Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant was one of those foods that I would always pass over on restaurant menus and supermarkets alike.  It just never appealed to me for the longest time.  Then, one fateful day, I decided to try an eggplant Parmesan somewhere and have been a fan ever since.  I don't necessarily do a lot of cooking with it at this point, but I now know that, despite its less-than-savory name (even though I knew it didn't taste anything like eggs - which disgust me), it is a very versatile and tasty vegetable.  Bread it and fry it up with cheese and pasta just makes it that much more appealing!

This vegetarian meal can be made in less than an hour.  You can halve that if you use pre-made marinara sauce in place of the basic tomato sauce below.

  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 package linguine or spaghetti pasta
  • Flour
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 2 fresh mozzarella balls, thinly sliced
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese
  1. Slice the eggplant width-wise in 1/4" discs
  2. Lightly salt both sides of the eggplant slices and place in a colander and let sit.  This will draw out some of the water from the vegetable.
  3. In a sauce pot, sauté the garlic and onion with extra virgin olive oil until tender
  4. Toss in the tomatoes and a few shakes of red pepper
  5. Stir the tomatoes for a couple minutes then add 2 cups of water
  6. Bring to a boil
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. When the tomatoes soften, remove the pot from heat and blend with an immersion blender.  A standard blender will work also if you don't have an immersion blender.
  9. Return the pot to the stove and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally
  10. While the sauce is reducing, start boiling the pasta in a separate pot
  11. At this point, the eggplant slices should have had time to dehydrate a bit (you'll see a small puddle of water under the colander)
  12. Setup an assembly line on your prep surface with the following items: 1 plate with flour, 1 plate or shallow bowl with the eggs, 1 plate with breadcrumbs and 1 empty plate (for the prepped eggplant slices)
  13. To bread the eggplant slices, dredge each side of the slice through the flour first, then the egg (allowing excess to drip off), then finally the bread crumbs and place it on the final plate
  14. Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with extra virgin olive oil and bring to medium-high heat
  15. Gently place the eggplant slices in the pan
  16. Flip the eggplant slices after the first side browns
  17. Add a slice or two of mozzarella to each eggplant slice as the bottom side cooks
  18. When the bottoms have browned, transfer to a paper towel covered plate (to absorb the excess oil)
  19. At this point, the pasta should be ready for plating.  Strain the pasta and add some to the serving plates, followed by a couple slices of eggplant, followed by a ladle of sauce topped off with freshly grated Parmesan cheese

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