Eggplant Parmesan

DSC_0601RECIPE #480, DAY #667

FIVE STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, translated into my first recipe collection, It’s All Good*

TIMING: 1 ½ hours

DIFFICULTY: It’s not the easiest thing to pull off, and yet the flavors make even a botched attempt still taste good.

TOOLS: A heavy-bottomed skillet or griddle (preferable cast iron), grater, casserole pan…

COOK TYPE: Stovetop, frying, oven

HEALTH: Yes, vegetarian meals can be healthy and rewarding. This one, though, is loaded with cheese and oil (since the eggplant is fried). Then add pasta… it’s just not the healthiest of vegetarian—or otherwise—meals. I think, though, it is worth it occasionally, especially since it is chock full of veggies.

DSC_0603EXPERIENCE: I’m not sure there’s anything I like more than eggplant parmesan. So I am biased, clearly. This is a pretty straightforward version of the dish, with plenty of gooey cheese. It tastes very delicious. Everybody loves it, except those who won’t even try it because it is, after all, eggplant. Served with spaghetti, I just don’t think you can do any better. (Just not every night. It is heavy and takes a lot of work to prepare, like lasagna.)

NOTES: You can use breadcrumbs, but I had leftover matzo in my pantry, so I used it. I would definitely go out of my way to use the matzo, again. To make it into meal, just grind of the matzo in your food processor.

I use Newman’s Own Tomato Basil marinara. Yes!

I slice the eggplant as I go, so that it does not oxidize as I work on earlier batches. Yes, “thin” is relative, just make sure you are consistent throughout. Not too thin.

Technically, I only used 1 ½ rather large eggplants, this time.

***

  1. Prepare 2 blates, one with 3 beaten eggs and the other with 3 cups matzo meal. Prepare your casserole dish by spreading the bottom with about 1/3 cup marinara.
  2. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat with a few tablespoons grapeseed oil. When hot but not smoking, move quickly to dip 2 thin-sliced eggplants first into the egg, then the matzo. Shake off and add to the pan until the pan is full but not overcrowded. Brown on one side, flip, salt and pepper, and brown on the second side. (You will need to add more oil, occasionally, as eggplant tends to suck it up. Keep the heat high.)
  4. As you finish, layer the eggplant into the casserole dish, overlapping just enough so that it looks solid and pretty. Keep coating and frying up the eggplant in batches.
  5. When you have a complete bottom layer, sprinkle on 8 ounces grated mozzarella, 8 chiffonade basil leaves, and ½ cup Parmesan. Keep frying those eggplants, and make another complete layer.
  6. When complete, spoon on marinara until your jar is about ½ empty. There should be some eggplant poking out.
  7. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until bubbly and thoroughly hot.

***

Serve with 8 ounces spaghetti, which has been finished in the rest of the marinara. Wine and a salad would be nice.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: Just keep reheating and enjoy, although the BEST way to enjoy as leftovers is to place in a toasted hoagie roll with mayo, shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, and either hot marinara or some Italian dressing. Seriously.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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