As some of our veggies start to peter out, I can count on our eggplants to continue producing beauties even into early fall. What a beautiful vegetable…but one I don’t think I enjoyed eating until just a few years ago. My mom made me try one of her eggplant dishes and I’m so glad that she did…it seems that I just may like eggplant after all. Love might be more like it…especially after I found a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan.
Two friends shared their Eggplant Parmesan recipes with us to try. (Thanks Josh and Severin!) Both are delicious and really easy to make. Here’s what you need if you want to make either on your own…
Ingredients for Eggplant Parmesan
- 2 to 3 whole eggplants (we grew Black Beauties this year)
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder (or your favorite seasoning salt)
- 1 cup flower or Italian bread crumbs
- ½ cup peanut or veggie oil
- 1-2 jar(s) of your favorite marinara sauce
- 1 container of ricotta cheese
- Fresh basil leaves (optional)
- Frozen chopped spinach (optional)
- Fresh shredded parmesan cheese
How to Prepare Eggplant Parmesan
Prep your Eggplant:
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk your egg, milk, salt and pepper together…you can also add garlic powder or seasoning salt to this milk-wash if you’d like.
- Wash and cut your eggplants into 1/4 inch round slices.
- Pour your flour or bread crumbs in a pan.
- Once everything is prepped, you will dip the slices of eggplant in the egg/milk wash getting them fully soaked. Once the eggplant slices are adequately covered in the egg/milk wash, dredge them in the flour/breadcrumbs so that both sides are covered.
Cooking Your Eggplant:
Here are two options for cooking your eggplant.
Option #1: In a skillet, get your oil very hot and flash fry the eggplant until golden brown. The flash frying should only take a minute for each side. You don’t want or need to cook the eggplant too much, as you will be baking it soon. Once you take the eggplant out of the oil try to pat them off a bit with a paper towel so they are not too greasy.
Option #2 (Healthier): Instead of flash frying, place the coated eggplant on a wire rack or a cookie sheet. Set your oven to broil and place the cookie sheet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the eggplant turns a light golden color. Once done let the eggplant slices cool.
Tip: Did you know that you can prep the eggplant in the oven and then freeze them to use in future recipes? Well you can! All you have to do is let the cooked eggplant discs cool completely after broiling them and then place them in large Ziploc freezer bags and place in the freezer. Then you can pull them out up to three months later and finish making your Eggplant Parmesan. Just defrost and then start the layering process.
Layering Your Eggplant:
Pour a small amount of marinara sauce in the bottom of your glass dish to help keep the eggplant from sticking. Then layer the prepared eggplant on top of the red sauce. Next you will spread a thin layer of the ricotta cheese on top of the eggplant. If you find it hard to spread the ricotta cheese, you can dollop a tablespoon of the ricotta every one to two inches in the pan. I suggest using low-fat ricotta so it isn’t too rich. Next you will pour some more marinara sauce over the eggplant.
Then repeat the layering process one or two more times…marinara sauce, then eggplant, then ricotta. You can actually choose to do one, two or three layers depending on the size of your dish and how much eggplant you have or want. End with marinara and then sprinkle fresh shaved parmesan cheese on top.
Variations for Added Flavor or Health:
- This is my favorite variation to add some delicious, unexpected flavor…if you have fresh basil leaves, cut it up into slivers and add it as a layer on top of the eggplant.
- To boost the nutritional value of your eggplant parmesan, mix chopped spinach into your ricotta cheese. Just defrost and drain a box of frozen chopped spinach. Then mix the spinach with one large ricotta cheese tub, one egg and salt/pepper. Use this as your ricotta cheese spread layer.
Cook: Finally, bake at 350 until bubbling…about 15 minutes for a single layer or about 25-35 minutes for two to three layers.
All that’s left now is to serve it up and enjoy. All 4 of us loved our eggplant parmesan…so it will probably get on a regular veggie rotation, especially on our “Meatless Mondays”.