If I had to be honest with myself, Steve could eat mashed potatoes and peas every night and be a happy camper. And I would have a lot more time on my hands. But what can I say, I love to cook, and I love hitting on something that this anti-gastronome will ask for again and again. The following recipe is not the one I made the first night we met, but mishmash of several favorite meals Steve and I have developed over the years. It’s a little time-consuming, but the vegetarians in your life will love you.

1/2 teaspoon salt plus salt for eggplant

1 small globe eggplant, sliced into rounds 1/2-inch thick

1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs

2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons

1 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging

2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced on a diagonal 1/2-inch thick

1 medium-sized yellow squash, sliced on a diagonal 1/2-inch thick

1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely

2 green bell peppers, chopped finely

1 teaspoon fresh minced marjoram

1 teaspoon fresh minced oregano

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (14-ounce) can chopped or pureed plum tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

Hot paprika, to taste

Salt the eggplant all over and allow to drain in colander for a half-hour. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the breadcrumbs, 1 cup of the cheese, and the 1/2 cup olive oil in a shallow bowl. Spread the flour on a plate, and beat the eggs and milk in another shallow bowl. Dredge the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash slices in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the crumbs in to make sure they stick.

Place the breaded vegetables on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until they are crisp and golden, about 25 minutes.

While the vegetable are baking, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, marjoram and oregano, and sauté until everything begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute.

Stir in the tomatoes, sugar and paprika. Cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Then remove the cover and cook for 5 minutes more.

To serve, spread a spoonful of the sauce onto 2 plates, add a layer of the baked vegetables and a generous amount of the remaining 1 cup cheese. Repeat with another layer of sauce, vegetables and cheese. Serve hot, alongside a crisp salad of simple, fresh greens.


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