Posted by: conradvisionquest | January 12, 2010

Eggplant for the Italian In-laws: Recipe!

Ok, the man has an Italian mamma, so you know what that means… he grew up eating amazing food.  But, when I made this eggplant parmesan recipe for him for the first time, he said it was the best he’s ever eaten!  Wow, now that’s a compliment!  When he suggested we have his parents over for dinner, we both knew what I would be making.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium to large sized eggplant
  • bread crumbs
  • eggs
  • flour
  • parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • tomato sauce
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • fresh ground sea salt

**See vegan notes below

I didn’t put any amounts for the ingredients because I just use what I need.  I have this stuff on-hand in the kitchen anyway.  The bigger the eggplant, obviously, the more of the other stuff you will need.  I have also made this dish using just one eggplant, since it’s just me and the man, and we still had leftovers for days!

Wash the eggplant and slice length-wise, 1/4 inch thick slices.  Sprinkle slices on both sides with sea salt and arrange on a cookie sheet, plates, anything flat.  I usually line whatever I lay them on with paper towels.  Let sit for at least an hour.  The salt will bring out the bitter liquid in the eggplant.  Some recipes say to soak for as much as 6 hours.  I have never tried this, because doing it for an hour (soaking the eggplant, dirty mind!!) has always been delicious.

After soaking the eggplant slices, rinse them with cold water and pat dry.  Here’s where I set up my eggplant-frying assembly line.  Get three bowls and fill the first with some flour, the second with some whisked eggs, the third with the breadcrumbs.  I use  pre-seasoned bread crumbs, but you can use plain and season with salt & pepper, oregano, thyme, whatever.  In a large skillet, heat some olive oil (enough to coat the entire pan and then a little more) over medium heat.

Working in small batches, dip each slice first in the flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs.  Make sure each slice is thoroughly covered with each ingredient on both sides.  Fry a few slices at a time until golden brown on each side, then put on a paper towel-lined plate, baking sheet, anything flat.  This is best worked as a 2 man assembly line, one person coating the slices and one person frying.  As you go through the slices, you will need to refill your skillet with more oil, and your bowls with flour, eggs, and bread crumbs as you use those ingredients up.

Once all the slices are fried, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly brush a 15x10x2 inch baking dish with olive oil.  Cover the bottom of the dish with 1/3 of the tomato sauce.  I used jarred sauce (AHH, blasphemy!) and it takes about 2 jars for all this eggplant and to have a little leftover for pasta.  Start arranging the fried slices in the pan, then cover with some sauce, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Keep layering this way, eggplant-sauce-cheese- until you’ve used all the eggplant.  Make sure the top layer gets a generous covering of sauce and cheese, as the eggplant will burn if it’s not covered completely.   Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is just beginning to brown.  Serve immediately!  Makes enough for 8 people.

Yes, it’s alot of work, but worth it!  And if you are having people over you can fry up the eggplant and do the layering a little ahead of time, that way you can just pop into the oven when guests arrive.  I have served this with a variety of sides, including the can’t miss pasta~n~sauce.  Sauteed zucchini, steamed asparagus, or fettucine alfredo are all great with this eggplant dish.

**UPDATE: Since posting this recipe, I have cut out eggs and dairy from my diet.  In place of the eggs, I used some almond milk mixed with a little mustard.  The breading didn’t stick as well, but it was still delicious.  In place of the mozzarella I just used a vegan version, and I ommitted the parmesean cheese alltogether (I guess you’ll have to call it something else if you do that!)  I know vegan parmesean exists, they just didn’t have it at my health food store.  Making these changes made it slightly different, but it was still tasty and I will definitely make it again.

Got another way to make eggplant? Let us know!

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Responses

  1. When I saw the list of ingredients, I was confused at first! Then I got to your vegan note. 🙂

    Thought I’d share this recipe with you. It’s THE recipe that taught me that I actually like eggplant. For a full 28 years of my life, I didn’t think it was possible for me to enjoy this particular vegetable. Now it’s one of my favorites! As long as it’s roasted or grilled, that is.

    I hope you try this and enjoy it as much as I did!
    http://veganyumyum.com/2009/05/rustic-bread-eggplant-lasagna/

    • i will definitely check that out. thanks for the link!
      ~w


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