Finally, I have conquered my fear of the eggplant. Growing up, my family and I would eat at a neighbor’s house once every two weeks or so. And she almost always had eggplant parmesan. Truth be told, it scared me. There was no way you would find me eating that. Gross.
Perhaps it was the name that scared me: egg-plant. In my little girl mind, that just did not make any sense. How could a plant produce an egg?
Then, a couple of weeks ago, at the health week event at RMH, my group decided to make eggplant parmesan. I kindly offered to make other items, such as sweet potato fries, cauliflower potatos, quinoa, etc to avoid having to work with the eggplant. Well, the eggplant parmesan ended up being a huge hit, so I figured I should probably give it a try. It was delicious and totally not gross.
Inspired by the RMH eggplant, I made this the other night for both Crabbe boys. Since pescetarian is how I typically roll, the men are forced to eat all sorts of different vegetarian dishes. I shouldn’t say forced. They have the option of making their own food, but I think free food that is homemade is always more appealing. And they really don’t seem to mind the lack of meat.
I am hosting a girl’s Christmas party next week and really wanted a dish that was hearty and comforting, but also pleased vegetarians and non vegetarians alike. With my fears successfully conquered, I will be making this again next week to serve to all my girlfriends.
Here is my recipe, adapted from the Test Kitchen recipe…
2 medium eggplants
2 jars tomato sauce, or homemade sauce (I was being lazy and didn’t want to make homemade, but had only one jar on hand. I ended up needing more, so had to make some homemade stuff half way through)
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
2 cups breadcrumbs
Dash of oregano
I should note that a lot of this was done to taste, and was more of “a few shakes of this, a few shakes of that” so measure as you see fit.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice eggplants into rounds, maybe about 1/4 an inch thick. Mix with about 2 tbsp salt, and let sit in a strainer (i used two strainers) for about 20 minutes. Once strained, blot each piece of eggplant with a paper towel to remove as much water as possible.
Once you’ve removed a good amount of water, prepare a flour mixture. In a large ziploc bag, add one cup (or so) of flour, throw in some salt and pepper. Toss in about 5 pieces of eggplant rounds at a time to coat the eggplant. Do this with all of the pieces of eggplant.
In a separate bowl, whisk together your three eggs. And in yet another bowl, mix together breadcrumbs, oregano, salt and pepper, and some Parmesan cheese. Eggplant Parmesan is very dish intense, fyi. That is why it is nice to cook for both boys. It means two people to do the clean up 🙂
Dip the floured eggplant into the egg mix and coat as evenly as possible, then immediately dip it into the breadcrumb mixture.
Once all pieces have been coated, line them on two cookie sheets and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes. Flip the pieces halfway through. When they are crisp and a medium brown, remove them from the oven.
In a 9 x 13 dish, layer spaghetti sauce and a bit of cheese. Cover this layer with pieces of eggplant. Repeat the sauce layer, then cover with eggplant one last time. Cover the second layer of eggplant with remaining sauce and as much cheese as you want. I like a lot of cheese, but I know some people prefer this to be a bit healthier, so cheese as you want. Sprinkle the top layer with pieces of fresh basil. Bake for 15 minutes.
Tada! Eggplant Parmesan isn’t scary!