baked eggplant parm + excuses

I have a mouth full of excuses.  The gloriousness of New York, a full-time job, an apartment without a kitchen, a broken computer, and a three-week backpacking trip to Asia does not a good blogger make.  I'm sorry.  Really, I mean it.  

If it makes you feel better, I'm now back in Boston and starting my final year of school.  And no offense to everyone who loves Boston and law school, but those two things in combination usually leads to one thing: losing myself in food, recipes, and cooking to distract myself from misery.  My stress is your gain!  

One more minor, administrative, trivial matter.  I've started eating...healthier.  I know what I named my blog.  I know that the last 3 posts have been pork saturated/deep-fried.  I still love (and crave) pate, cheeseburgers, bacon egg and cheeses, and pancetta.  But my jeans are begging me to exercise some moderation, and I've made a resolution to myself to make some changes.  

So what's healthier than breaded eggplant baked with cheese??  Baby steps. 

baked eggplant parm  recipe from good ole' Martha 
serves 4
1 large eggplant
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella
3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
handful of parm 

sauce: (you can also use your favorite store-bought sauce)

1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can whole tomatoes
dried herbs (thyme, oregano, parsley)
red pepper flakes
brown sugar (optional)

Sauce: heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Sautee the onions and garlic, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and translucent.  Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, and whatever dried herbs you have on hand.  Crush the tomatoes with your hands into the pan (wear an apron for this - I have splattered tomato pulp onto my face and clothes every single time without fail).  Simmer for 30-40 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Sometimes I find tomato sauces to have an acidic tinny quality; a sprinkling of brown sugar dissolved into the sauce usually does the trick.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray the bottom of a baking sheet with oil.  Whisk the egg and a splash of water in a wide shallow bowl, and season with salt and pepper.  Fill another wide shallow bowl with the breadcrumbs.  Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch slice rounds.  Dip each round into the egg mixture, letting excess drip off, dredge in the breadcrumbs; place on baking sheet.  Spray the top of all the eggplant slices with oil before baking them.  Bake for 25 minutes; turn all slices and bake another 25 minutes.  Remove eggplant from oven and raise temperature to 400 degrees.      

Get to layering!  The number of layers you have may depend on your eggplant parm vessel.  I used a circular casserole pan, which gave me a lovely three.  Just remember the pattern: sauce first in the bottom of the pan, layer of eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese.  Sprinkle your top layer of mozzarella with a dusting of parm.

Bake until the cheese gets those amazing brown spots and the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.    


Claire said...

I think having an apartment without a kitchen is a superb excuse. Still, I'm glad you're back!

Jewkes88 said...

Hey Jennifer!

I just gave the eggplant parm a try. Knock out stuff. I completely ignored your advice about the apron so I now own a dedicated 'cooking with tomato sauce' shirt. Touche Jennifer. Touche :)

- Alex Jewkes

Anonymous said...

This recipe was great!!! I'm usually horrible at cooking egg plant but this turned out perfectly.

saltandlove said...

i'm so glad it turned out well!

Michelle McClafferty said...

Made this tonight, with some improv given a lack of ingredients. Used panko instead of breadcrumbs and added mushroom and spinach layers. glad to have the leftovers!