I am a complete and utter Daddy's Girl, through and through. I owe so much of what I am to him; not least of which is my love of cooking. Isn't it wild to think how much the actions of one person can totally affect another's? I love you, Dad.
I saw my Dad this morning where he works, and as usual, he gave me a huge shopping bag full of goodies from him and my Mom. One surprisingly heavy item turned out to be a big, lovely eggplant from the local Farmers Market where they live.
My Dad, according to My Mom, has been on a huge Eggplant Parm kick, of which I have been the unfortunate non-recipient. Times like this I wish I still lived at home! So, when he gave me this giant eggplant today, I knew what I had to do.
He - and most people, I imagine - fry up their eggplant (or chicken cutlet, veal, or whatever "parm" they're making) before adding the cheese and tomato sauce. However, E and I had just made fish tacos for our previous dinner (GREAT recipe which I'll share another day), of which the primary ingredient is fried cod. Therefore, I decided to make this - my first attempt at Eggplant Parmesan! - by baking, not frying.
And man, oh man, it's one of the best Eggplant Parms I've EVER had. If I do say so myself.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- One large or two small, firm eggplants
- Two eggs, beaten
- 1 cup breadcrumbs. I used a 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup regular.
- 2/3 cups Parmesan and Romano grated cheese
- Stuff to season your breading with. I used a teaspoon of each garlic powder, parsley, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Speaking of salt..
- A good type of salt - I used sea salt, but kosher salt will do. I try not to use table salt (grains are too small). I'll tell you why you'll need this in a sec.
- A jar of good tomato sauce (or make your own)
- A block of good, whole-milk or part-skim mozzarella
Preheat your oven to 450*F.
Cut off the tops of your eggplant, and peel. Then cut lengthwise into pieces about 1/4 inch thick, maybe smaller. It's not easy to cut these, so take your time and use a sharp knife.
Then use your good, coarsely-ground salt and lightly salt each piece of the eggplant. The purpose of this is to make the eggplant "sweat out" the bitterness. Without this salting process, the small seeds within the eggplant will taste somewhat bitter. And it's kind of cool to watch. Leave the eggplant pieces in a bowl for about 20-30 minutes. You'll see the pieces actually release water and "sweat". Kinda cool, right? Google "eggplant sweating", you'll be surprised.
While you're waiting, prepare your breading: Mix the breadcrumbs with 1/3 Parmesan/Romano mix and your seasonings. After this time has passed, rinse off the pieces with cold water and dry thoroughly.
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with EVOO. Dredge your rinsed and dried eggplant slices in the egg, then in the breading. Then place each carefully down on the oiled cookie sheet.
Place in your oven and bake for about 8 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 6-8 minutes or until the eggplant begins to brown. Then remove and set aside.
At this point, I wanted to try a piece myself straight out of the oven. WOW. Not even kidding, the first bite surprised the heck out of me. I was not expecting how delicious it was! Quite frankly, you could stop your recipe right here and have some amazing eggplant cutlets that are baked and much healthier for you. What started as a bite turned into me eating TWO full pieces of breaded eggplant. No sauce, no (extra) cheese, just me, and this strange purple fruit.
|I'm surprised I put the fork down long enough to take this picture.|
An aside: When my parents got married, one of their wedding gifts was a set of sizzle platters that they still use over 35 years later. When I moved out on my own, one of the gifts they got me were the very same plates! (I still think theirs are better, but then again, I hate my kitchen and nearly everything about it and in it. Remember the blog name?)
If you have these or something like it, they work great for dishes like this. I used two of them.
Coat the platter with a layer of tomato sauce, then place your eggplant on top, then another layer of tomato sauce. Cut pieces of mozz cheese, layer them on, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of Parmesan/Romano cheese. Put back in the oven another 10 minutes so the cheese melts and everything gets hot and crispy and ..awesome.
I served this with whole-grain linguine, a side of steamed spinach, and hot fresh garlic bread. Amazing! And - healthy! Perhaps I should investigate the actual nutrition facts for my recipes?
As always, please let me know what else you'd like to see. I hope you enjoy!