Whenever I go to an Italian restaurant, I am tempted to order either chicken parmesan or eggplant parmesan. While the server runs through the house specials, I am secretly thinking, "Hmm, I wonder how good their eggplant parmigiana is..." I have a big chunk of good parmigiano-reggiano in the refrigerator that I need to use (thanks, Papa, for bringing that back from Italy!). So last week I decided to try to make eggplant parmesan at home. I made this decision after I had already been to the grocery store, so I had to come up with a recipe that would use the two eggplants in the fridge and what I already had in the pantry. I also wanted to make it as healthy as possible (no frying!). Here's what I came up with:
1 small onion
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
Italian seasoning or basil, salt & pepper
3 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
Mozzarella cheese (2-3 cups shredded or 1 lb. fresh, sliced)
1. Peel the eggplant and cut into quarter-inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and place in colander over sink or bowl. Let sit 30 minutes (if you start this step earlier, you can let it sit up to an hour). Rinse salt off with water, then drain slices and pat dry.
2. Whisk egg whites in bowl and place breadcrumbs in separate pan or plate. Dip eggplant slices into egg, then breadcrumbs, and place in single layer on a baking sheet.
3. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes, flip slices over, and bake another 5 minutes.
4. In the meantime, make the sauce: drizzle a little olive oil into a pot and add onion; saute onion until beginning to brown; add garlic and cook another minute. Add tomatoes and seasoning to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and 1/4 teaspoon basil). Simmer sauce until eggplant is finished baking.
5. Pour half of the sauce into a 13 x 9 pan, place a layer of breaded eggplant over the sauce, then sprinkle half of mozzarella and parmesan cheese over eggplant. Repeat layers, ending with the cheese on top.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is browned and sauce is bubbling.
While the eggplant parmigiana was baking, I made some parmesan quick bread. I was so excited to get to use the new food processor I got for Christmas that I totally forgot to make some pasta to serve with the eggplant! We ended up eating the eggplant parmesan with bread and a mixed greens salad, but next time I'll try to add some whole wheat spaghetti!