We love eggplant. Eggplant everything/anything. But we especially love eggplant parmesan. For us it is comfort food. It can be quite a production to make. I found a great recipe in America's Test Kitchen: Cooking for Two 2009. This recipe scales back the work required and does it all in one skillet. For the two of us, I try to find a nice small eggplant that I cut in 1/4 inch crosswise slices - fitting easily into the skillet.
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
(I cheat and use a prepared pasta sauce -- garlic and basil.)
- 4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters (I cheat again and use 3-4 cups of Progresso bread crumbs, the no seasoned kind.)
- 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
- Table salt and ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs (I use egg beaters)
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 small globe eggplant (about 12 ounces), sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup) (I never seem to have mozzarella in the house and have never used it!)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (optional)
1. For the Tomato Sauce: (I use a prepared pasta sauce. Cuts some of the time.) Process the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and salt together in a food processor until pureed, about 15 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a liquid measuring cup, and add the reserved tomato juice as needed until the sauce measures 1 1/2 cups. (Wash and dry the bowl of the food processor before making the bread crumbs.)
2. For the Eggplant: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Pulse the bread in the food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 15 pulses (you should have about 4 cups). (I use Progresso plain bread crumbs. Again cutting the time.) Transfer the crumbs to a pie plate and stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Beat the eggs in a second pie plate. Combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large zipper-lock bag. ( I don't salt or pepper anything when I cook, especially using the already prepared pasta sauce.)
3. Place the eggplant slices in the bag of flour, shake the bag to coat the eggplant, then remove the eggplant from the bag and shake off the excess flour. Using tongs, coat the floured eggplant with the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip off. Coat the eggplant with the bread crumbs, pressing on the crumbs to help them adhere. Lay the breaded slices on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
4. Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until simmering. Add half the breaded slices to the skillet and cook until well browned on both sides, about 4 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Transfer the cooked eggplant to a wire rack and repeat with remaining breaded eggplant.
5. Pour out the oil and wipe the skillet with a wad of paper towels. Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the skillet. Layer the eggplant slices evenly into the skillet, overlapping them slightly. Dollop (I pour pasta sauce until I'm happy) the remaining 1/2 cup sauce onto eggplant and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and mozzarella, leaving the outer 1 inch of the eggplant slices clean.
6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until bubbling and the cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Let the eggplant cool for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with the basil (if using) and serve.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it's worth it! I've made this recipe so many times, that I know how much flour, bread crumbs, eggs to use for the slices of eggplant that I have. We get two meals from this recipe (along with a nice side salad). I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
We enjoyed the eggplant parmesan today. Mr. Dragon has completed his six weeks of pre-op chemotherapy and radiation therapy. He had a rough stretch that we now think was caused by a stomach virus. Now we work on building him back up -- working on stamina -- for the surgery (early March). Once again, thanks to all of you for your good wishes, prayers, vibes, juju, white light, etc. We appreciate it and it works!