Monday, March 2, 2009

My friend the eggplant

I have always liked eggplant parmesan. Eggplant parmagiana. Whatever you want to call it. Oozy goey slices of cheese between slices of fried eggplant. What's not to love? When I was a kid, my dad was not a big eggplant fan, apparently. He has been a late converter to the delights of the aubergine, so while the parents were visiting this last week, I thought I'd make a batch of eggplant parmesan. That thought handily coincided with some magnificent specimens at the local grocery store!

And of course I have to make it more healthfully than the eggplant parmesan of yesteryear. I just can't do the whole fried thing and feel good about it anymore. I can let OTHER people fry my supper (the next night we had burgers and shakes and onion rings from the famed IceBurg), but I just can't bring myself to do it... just trying to keep the universe properly balanced on the grease scale, I suppose. So this is my healthy-ish version.

Eggplant parmesan
3 medium eggplants, sliced to 1/3-inch rounds

Salt the slices lightly and let sit in a colander for 15 minutes or so. There are those who say to salt it to remove any bitterness, and those who say to salt it to get rid of excess moisture. Either way, I salt it, let it sit, and then rinse it off (so how does that help with excess moisture? Don't ask, just do.) and pat it dry.

3 eggs, beaten, mixed with 1 T milk

Heat a skillet or frying pan to medium heat. I use a nonstick electric skillet, so the need for additional oil is minimal. Use olive or vegetable oil as needed. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, then dredge in breadcrumbs. Cook until both sides are browned nicely (see photo above!).

I have concocted my own homemade marinara in the past, but this time we went straight to the jarred variety and had it easy and still flavorful. Layer the cooked eggplant slices with marinara, grated mozzarella and parmesan in a large baking dish (9 x 13), and top the mixture with more cheese. As you can see from the photo below, I used my REALLY large Le Creuset baking dish and even though I did three layers of eggplant and would normally have been overflowing a 9 x 13 pan, it maybe came half way up the side of this pan!

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until the entire mixture is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

Serve with a lovely mixed green salad and crusty bread! And enjoy the leftovers, too. This one is even better warmed the next day.

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