Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

Yesterday was Eric's birthday. We decided not to do anything big last night because he gets up super early for work (we're talking 3:30 am people). We will be gettin on dance on this weekend though! My mom had given me two eggplants from their garden and I had no idea what to make with them. Both Eric and my mom said that Eggplant Parmesan was super delicious- I had never even heard of it. Seriously, I am that person at an Italian restaurant (okay Olive Garden) that orders, soup,salad and bread sticks or spaghetti. No funny business- just straight up noodles and sauce. So no, Eggplant Parmesan was never an option. 

Eric decided that he wanted me to make that for his birthday dinner. I thought, no problemo! Then I started researching recipes and stuff and man, that dish had some major steps! I admit I was a little intimidated by it, and kept asking Eric if he was sure that he didn't want to go out to dinner... he kept saying no.

So I went ahead and did it. I followed this recipe and made some minor adjustments along the way. At exactly 6:00 we sat down to have some Eggplant Parmesan. And might I was tasty:)

Here's the down low:

For the Eggplant:
2 medium eggplant (about 2 pounds) cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 cups breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons vegetable oil

*I had 2 smaller ones.... and it was enough to fill a smaller 8 x 8 pan

For the Tomato Sauce:
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes or pureed or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground pepper

*I did not use the red pepper flakes and the sauce was still the bomb diggity*

For Baking:
8 ounces whole or part-skim mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
10 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Okay..lots of ingredients, but well worth it!

So now what?

To make the eggplant:
  1. In a large bowl, toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt; transfer salted eggplant to colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and salt. Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with a triple layer of paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
  2. While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-thirds of the oven, place rimmed baking sheets on both racks, and heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
  5. Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.
The way I did it was a bit different- you choose which you like better.

After I cut the eggplant, I placed them on a cookie cooling rack and poured salt on both sides of the rounds. I made sure to put a couple paper towels under it to catch all the water. If you don't  pull the moisture out, it will taste bitter. I waited like 30 minutes before I moved on

Then, I did not put them in the oven on cooling racks- mainly because I was confused by this step. So I just breaded them and placed them on the cookie sheets and put them in the oven.

To make the sauce:
  1. While eggplant bakes, process 2 cans diced tomatoes in food processor or blender until almost smooth (if using pureed or crushed tomatoes, skip this step).
  2. Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in processed and remaining can of tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season to taste.
{Like I said, I didn't use the red pepper flakes, cuz I forgot to buy them, but it was still yummy}

To assemble:
  1. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half of mozzarella. Layer in remaining eggplant and dot with 1 cup sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.
  2. Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, scatter basil over top, and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce separately.
{Again, our eggplants were little so we used an 8x8 pan instead and did 3 layers}

Okay, so there ya have it! We had some Caesar salad, French bread and some angel pasta to go along with it!

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  1. I make my eggplant the same way, and I put it right on the cookie sheets also. I use less oil and it still comes out delicious. I use Panko bread crumbs.

    I sometimes fix my eggplant like this, and don't make into "parmesan", I just serve the breaded eggplant as a side dish.

    1. That sounds like a great way to do it- I may have to try it as a side! Btw..thanks so much for reading my blog!!


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