Saturday, September 29, 2007
Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Italian Eggplant Parmesan)
Doesn't my eggplant parmesan look so puuurdy? And tasty too? Lil' sis ate it, but she said that's because if she tried really, really hard, she can pretend it's almost what she really wanted. I'll get to that dish in the next post. But since I'm the cook, and I love eggplant parmesan, that's what I made! Hehe. :P
Eggplant parmesan isn't terribly difficult, but there are a lot of steps so it can be time-consuming to make. Also, all the breading and cheese makes this dish quite high calorie so I've modified this recipe a bit. I'll include both options just in case, but trust me, the modifications are still very tasty.
Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmesan)
For one 8x8 pan of eggplant parmesan, you'll need:
1 24-oz jar of pasta sauce of your choice
1 medium eggplant, or 2 Japanese eggplants
1 container small curd cottage cheese (or 1 8-oz bag of shredded mozzarella)
About 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan
3/4 cup flour (or 3/4 cup bread crumbs)
1/4 cup milk
basil leaves, for edible decoration at the end
Prepping the eggplant:
If you're using a large eggplant, I recommend peeling the outside since it can be fibrous. Slice them 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Then put one layer of eggplant in a colander and sprinkle salt liberally on top, add another layer of eggplant and salt that, repeat until all eggplant is salted. Place a small plate on top of the eggplant layers, with something heavy on top of that to weigh it down and squeeze out any excess liquid. Let rest for at least 15 minutes. The salt acts to draw out the dark moisture from the eggplant and to remove some of the bitterness. When that's done, rinse the eggplant. Shake colander to drain off any remaining water, or pat dry with paper towels if you wish.
Breading the eggplant:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees if you wish to bake the breaded eggplant, or turn on stove to medium and add a few inches of oil and let it pre-heat if you plan to deep-fry the eggplant slices.
Beat 1 egg and 1/4 cup milk in a bowl. In a separate bowl, add 3/4 cup flour, or bread crumbs. Take one piece of eggplant and dip it into the egg/milk mixture, then into the flour, then egg/milk mixture again, and into the the flour again. Repeat until all eggplant is done.
I prefer to bake the eggplant to reduce my oil intake. The breaded eggplant is still crispy this way. Place the eggplant on a tray with holes such as a flat roasting rack or pizza tray and the bottoms will crisp up too. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until outside is browned.
Assembling the eggplant parmesan:
In an 8x8-inch baking pan, add a light layer of pasta sauce. Then add a layer of eggplant slices. Then small spoonfuls of cottage cheese, or mozzarella if you wish. Sprinkle a light layer of parmesan cheese. Repeat until all the eggplant is done. I prefer to leave a light layer of pasta sauce on top to keep the eggplant from burning in the oven. Add a few dollops of cottage cheese on top for a pretty effect. Bake for another 45 minutes or so.
When the eggplant parmesan is ready, remove from oven and then add basil leaves for decoration if you wish. As you can see, the cottage cheese has melted so it resembles mozzarella, but is much lower in fat and less heavy-feeling in the belly.
Cut eggplant into sections and serve with plain pasta if you wish.
Alternatively, if you don't wish to bake the eggplant parmesan into a lasagna-like dish, after breading and baking the eggplant, you can just top with pasta sauce and cheese, and serve it.