Sunday, September 23, 2012

Baked Eggplant Parmesan [Zack]

Looking for a veg alternative for chicken parmesean?  This recipe uses baked eggplant - instead of first breading and then frying the pieces.  It's healthier and has a fresher flavor.

I came up with this variation on eggplant parmesean because I made a large batch of breadcrumbs and didn't know what to do with them.  As with all of my experiments, Lauren wants to make sure I use them before I forget about them.  Can't blame her, huh?

If you guys are rocking a veg night a few times a week like we do, give this one a shot.  You can pre-make this and throw it in the oven on a weeknight.


The first step is to wash and then slice the eggplant.  I chose to make almost 1" slices so they'd create a nice bite.

Once you slice them up, salt them fairly generously and then let them sit in a colander for about 30 minutes.  The salt will pull out the water by osmosis and some of the bitterness as well.

While the salt is being mysterious with your eggplant, start a fresh pomodora sauce.  Slice your shallots, mince your garlic, and add it to a heavy-bottomed pot with some olive oil over medium heat.  You'll want to sweat them for about 5 minutes.  Add in your thyme sprigs, basil leaves, and cherry tomatoes.

Cook for another minute or 2, then add in the puree.

Cover the pot and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add a pinch of salt after it's finished cooking to taste.  The sauce can hang out until you are ready to use it.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F / 200C.  Your eggplant should be about finished sweating by now.  Brush the water off of the eggplant, give them a quick squeeze to make sure a good amount of the water is gone, and place on a baking dish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.  Some cracked pepper never hurts.

You should roast them for about 30 minutes until they are nicely browned.

While this is goin, loosely chop your buffalo mozzarella.  Make sure to drain the motz as much as possible.  Mix it together with ricotta.  If you let this sit for a while, the water will naturally run out and you can drain it further.

Go grab your baking dish and spread some red sauce over the bottom.  Take the roasted eggplant out and place over top the thin layer of sauce.  Then add the cheese on top of that.

The final step is to top this with breadcrumbs.  I made mine from scratch, but feel free to use the stuff from the grocery store, combined with a bit of olive oil to give it some oomph.

When you're ready to serve, bake at 400F / 200C until the breadcrumbs are nicely browned and it's warmed through.

(makes about 6 dinner-sized servings)
56 oz tomato puree
12 cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2 shallots
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small handful basil

1/2 cup mascarpone
2 motz buffo balls

herbed breadcrumbs to top it all off

Song to dubstep to:  Alex Clare - Too Close
Too Close by Alex Clare on Grooveshark

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