Eggplant Parmesan

Italian food, as I've mentioned before, is one of my weaknesses. It's tough to say no to a bowl full of pasta smothered in marinara sauce. Add some chicken or eggplant parm to the dish and I'm in Mediterranean dish heaven. Chicken or eggplant Parmesan tend to be my go-to dishes at Italian restaurants, and making them at home with my own seasonings just adds to the awesome.

I love cooking vegetables, for a multitude of different reasons. You can find fantastic produce prices if you shop sales, cheaper than most meats. And of course there's the obvious reason that vegetables are wonderful for you and just loaded with vitamins! I have had a blast trying recipes with Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, and Eggplant.



Being that making eggplant Parmesan is similar to chicken Parm, I took the same technique of dipping the eggplant in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.  First things first: I grabbed a sizeable eggplant at the grocery.


For the breading, I used a mixture of bread crumbs, parsley, chili powder, marjoram, basil, salt, and pepper.


I first sliced the eggplant into pieces about 1/2" thick.  Then, I got ready to bread it by beating an egg in a large plate, pouring some flour into another plate, and having the bread crumb mixture standing by.


I coated the patties by first tossing them in the flour to lightly coat both sides.  Then, I dipped them in the egg mixture, and finally coated them in bread crumbs.


I heated up some canola oil over medium high heat in my cast iron skillet, then dropped a slice in.


The patties were golden brown after 2-3 minutes on each side, and I set them on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up some of the oil.


I made my own homemade marinara sauce to spread over the top, and finished off the dish with some shredded cheese and fresh oregano.



Now this was such a good dinner.  The breading came out crispy and the eggplant was soft in the middle, just as expected, and the seasoning was perfect. The sauce came out fantastic, too, with tv combination of Marsala wine and balsamic vinegar adding a unique and complex flavor I found great.  Next time I will definitely peel the eggplant first, as the skin stayed tough.  It wasn't a disaster though, as the skin is thin and easy to remove.  I will also attempt a baked version, as of course baked is a leaner version.  To be honest, this was so good I liked it slightly better than my Chicken Parmesan.  Yum!

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
1 eggplant
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3-4 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

For the sauce:
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 can tomato paste
1 cup water
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Marsala wine
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes

Instructions:

Cut eggplant to slices 1/2" thick. In a small bowl, beat egg. On one plate, add flour, and on a second plate, mix bread crumbs, parsley, chili powder, marjoram, basil, salt, and pepper. To coat the eggplant patties, toss them in the flour to lightly coat both sides. Then, dip them in the egg mixture, and finish them by coating them in bread crumbs. Cook in canola oil heated to medium high for 2-3 minutes
per side. To make the sauce, add mushrooms, green pepper, and onion to a skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes in olive oil until vegetables soften. Add tomato paste, water, balsamic vinegar, Marsala wine, crushed red pepper, and crushed tomatoes, and cook on medium low heat for about 5 minutes. Serve eggplant topped with sauce and cheese.

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