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Eggplant Parmesan

January 23, 2011

Thanks for this one go to my good friend Jess who first introduced me four years ago, both to cooking with eggplant and to her mother’s eggplant parmigiana.  It was absolutely delicious and I was instantly smitten.  One of the things we talked about, as two dietitians, while we hovered over the stove in Jess’s rented house was the amount of oil it took to get the eggplant nicely browned and crispy.  Jess insisted that her mother’s eggplant parm was far better than anything she’d ever been able to make and concluded that it was because she just couldn’t bring herself to use enough oil when panfrying the eggplant.

This thought has been in the back of my mind ever since as I’ve tried, repeatedly, to create an oil free eggplant parm that is still as delicious as that first taste I had in Jess’s kitchen.  My first attempt was, sadly, pitiful and I almost gave up.  But the glut of gorgeous summer eggplant at my new local farmers’ market persuaded me to try again.  The end result is this:  a light combination of crunchy on the outside, melting on the inside eggplant, fresh basil, whole wheat pasta, and roasted red peppers.  To be honest, this method of cooking the eggplant is so delicious that I stood over the stove and ate a couple slices before I remembered I’d planned to eat it over pasta.  That said, the roasted red peppers really set off the eggplant.   If you want to skip the pasta, try serving your eggplant slices with a side of marinara sauce with roasted peppers – it’s an easy way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies!

A few side notes:  use smaller eggplant.  They’re less likely than larger eggplant to be bitter, so you can skip the salting and rinsing step, which I always mess up anyway.  I always end up with over-salted or soggy eggplant.  Also, once broiled, the eggplant does not keep or reheat well, so try to only make as much as you’ll eat immediately.  A small to medium eggplant will serve 1-2 people.  Panko breadcrumbs get crispier this way than traditional breadcrumbs do, which is why I use them.  If you don’t have Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, just add a little bit of garlic powder and Italian seasoning to plain panko.  I don’t provide measurements for the panko because I just added a little more to my dunking bowl as I needed it  to avoid waste.  Same for the parmesan –since I grate my own, I just did a little bit at a time to avoid grating too much and wasting it.  I use a coarse grate because I think it allows more of the parmesan flavor to burst through.

1 small eggplant

1 egg, lightly beaten

Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs

Fresh, coarsely grated parmesan cheese

1-2 tbsp roasted red pepper (per person)

¼- ½ cup marinara sauce (per person)

Cooked whole wheat pasta (I used rotini) ¾ cup per person

A few leaves of fresh basil

1.       Get everything ready first:  Preheat your broiler.  Set a cooling rack on a cookie sheet.  Pour some of the panko into one bowl, scramble the egg in another.

2.       Slice eggplant cross wise into ½ thick inch slices.  Discard ends.

3.       Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg, then the bread crumbs, being sure to coat both sides.  Set in a single layer on your rack.

4.       Once you’ve breaded all the eggplant, sprinkle about a ½ tbsp of parmesan on each slice, then pop under the broiler on a middle rack.  The rack allows hot air to circulate so both sides of the eggplant get crispy, rather than having a soggy underside.

5.       Broil eggplant about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy and tender inside when poked with a fork.

6.       While the eggplant is under the broiler, smash up the roasted red pepper and mix into your marinara sauce, then toss with your hot cooked pasta.  The heat from the pasta should be enough to heat the sauce.  If not, put back into the empty pasta pot and stir over low heat until hot enough to serve.

7.       Sliver or chiffonade your basil.

8.       When everything is done, set a couple slices of eggplant on top of pasta and top with a few slivers of basil.

Serves 1-2

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. christiane permalink
    January 23, 2011 8:57 pm

    O I have to try this one. I can’t say the cranky one will like it but this is right up my alley!

    • cooklaughlove permalink*
      January 23, 2011 9:02 pm

      I’m biased of course, but this is my favorite way to prepare eggplant – it’s amazing! hope you like it as much as I do!

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