Eggplant Parmesan

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Surprise! Just when you think this blog is defunct, I bust out with a new post. When I set out to make egg parm tonight, I didn’t plan to blog it. I had never made it before, so I didn’t know how it would turn out. It ended up being so delicious, though, that I knew that I had to both save the recipe and share it with anyone who might still be tuning in here or searching for a recipe for it. Forgive the crummy picture… I didn’t plan on sharing it.

I picked up an eggplant at the store last week because they were on sale, and they looked beautiful. I didn’t know what to do with it, but my husband immediately said that he would love eggplant parmesan. My lazier half quaked at the idea, but I agreed to do it. I kept procrastinating, secretly planning to broil it with a sesame sauce and be lazy. Today, though, I had run out of excuses and had plenty of time since it was the weekend. I was stuck. I like egg parm, but I don’t love it. I’ve really only eaten it in restaurants, and it tends to be oily, gluey, greasy, and mushy.

This recipe, on the other hand, is none of that. A little care in the prep yields a really outstanding result. The eggplant are salted to draw out water, and then pressed firmly to extract as much fluid as possible. They are breaded, but then they are baked and not fried – cutting down on the oil and the calories. These firm, toothsome rounds are layered with homemade, thick tomato sauce and mozzarella and parmesan cheese before they are baked. The top layer of eggplant isn’t covered with tomato sauce, but rather has a stripe of the sauce and cheese drawn across the baking dish to allow the top layer to stay as crisp as possible. In the end, the dish comes out dense and flavorful, with eggplant that really tastes of eggplant. It was amazing, and I’m so glad that I made it.

Eggplant Parmesan

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1-2 T kosher salt

for the tomato sauce

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • a fat pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 1/2 T fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • kosher salt

for the eggplant

  • 1 C flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C breadcrumbs
  • grated parmesan cheese (not that horrible shakey cheese in the green canister – get something decent in the deli section of the grocery store)
  • olive oil spray (this could be real olive oil in an atomizer, olive oil cooking spray, whatever)

for assembly

  • 2 C grated whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • grated parmesan cheese (see note above)

Slice eggplant in rounds between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick. Lay the slices in a colander and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let them rest for at least 30 minutes to draw out as much water as possible.

While the eggplant is resting, pour enough olive oil into a large saucepan to cover the bottom. Heat this over medium high heat, then add in the onion. Sprinkle it with salt to keep it from sticking to the pan. Cook until the onion is soft and clear, then add the garlic and cook until is is fragrant and golden, being careful not to burn it. Grate in the carrot and add in the thyme, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Saute all of this together for about five minutes, then add in the tomatoes. Season with some salt. Bring the whole thing up to a boil, then turn down the heat, put a lid on it, and let it simmer for around 30 minutes or so. Taste to adjust the seasonings as needed.

Preheat your oven to 425º. Now, set up your breading station. In one bowl, mix flour with some salt and pepper. In the next, have your beaten eggs. In the final bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil, and lightly mist the foil with olive oil spray. Once the eggplant have rested long enough, rinse them well with water. Then squeeze them firmly between either tea towels or paper towels to get as much water out as possible. Dip the eggplant slices first in the flour, then in the egg, then the breadcrumb mixture. Lay them out on the cookie sheet. When all the slices have been breaded and placed on the sheet, lightly mist them with the olive oil spray. Bake them for 15 minutes.

When the eggplant slices are golden brown and crunchy, it’s time to assemble the dish. Leave the oven on while you do this. Grab a 9×13 glass baking dish. Spread about a cup (maybe a little more) of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish. Lay the eggplant slices in two rows with overlapping edges in the dish. Cover them with more tomato sauce, some mozzarella cheese and some parmesan cheese. Then, layer more eggplant slices on top of these two rows in the same way. Instead of completely covering them with sauce, add a stripe of sauce down the middles of the two rows. Add more mozzarella and parmesan on top of this. Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted, brown, and bubbly.

Serves 4 if offered with just a green salad on the side, or up to 8 if served with a side of pasta, as well.

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