Friday, September 30, 2011
A few weeks ago, I made Eggplant Parmesan for the first time. There are so many Eggplant Parmesan recipes out there that I was difficult for me to choose which one would yield the best finished product. Some recipes recommend peeling the eggplant, some leave the skin on. Sometimes the eggplant is fried before being baked into the casserole and sometimes it is not. And there are certainly a variety of ways to bread the eggplant, sauces to make, and cheeses to layer it with.
After reading a number of recipes, I shut my computer and just decided to come up with my own. What I ended up with is a fairly convenient, traditional version of Eggplant Parmesan. I'm so glad that I finally got around to making this dish. It was delicious!
I started with 2 small-ish eggplants.
Then, using a vegetable peeler, I removed the skin.
Naked lil' eggplants...
Sliced into 1/4 -1/2" thick slices.
Place the eggplants in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. The salt will draw out the moisture in the eggplant. Let the eggplant sit for about 30 minutes.
Then place on paper towels.
To squeeze out any excess moisture, I topped the slices with another layer of paper towel and pressed with my grill press. A heavy skillet would work well for this too.
With the eggplant ready to go, I set up my frying station. I heated oil in a skillet and then filled 3 coating trays: the first with flour, the second with a mixture of egg and minced garlic, and the third with a combination of grated Parmesan and panko.
Each eggplant slice was dredged in flour,
dipped in egg,
and coated with panko and Parmesan.
Place the slices in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on each side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Once the last batch of eggplant is fried, pour a jar of prepared spaghetti sauce right into the drippings in the skillet. I also added in some Italian seasoning. Stir and heat through.
Now the only thing left to do was assemble the casserole. I started by spreading about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 13 inch baking dish.
Arrange half of the eggplant over the sauce.
Top with Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
Then repeat the layers. Finish by topping with the remainder of the sauce and a a sprinkle of cheese.
I baked mine for about 20 minutes, until it was bubbly around the edges and the cheese on top was melted.
Fresh basil adds the perfect finish for this cheesy, flavorful dish.
Again, I failed to write down the recipe while I was cooking. Now it's been weeks since I made this and I can not remember the exact amounts of the ingredients used. I did my best to come close based on the pictures above. Here's the recipe:
1 large or 2 small, firm eggplants
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
oil for frying
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
fresh basil, chopped
For the eggplant:
Peel the eggplant and slice into 1/4- 1/2 inch disks. Salt eggplant and let stand for 30 minutes for excess moisture to drain. Press dry between paper towels. Pour flour in a shallow dish. In a second shallow dish, whisk together egg and garlic. In a third dish, mix panko and parmesan. Dredge the eggplant in flour, then dip in the egg mixture, and finally coat with the parmesan/panko mixture. Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Fry eggplant in batches until golden brown on each side. Remove to drain on paper towels.
For the sauce:
Sprinkle the drippings in the skillet with Italian seasoning. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and heat through.
Spread 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant over the sauce. Top with 1/4 cup of parmesan and 1 cup of mozzarella. Arrange remaining eggplant on top of the cheese. Pour on the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheeses.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh basil.