Parmesan cheese contains rennet which comes from the stomach of a baby calf. Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano and Gorgonzola all use animal rennet. You can buy a vegetarian version of hard cheese that is like parmesan but technically it’s not parmesan. Thankfully poor man’s parmesan contains no animal rennet and isn’t at all a bad substitute.
Take some day or two old bread (sourdough, ciabatta or whatever loaf you have lying around, partners excluded!) and cut into medium sized cubes. Dice half an onion and a clove of garlic. Add 1 tbs of extra virgin olive to a pan and heat up over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until it’s fragrant. Add the bread and another tbs of extra virgin olive oil Sprinkle over some dried herbs such as thyme, oregano and basil. Cook until the bread is golden and toasty.
I like the pungency of dried herbs but you could also use fresh herbs.
This goes really well with the baked eggplant and ricotta.
Photo © tracy benjamin 2009