Friday, August 2, 2013

"Express" Eggplant Parmesan

I've never eaten eggplant IN MY LIFE before this, and after reading some of the recipes on the 'Net, I came up with a slightly "express" version for Eggplant Parmesan.  I only had one eggplant, so this will make about 9 servings.   If you'd like,  you can make your pasta sauce from scratch. (I suggest making it the day before, if you do.)  For this first time, I used a prepared sauce - that's mainly why I'm calling it "express!"  :-)

(1) 23-25 ounce jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 eggplant
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
2.5 - 3 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
2 T. Italian seasoning (or 1 T. dried oregano / 1 T. thyme)
Vegetable oil, for frying, as needed (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
2 - 2 1/2  cups of shredded Italian Cheese Blend (mozzarella, provolone)
1/2 cup dried Parmesan


For the eggplant:  Cut into planks or rounds.

Arrange the eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, on both sides of each slice, and allow it to sit for about an hour. (Salting it draws out the liquid and bitter flavor.)

Sprinkle With Salt to Pull Out the Water and Bitterness

Water Being Drawn Out from Salting Of Eggplant

After an hour, rinse with cold water and dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. In another, whisk together the eggs and milk. In a third bowl or pie plate, combine the breadcrumbs with the oregano and thyme (or Italian seasoning blend).

Dip each eggplant slice in the flour and shake off any excess.

 Then, dip in the egg mixture and finally in the breadcrumbs.

Make sure to coat both sides of each slice.  Arrange them in single layers back on the baking sheets.

In a large skillet, pour enough oil to accumulate about 1/2-inch in the bottom. Heat the oil until to about 350 - 375 degrees F (deep frying temp).

Use a pair of kitchen tongs to add a single layer of the eggplant to the oil. Cook them until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.

Remove from the oil and transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a kitchen towel so the eggplant can drain as the others cook. Season lightly with salt. Take care to reheat the oil back up to temperature before adding another batch of slices to the pan.

To assemble: In an 8" x 8" baking dish,  spoon about one-third of the tomato sauce on the bottom.

Top with a layer of the fried eggplant. The eggplant slices can overlap slightly.

Top with a layer of cheese. Sprinkle with about one-quarter of the Parmesan over the top.

Spoon more sauce and repeat the layering process. Top with the remaining mozzarella / cheese blend.

Place the dish in the top part of the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 30 to 45 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly (about 15 minutes) to make cutting it a bit easier.  (Don't you just love that baked cheese crust on the sides?  Yummmm!)

* Cook's Note:  You can easily double the recipe. If you do, use a 17- by 11-inch baking dish.

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