Each year I decide to try planting and cooking with an item I actually don't enjoy eating. This year's crop is eggplant, specifically the Black Beauty variety. Oh, how lovely the color is! It's a VINO's (vegetarian in name only) dream.
They start out so cute, don't they?! Anyway, the best way to enjoy them, in my humble opinion, is with a light fry. After a little trial and error, I believe the best eggplant parmesan recipe has been perfected!
Ode to Eggplant Parm
One large eggplant
1/2 cup panko, mixed with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan, separated
Mike's red sauce (recipe follows)
8 oz pasta
Mike's Red Sauce:
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, fresh or store bought
1 small onion, or whatever onion remnants you have in the fridge (zero waste!), diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp oregano
1/4 cup wine, whatever you have open in the fridge
Olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes
For the red sauce: heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium pot over medium high heat. Saute the onion and garlic with a large pinch of salt until softened. Add the wine and allow to boil almost down to nothing. Pour in the tomatoes, swishing a little water in the can or jar to get every bit out. Add the herbs, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and fresh black pepper to taste. Cover and simmer as long as you'd like - the longer, the better!
For the eggplant: cut the eggplant into rounds and put onto a cutting board flat. Sprinkle with salt to let the eggplant "sweat" and remove the bitterness. (This should take about 30 minutes. Make the red sauce while this is happening!) Wipe the salt and sweat off with a reusable rag.
Preheat your oven to 350.
Dip the eggplant into the beaten egg, then into the panko. Press the panko into the eggplant and set aside. Heat 1/4 cup high heat oil (in our case, safflower) in a cast iron skillet. Fry the eggplant until lightly browned and heavenly on each side, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer the fried eggplant to a cooling rack that's nestled into a baking sheet to allow to drip without waste. Once cooled slightly, place into a baking dish and sprinkle with mozzarella first, then topped with parmesan. Bake for about 10 minutes while your pasta cooks. (The variation of not adding your sauce to the baking dish keeps your eggplant intact, which adds a lovely texture to your meal!)
Enjoy, fellow eggplant-triers!
Bless your kitchen,
Dallas Farmer Gal