Friday, March 22, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

The first thing my mom taught me how to make was pancakes. The second thing she taught me was breaded chicken. I remember many, many nights standing at the counter and double-dipping chicken breasts into egg and bread crumbs. This turned out to be one of my all-time favorite dinners. As I got older, I learned that the egg and bread crumb combo could be applied to pretty much anything, like pork chops or zucchini, cube steak or eggplant. Now, I'll be honest. I love eggplant but the boys aren't really into it. But if you have boys that are anything like mine, if it's fried, they'll eat it. The first batch usually doesn't even make it to the sauce-and-cheese phase of the meal prep.

You could skip the pasta and serve the eggplant as a side dish. Or pile the leftover eggplant up on a roll for a quick lunch. Or you can cube it, bread it, melt just cheese on top, and serve it as an appetizer with a bowl of tomato sauce for dunking. I love dishes that can be switched up a bunch of ways, don't you?

Eggplant Parmesan
Makes 4 servings

What I use:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 c. bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 c. tomato sauce, warmed, plus more for the spaghetti
  • 6 slices provolone cheese (or sliced mozzarella or 1 c. shredded cheese)
  • Cooked spaghetti

How I do it:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

1. Set up your breading station by placing the flour in one shallow bowl, the beaten egg in another bowl, and mix the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt in a third bowl.

2. Peel the eggplant, then slice it into 1/4 inch thick rounds; throw away the ends.

3. One at a time, coat the slices with the flour; shake off the excess. Dip in the egg; shake. Coat with the bread crumbs; shake. Place the breaded slices on a plate until all of the slices are coated.

4. Pour enough oil into your pan to coat the bottom. Heat it over medium-low. When a pinch of flour sprinkled into the oil sizzles, it's ready.

5. Fry the eggplant in batches, 2 to 3 minutes per side. The eggplant should be soft but not squishy and the coating should be crispy and golden brown.

6. Lay the fried slices on a cooling rack over newspaper or paper towels while you finish the second batch.

7. Move all of the fried slices to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

8. Spoon some tomato sauce on each slice and top with the cheese. (Those funky looking ones in the back are dairy-free for K.)

Then I decided they needed some more cheese...

9. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Serve over cooked spaghetti.

The family says:

  • K ate it in record time and went looking for more eggplant before I was finished eating.
  • Andrew doesn't even like eggplant and he said it was very good.
  • Fried eggplant was one of the first things my mom taught me how to make and I have eaten it dozens of times. The only thing that makes it better is parmesan-ifying it. I can totally live without the pasta.

Eggplant parm, chicken parm, what other foods do you like this way?

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