Friday, May 1, 2015

Eggplant parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan
A lasagna like layered casserole with tomato herb sauce, cheese and sliced eggplant instead of pasta - Eggplant Parmesan is a true Italian comfort food - cheesy and tomato-ee with the meaty textured slices. A great option for when you are serving an Italian meal and have some vegetarian guests. 
The main thing to keep in mind here is the handling of the eggplant slices. Salting of eggplant is the key to success as this draws out the excess moisture from the slices before baking and ensures a robust sauce in the finished casserole. You don't want to end up with a watery mushy mess. 
Also am not a great fan of frying. A vegetable like eggplant absorbs a lot of oil specially when breaded, making it calorie dense (not to forget the mess in the kitchen). So I baked the breaded slices in the oven before layering it with the sauce. 

2 large eggplants
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
3/4 - 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
3/4 - 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano and thyme
5-6 cups tomato sauce (recipe here)
1 cups shredded mozzarella
Extra Parmesan cheese for topping (about 2-3 tbsp)
  1. Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Sprinkle them with salt and leave in a colander for 15-20 minutes to sweat. Extract excess water by arranging slices on a clean dish towel and patting dry.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 F. Prepare two baking sheets by brushing with oil. Set these aside. Also, grease a large (9 X 13 inch) baking dish for later and set aside.
  3. In a wide bowl whisk egg with a couple teaspoons of water. In another bowl combine equal quantities of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese (How much you need will depend on the size of your eggplants - anywhere between 3/4 to 1 cup each). Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme.   
  4. Dip eggplant slices in the egg mixture, dripping off excess. Dredge in the breadcrumb mixture and place on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, turn the slices over and bake for another 15 minutes. The slices will turn golden brown and will be cooked through. 
  5. Remove from heat and reduce the oven temp to 375 F.
  6. Spread 2 cups of tomato sauce in the baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant slices over it, cover with more tomato sauce, spread half the shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers of eggplant, then sauce followed by remaining mozzarella, topped with Parmesan.
  7. Bake uncovered at 375 F for 30-35 minutes till sauce is bubbling and cheese has melted. remove from oven, cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes before digging in.   

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