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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant is a weird vegetable.  Everything from the name to the color, the shape, the's odd.  Nearly every time I ask how someone feels about eggplant, I'm given the same answer: "It can be good if it's prepared and cooked the right way."  As if they are afraid I'm going to suggest they drink eggplant milkshakes or eat it raw like an apple.  Truth be told though, I have to agree with this sentiment.  I am also hesitant to always fully commit to liking eggplant on the off chance that it will be offered to me in some awful form and I will be forced to eat it under the "you said you liked it!" obligation of etiquette.  This recipe for Baked Eggplant Parmesan however is one that I think has mass appeal...even to the most finicky of eggplant eaters.  I served this on top of whole wheat spaghetti.  I doubled the sauce recipe below and used the excess to spoon on top of the spaghetti before topping with the eggplant and a little extra fresh grated parmesan.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Preparing the Eggplant:
  • 1 eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch slices (after removing the ends, I was able to get approximately 8 slices)
  • Salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Olive oil for misting
Place eggplant slices in a single layer in colander and sprinkle with salt.  Let sit for one hour.  This allows all the moisture to drain from the eggplant and will give a better texture in the end.

1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Mix Parmesan, panko, garlic powder, and oregano in a shallow dish.  Dip each slice into beaten egg and coat each side.  Dip slice into cheese mixture and press firmly on each side to generously coat.  Place each coated slice onto baking sheet that has been misted with olive oil.
3. Mist the tops with olive oil and place in oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Preparing the Sauce:
(if you intend to serve this over spaghetti, double the sauce recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 28 oz. canned petite diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake (decrease amount of this if you prefer a less spicy sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute garlic for a few minutes.
2. Add tomato, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt.  Let sauce simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat. Add chopped basil leaves.

Put it all together:
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • baked eggplant
  • sauce
1. Reduce oven temp to 350F.
2. Mix the parmesan and mozzarella.
3. Add a spoonful of sauce to the bottom of baking pan or casserole dish and spread thinly.  Be careful not to use too much to preserve the crispiness of the baked eggplant.
4. Add eggplant slices in single layer.  Sprinkle cheese mixture across layer.  Spoon sauce on top.  Again, do not over-do the sauce as you want to maintain the crispiness.  Finish off with a more generous layer of cheese (be as generous or stingy as you like, it's all your preference).  If you are using a smaller pan, you can layer the eggplant, just be sure to finish with cheese on top.
5.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is boiling.

Serves approx 6

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