Eggplant Parmesan

What’s better than a great meal and a movie? Sharing the experience with friends while in PJs! Last Friday I got together with a couple friends to cook dinner and watched movies… and yes all while we rocked our favorite pajamas. Which meant I was wearing my Ohio State sweatpants, doubling as my spirit for the night since our Basketball team was playing. Unfortunately they did not feel the spirit enough to pull out a win, but at least dinner was a success.

While preparing and cooking dinner we were eating more than enough Avocado Salsa, which I must get the recipe from Young-In to make again. Then Stephanie shook up some Cosmopolitan’s and kept them coming. Which lead to very giggly girls, especially when we put on mud masks later in the evening. Yet we somehow proceeded to pass our while watching the first Underworld (P.S. I have a girl-crush on Kate Bekinsale). Guess that’s what happens when you try to watch a movie starting at midnight after great food and drinks. O:-)

For the main event, we made Eggplant Parmesan and used Young-In’s husband Chris’ pasta sauce which he so kindly made in advance for us to use while he was out of town for the weekend. You can use your own favorite homemade sauce, or just use a jar. Or actually, go to Annie’s Eats for the sauce recipe she used. Also, we used Romano cheese, so I suppose this should really be called Eggplant Romano. Oh well, close enough. It turned out great so it obviously did not hurt anything and the eggplant was nice and crisp. Which leads to me to advise that the most important step is draining the eggplant! How else are you going to achieve that cripsy goodness?

Once everything was done, dinner was served with spinach salad, garlic knots, whole wheat spaghetti and cosmopolitans. And don’t forget dessert! We had Strawberry Nutella Bread Pudding, which I will share with you tomorrow.

Ingredients:

1 lb. globe eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds

1-1/2 tsp salt

2 cups bread crumbs

1-1/2 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 3/4 cup

Pinch of salt

1 tsp pepper, divided

3/4 cup flour

3 large eggs

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1-1/2 cup pasta sauce, plus more for serving

4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)

1/2 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)

Fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnish

Directions:

  1. To prepare the eggplant, toss the eggplant slices with the kosher salt in a large bowl until combined.  Transfer the salted eggplant to a colander and set the colander over the now empty bowl.  Let stand until the eggplant releases at least 1 tablespoon liquid, 30-45 minutes.  Spread the eggplant slices on a triple thickness of paper towels (or layers of clean kitchen towels); cover with another triple thickness of paper towels.  Press firmly on each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.  Wipe off any excess salt.
  2. While the eggplant is draining, place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.  Place the bread crumbs in a pie plate and mix in the cheese, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  3. Combine the flour and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a large zipper lock plastic bag; shake to combine.  Beat the eggs in a second pie plate.  Place about half of the eggplant slices in the bag with the flour; seal and shake to coat.  Remove the slices, shaking off the excess flour.  Dip in the eggs, letting the excess run off.  Coat evenly with the bread crumb mixture.  Set the breaded slices on a wire rack.  Repeat with the remaining eggplant until all the slices are breaded.
  4. Remove the preheated baking sheet from the oven.  Add the vegetable oil to the sheet and tilt to coat evenly (or use a brush).  Place the breaded eggplant slices on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake until the eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes and flipping the slices after 20 minutes.  Do not turn off the oven after the slices are baked.
  5. To assemble the dish, spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish.  Layer in half of the eggplant slices, overlapping the slices to fit.  Spread with another 1/2 cup of the sauce.  Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella.  Layer in the remaining eggplant and dot with the remaining sauce, leaving the majority of the eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining mozzarella.  Bake until bubbling and the cheese is browned, 13-15 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes, scatter the basil over the top, and serve with your favorite pasta.

Source: Adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats

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