesh dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 95 – 105 until tender… approx 6 hours? (My dehydrator tends to work much faster than most recipes on this site suggest, so it may take longer and you will have to keep checking until you feel it’s ready). You can also flip in the middle if you want. Another tip: The thinner the eggplant slices, the quicker they dehydrate.
Uncle Steve’s Sauce:
Blend 4 roma tomatoes, 1/2 cup soaked sun dried tomatoes, 1 1/2 tablespoons Sciabica, 1 clove garlic, 6 leaves fresh basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon mixed italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1 tsp red wine or red wine vinegar (optional) in food processor.
In food processor, blend 1 1/2 cups soaked cashews (or sunflower seeds), the juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 clove garlic, and 1/4 tsp sea salt. Add filtered water to help through fp and for consistency. This cheese is simple and doesn’t need a lot of extra flavoring since it will be layered next to the sauce, which is very flavorful.
Once the eggplant is done, layer in a casserole dish with the cheese and sauce. I usually lay down eggplant, cheese, sauce, eggplant, cheese, sauce, etc. Sauce should be the very top layer. Grind 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) in the coffee grinder and sprinkle on top like parmesan.