Food Network. Eggplant looks like one of those vegetables that is great for everyone else to eat but not something I would get excited about trying. Okay, the eggplant has made a journey to this kitchen once upon a time because of a magazine recipe with this gorgeous picture of grilled eggplant. What could be easier? The grilling experience was a failure. The eggplant was soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside, the skin was tough and the flavor had a bitter taste to it. Time has past, about 2 years later, and I am ready for a new go at eggplant. I think all of us who truly love food in just about every form understand there "has" to be a way to cook or bake something so we will actually like it. Well, I found a way to enjoy eggplant....Oven-Fried Eggplant Parmesan...Delicious!
For the sauce, I used a jar of freshly canned spaghetti sauce from a friend who goes by the name of JJ. This man is amazing! He finds a recipe and re-creates the recipe to bring about another JJ masterpiece~! JJ, thank you for helping add to making my eggplant Parmesan pop with flavor. To everyone else in the food blogging world ~ basil, tomato, and seasoning of choice in a marinara or spaghetti sauce will make this dish crazy delicious!
You will need:
2 lbs. or about 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4-inch thick round slices
4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten
3 cups dry fine breadcrumbs, I use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 t. chopped fresh thyme
Canola oil for frying, about 2 cups
4 cups of your choice for marinara or spaghetti sauce, warmed
16 basil leaves, torn into large pieces
10 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
6 ounces freshly grated Grana Padano cheese(1 1/2 cups)~you can use freshly grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Put down a layer of eggplant slices, sprinkle generously with salt, add another layer of paper towel, and repeat so forth for the rest of the eggplant. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Put the flour and egg in separate wide shallow bowls. In another wide bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the thyme and 1/2 t. salt. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour, dip in the egg, and then coat with the breadcrumbs, pressing down to pat the crumbs onto the eggplant.
Line the baking sheet with fresh paper towels. Pour enough oil into a large saucepan to measure about 1/2-inch deep. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F. (If you dip a piece of eggplant into the oil, it will sizzle immediately).
Working in batches, add as much eggplant to the pan as will fit in a single layer and fry, flipping once, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat, layering the fried eggplant between pieces of paper towel and adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain 350 degrees F., until all of the eggplant is fried.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. and position a rack in the center of the oven. Arrange a layer of eggplant in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Top with 1 cup of the marinara and then sprinkle with one-third of the basil, mozzarella, and Grana Padano. Repeat with 2 more layers of the remaining eggplant, marinara, basil, mozzarella, and Grana Padano.
Bake until the cheese melts and browns and the sauce bubbles around the sides, 25 to 30 minutes (cover with foil if top browns too quickly). Let cool for a couple of minutes, then cut into pieces, and serve...YUMMY!
I found freshly made and packaged pasta to cook and put the Eggplant Parmesan over...added freshly baked with garlic and buttered bread and dinner is served.
I have now found my new way to enjoy eggplant...Delicious!