A Parm With A Charm

I love me some parm.

Yes, I’m talking about Parmesan, for all those non-cool-kid lingoers.

I especially love when I can slap some parm on something from our Bountiful Basket, as it makes me feel better about buying such expensive cheeses.

This week there was an Italian Pack add-on.

We all know what that means!

EGGPLANT

Not just any eggplant though.

Some more uber fancy Eggplant Parmesan

Which reminds me – did you know that eggplant was a fruit?

Apparently that’s the truth, and it’s left me feeling like a kid who just found out Santa was a scam.  Kind of freaks me out.  I mean, tomatoes are a fruit – posing as a vegetable, and they freak me out.  So to test out my feelings about eggplant, again (since I was utterly in love the first time – you know, back when I still thought it was a vegetable?) I’ve put some plant du egg on the chopping block.

Literally.

The last time I made Eggplant Parmesan it was wonderful.  Scrumptious in fact.

Only problem –

It was a fried variety.

I don’t really like fried foods.

They make me think of the Fair.

Which makes me think of fried butter.

Followed by me praying to the great Gods of the White Throne.

All in all, not a good thing.

So, I did what any girl would do.  I looked for some help from Anni.  Her version had me thinking that there was a way to make something reminiscent of the fried kind, without the fried part.

This my friends, is my alterations of Anni’s recipe – changes made not because they were necessary, but because I don’t like to follow recipes.

What can I say, I live on the wild side, at least in the comfort of my kitchen, safely locked away inside our house, nice and secure.

Eggplant  Procedure:

1 Eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch wide rounds

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups panko bread crumbs

3/4 cup fresh shredded parm

pinch of salt

fresh pepper

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3 eggs

EVOO

Sauce Procedure:

1 1/2 small cans diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp EVOO

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

Layering Procedure:

1 cup fresh mozzarella, shredded

1/2 cup fresh parm, shredded

3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Step One: Bleed the eggplant

Okay.  You’re shedding it of extra water, not blood.  Still, it’s pretty fun.

In a large bowl, combine kosher salt and eggplant.  Mix until well combined.  Transfer eggplant to a colander and place that back inside the bowl.  Let rest for about 30-45 minutes, or until you bled about 1 Tbsp of liquid from the eggplant

Mmmm juicy

Discard liquid, and pat the eggplant dry with a clean towel.

Preheat the oven to 425degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven while it heats.

Now grab three shallow bowls.

In one combine the flour and a quick twist of fresh pepper.

In the second, whisk eggs

In the third, combine the panko, pinch of salt, parmesan.

Take the baking sheet out of the oven and coat evenly with EVOO.

Now, assembly line.  Ford style.

Eggplant gets coated in flour, dipped in egg, coated heavily with breadcrumb mixture, and placed on baking sheet.

Proceed to drizzle a little more EVOO over the eggplant.  Not necessary, but I think it helps the coating stay on.

Place in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning and flipping the “fruit” after 15 minutes.

While those bake, it’s time for the sauce!

Coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan with EVOO, add oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Serious Mmmms.  There’s just something about the smell of fresh garlic.  It’s bliss.

After the garlic has begun to brown over medium heat, add the rest of the sauce ingredients – tomatoes, paste annnnndd

Fresh herbies!

That’s my basil, rosemary and the parsley garnish!

Let the sauce simmer until the eggplant is done.  I mash up the tomatoes near the end with a pastry cutter thing.  You can use the edge of a spoon or a potato masher – or just leave them dicey and chunky.

When your eggplant is done, it’s time for some layering action, just like lasagna.

Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with about 1/2 cup of sauce.

Layer with eggplant, 1/2 cup sauce, 1/2 mozzarella, 1/2 parm, more eggplant….and so on.  You get it, right?

Okay, I took a few pictures for you –

Get it?

Then back into the oven for about 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, top with parsley, and enjoy!

My Hubby liked this better than the previous version we made.

So did I!

Perfectly crisp eggplant, savory fresh sauce, lots of cheese, fresh herbs.  Seriously, you can’t go wrong with this one.

*Swoon*

Eggplant, you may be a fruit…wearing the mask of a vegetable.  But I still adore you.

Maybe we’ll see each other next Italian Pack week?  I hope so!

PS – I hate that I’m lost without our SLR. Brother is using my Love this week, so I’m resorting to the old PS (point and shoot) which, unfortunately, is just not up to par with the SLR photos.  I feel like I’m shooting without arms.

SLR I LOVE YOU (more than eggplant 🙂 )

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