Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lighten Up - Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is my favorite Italian dish.  I never really liked eggplant very much until I had it parmesan style. It is traditionally fried in oil and loaded with cheese, and, well, not very good for you.  BUT it is your lucky day because my mom makes the BEST eggplant parm, and she doesn't fry her eggplant or load it with cheese.  So I knew this would be a great post to share in our lighten up series as this eggplant is lightly breaded and baked, and you can control the amount of cheese you use.  Seriously, even if you don't like eggplant, give this a try.  It is delicious.  And my mom taught me how to make it just like she does.  Today, I'm sharing the recipe with you, along with step by step pictures so you know exactly how to do it.
Eggplant Parmesan
recipe from Michele Scearbo

Ingredients:
2 medium or 1 large eggplant (firm to the touch)
olive oil (about 4 tablespoons)
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt, pepper
about 2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
1 jar tomato sauce, your favorite brand or homemade
mixture of Italian cheese (can by bag of preshreded mixed Italian, or grate your own) - mozzarella, Parmesan or pecorino romano and a little bit of grated cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
 Wash the eggplant.
 Stripe the sides of the eggplant with a vegetable peeler.
Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick rounds, discarding the ends of the eggplant where there are very little seeds.  I have quite a few rounds here because I made a double batch.
 Brush a large baking sheet with olive oil.
In a shallow bowl mix the eggs and milk together.  Season with salt and pepper.  In another shallow bowl add the bread crumbs.
Dip an eggplant round into the egg/milk mixture and coat on both sides.  Lightly let the excess mixture drip off and then place in the bread crumbs.
Coat both sides of the eggplant round well in the bread crumbs. 
Place the breaded eggplant rounds on the prepared baking sheet.  Continue until all the rounds have been dipped and coated.  Drizzle the tops with more olive oil.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.  You want the outside to be lightly browned but be careful not to overcook or they will start to shrink up in size and lose their good flavor.
Let the eggplant rounds cool for a couple minutes and then pair them up in stacks of two, finding equally sized rounds.
 Heat your tomato sauce up on the stove.
 Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of your pan.
Place one of the eggplant rounds from each paired stack in the pan.  Make sure you remember which round goes with the other as you do this step.  See how I have the matching rounds on the baking sheet to the right?  You need to keep track of which rounds go to together.
Grate your cheeses if you are using fresh.  I know cheddar cheese might sound odd in an Italian dish, but it is just perfect.  My mom knows what she's doing.  I think cheddar is her secret weapon that adds that kick of flavor.
 Add a small amount of sauce to the top of each eggplant round.
 Add about a tablespoon of the mixed cheeses on top of the sauce.
 Now place the matching eggplant round right on top of the other one.
Repeat the same steps as before - add a small amount of sauce on the top of the eggplant round.  Be a little more generous with the sauce so the stacks don't dry out when you are baking them and spoon enough sauce to lightly coat the sides of the stacks. I also like to add a spoonful of extra sauce in each corner of the pan.
This time add a little more cheese to the tops of the stacks, about two tablespoons on each one.  At this point you can cook this uncovered at 375 for about 25 minutes.  Or....
You can cover well and refrigerate until you are ready to bake (for up to two days); or freeze.  Or do what I did and give this yummy meal to friend who just had a baby.  Don't worry, I made sure they liked eggplant parmesan first.
Serve with pasta, Italian bread and salad.
 Delicious.  And so much healthier than traditional fried eggplant parmesan.
Doesn't that look amazing?  It is.  Trust me.  I thank my mother every time we eat this for creating such an awesome dish.  It will make you an eggplant eater.  Give it a try and let me how much you love it!  If you have leftovers, this makes a mean sandwich the next day.

3 comments:

  1. This is SO crazy...just came on your blog to get some dinner ideas for friends (I am in charge of setting up meals for the sick, surgeries, babies, etc.) I was literally stoked when I saw you had just done this yourself!! :) It looks/sounds amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This morning I went to a farmers' market and on a whim, bought an eggplant! I pinterest searched "eggplant parm" and stumbled upon this recipe! It's delicious...I just made it, exactly as you instructed. My oven cooks hot and I pulled the dish out of the oven and was worried that I burned it....turned out DELICIOUS!! Plus, a super easy & fun recipe. Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...