I was on the Oregon Coast last weekend—Rockaway Beach, to be exact—and can report that the coastal porcini north of Tillamook are on the way out. The beach pick is definitely over in Washington, for that matter. But as you move down the coast into California weather patterns change. A soaking rain in Mendocino a couple weeks ago kicked their season into gear and we should be hearing favorable fungi forecasts from places like Salt Point State Park any day now.
The point is, even if your own region is at flood stage or under a blanket of snow, someone is enjoying wild mushrooms in another part of the country. So, while I roasted the last of my Washington porcini the other night, it is with a sense of vicarious pleasure that I offer this outstanding recipe to my mushroom-hunting brethren in California, who I plan to join at the end of the month for a week of picking and roaming.
I use Marcella‘s Eggplant Parmesan recipe as a guideline. It’s decadent, with plenty of frying in oil. If that’s not your thing…well then, move along, nothing to see here.
1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4-inch thick lengthwise
1-2 large king boletes, sliced 1/4-inch thick lengthwise
oil for frying
1 lb mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1. Heat oil in a large, deep-sided pan or skillet. Dredge eggplant and mushroom slices in seasoned flour. You may need to immerse mushroom slices in water before flouring. Fry in batches until golden, then remove to paper towels. (Note: Marcella recommends sprinkling eggplant slices with salt prior to frying so they release moisture; your call.)
2. Meanwhile prepare marinara sauce. You can take a shortcut and use a 28-oz can of store-bought sauce or make your own. We make our own simple red sauce by sautéing chopped garlic in olive oil, adding a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes plus herbs, and simmering until the sauce attains desired taste and consistency. Add water as the sauce cooks down, and a pinch or two of sugar if necessary.
3. Grease a suitable baking dish. Line the bottom with a single layer of fried eggplant. Spoon over a third of your red sauce and top with half the mozzarella and a third of the parmesan. Dot with leaves of fresh basil. Repeat the layering, this time with all your porcini followed by another third of the red sauce, the rest of the mozzarella, another third of parmesan, and more fresh basil. Complete the final layer with the rest of your eggplant followed by the remaining red sauce and parmesan.
4. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool for several minutes.
Serve over spaghetti.