I enjoy a well made eggplant parmesan all year round but for some reason it just isn’t a dish I make as often as I should. I had bought a few beautiful fresh eggplants to make this dish for my husband and I one Sunday and then we had unexpected company coming over instead. I didn’t have enough eggplants to make the dish as I usually do with my eggplant slices layered between sauce and creamy ricotta cheese, so instead I decided to create mini eggplant parms that I could serve as an appetizer instead. Luckily (since I hadn’t completed a test run on my husband first as I usually do) they were received well by all and in fact everyone loved them so much I had wished I had more of them. Since I like to keep our menu as heathy as possible, I dislike frying the eggplant first which many recipes call for. But, since these little minis were standing all on their own they needed a nice crisp exterior. I found by breading and baking them with just a little olive oil spray I was able to achieve the crisp, brown crust I wanted. Once browned and crisp, I simply spooned on some of my favorite Quick Tomato Sauce, sprinkled them generously with grated parmesan cheese and popped them in a very hot oven just before I served them.
Although my Eggplant Parm appetizer worked out as well as I had hoped, these delicious tidbits are not sturdy enough to be finger food and still need to be eaten with a knife and fork. They would also be a great addition to a holiday buffet table or an antipasti tray. I am certainly planning on serving these tasty tidbits over the holidays this year. What is great about them for entertaining is that you can cook them with the breading earlier in the day, and then simply spoon on the sauce and cheese and reheat them just before serving. You could play around with this recipe by adding some grated mozzarella cheese in place of, or along with some of the parmesan, or even add a slice of prosciutto, or even cooked ham (prosciutto cotto) under the tomato sauce. I think next time I may even add a spoonful of ricotta cheese on the eggplant before I add the tomato sauce and grated cheese.
Eggplants usually range in color from, pale violet to purple, and can even be found in a white variety. It is generally better to buy a smaller eggplant, as it will be less bitter and have fewer seeds. Store them in a cool place and cook preferably within two days after purchase. Some cooks never feel it necessary to peel the skin of an eggplant before cooking, while others always do. That is simply personal preference, and I sometimes do depending on the recipe, or the size of the eggplant, as generally the larger the eggplant, the tougher the skin. Salting is another matter that has cooks disagreeing, but I generally salt any eggplant that I have not picked fresh myself from my own garden. Salting not only removes the bitter juices, but will help prevent the eggplant from absorbing oil if frying is the preparation method of choice. To “salt” an eggplant, simply sprinkle coarse salt uniformly on slices placed in a colander. Place a weight upon the slices, and let them drain in the sink for at least 30 minutes. Later, just pat dry of any excess salt and use in your recipe.
Deborah Mele 2011
Eggplant Parmesan Appetizer
These tasty eggplant rounds are great additions for an appetizer platter, and taste just like Eggplant Parmesan.
- 3 Medium Italian Eggplants (Salting Optional ~ See Note Above)
- 1 Cup All-purpose Flour Seasoned With Salt & Pepper
- 3 Cups Seasoned Breadcrumbs
- 3 Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Milk
- Olive Oil Spray
- 1 Recipe Prepared Tomato Quick Sauce (Or Use Your Own Personal Favorite Homemade Tomato Sauce)
- 2 Cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat oven to 365 degrees F.
- Leaving the skin on, slice the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices.
- Set up three bowls on your working surface, one with flour, one with the two eggs beaten with the milk, and one with the bread crumbs.
- Take a large baking sheet and coat lightly spray with olive oil.
- Dredge each eggplant slice first in the flour and gently shake to remove excess.
- Next drop the eggplant slice into the egg mixture allowing excess to drip off.
- Finally, lightly coat with breadcrumbs and then place on baking sheet.
- Continue to coat all the eggplant slices in this manner.
- Spray the tops of the eggplant slices with more olive oil and then bake for 10 minutes.
- Turn, and continue to bake until the eggplant slices are golden brown on the outside but tender inside.
- Spoon some of the tomato sauce on each eggplant slice and spread, leaving outside edge bare.
- Sprinkle each slice liberally with the cheese.
- To brown, either pass the slices under the broiler for a minute or two, or place the tray in a very hot (450 degree F.) oven until lightly browned and bubbly.
- Serve warm.