Eggplant. I repeat, Eggplant. Do not be scared of it! It is so delicious when prepared the right way. I promise.
Here, have a look for yourself…
Since Lauren and I prepared some Mediterranean-style, grilled eggplant sandwiches for work yesterday, we still had a large portion of the eggplant hanging out in the fridge. On occasion, the remaining eggplant half might just end up pushed to the back only to be found during an intense cleaning session, thus resulting in a mass exodus of forgotten leftovers. We tried to steer clear of this from happening (again), so it was time for an eggplant parmesan creation.
Here are a few rules of thumb when preparing Eggplant:
1) Make sure you pick a fairly solid eggplant; if it is squishy in spots or feels hollow, steer clear.
2) Cut thick slices (about 1/2 in.); if slices are too thin, then they will turn out soggy and mushy and you will be so sad.
3) Soak up moisture. Use an old towel to press each side of the eggplant slices, before breading them, which will ensure a crispy and firm baked eggplant result.
For the Eggplant:
Prepare a dredging station consisting of the following:
- bowl with a 1/2 cup flour
- bowl with 2 eggs, beaten
- bowl with breadcrumb mixture (2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, additional dash of oregano, thyme, basil)
Don’t be shy, smother eggplant slices in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place on foiled cooking sheet and bake for around 10 minutes on each side in a 400 degree oven.
Meanwhile, start preparation For the Sauce:
1/2 Jar of tomato & basil marinara
1 Mexican squash (zucchini is fine too)
1 Medium onion
6-8 Small crimini mushrooms
1 Can drained diced tomatoes
Handful of fresh spinach
Garlic powder, salt, pepper (to taste)
Directions: Saute onions for a few minutes. Add in the diced squash and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the spinach, and let simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Turn off the heat and stir in a handful or two of spinach.
Now, for the layering!
Start with a base of sauce. About a cup covered the bottom of our casserole dish.
Then put first round of eggplant slices atop the sauce. Follow with a few handfulls of spinach and cheese (we cut back on the mozzarella this time, and used a pre-shredded, 6- cheese Italian mix, along with some grated Parmesan & Romano.
Now, its time for the last layer of crispy eggplant slices. Lastly, top with a thin blanket of shredded cheese (mozzarella or the 6-cheese blend that we used) and grated Parmesan.
Put it in the oven and let cook at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is looking golden brown. Remove, and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into it, so that its not so messy when dishing it up.
From the Little Yellow Kitchen