Eggplant Parmesan

Labor Day Weekend. Wow.

I’m under the impression that people think chefs like to eat everything. That’s not always the case. I, for one, have historically avoided eggplant – until I started growing it. A neighbor once passed along an eggplant seedling for my vegetable garden. Suddenly, I was growing all of the ingredients for ratatouille, and I tell you WHAT. I ate it UP.

I have also learned to love Eggplant Parmesan. For me, the key to this dish is salting the eggplant and letting it sit for one hour to draw the water out from it before doing anything else. I hope you love it, too.

Eggplant Parmesan, Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • dried oregano, red chili flakes, splash of red wine
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package directions, for serving
  • chopped chives, parsley or basil for garnish

Directions:

  1. Slice eggplant into 8-10 even slices. Sprinkle slices on both sides with kosher salt and set salted eggplant aside in a colander, overĀ  a plate or in the sink. Allow it to rest for 1 hour.
  2. Wipe eggplant, on both sides, with a paper towel to remove salt and water. Do not rinse it! The purpose of this step is to remove the salt and moisture.
  3. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. If you’re adding a splash of red wine to the tomato sauce, do that here, and let it simmer for one minute. Add the crushed tomatoes (careful, they may splatter). Allow sauce to simmer for 10 minutes and then set aside. Season to taste with oregano, chili flakes, salt and pepper.
  4. In a shallow dish, whisk the eggs to combine. Pour the bread crumbs into another shallow dish.
  5. Coat each slice of eggplant, on both sides, with the egg mixture and then with breadcrumbs. Set prepared eggplant aside on a baking sheet.
  6. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Find an 8×8 baking dish, or similar sized dish for baking, and set it aside.
  7. Heat some of the vegetable oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Pan fry the breaded eggplant until golden. Do just a few slices at a time, regulating the heat, for about 2 minutes on each side. Add vegetable oil in small amounts as required. When it comes out of the pan, place the eggplant on paper towels to soak up excess oil.
  8. Grab that 8×8 baking dish. Put a little tomato sauce in the bottom and spread it to cover the bottom of the pan. Lay a single layer of eggplant – 4 or 5 slices. Cover the eggplant with a little sauce. Top it with Parmesan cheese. Layer the remaining 4-5 slices of eggplant on top of the first layer. Add more sauce to cover and top with mozzarella cheese (and any extra Parmesan). Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and melty. Serve eggplant over spaghetti and garnish with fresh herbs.
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