Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite dishes, and I try to create different variations to keep things interesting. This version I made into individual portions that would be great served as a side dish or main entree. In the photos I used small eggplants and served the eggplant “packages” as an appetizer. I prefer baking or grilling the eggplant rather than the traditional method of frying it to help cut down calories and fat. Choose firm fleshed, shiny eggplants for the best results.
This recipe is very easy, and as long as you use quality ingredients you can’t go wrong. I always make my own homemade bread crumbs which are far superior to the bland dry product you buy at the local grocery store. I never throw out my leftover day old bread and instead cut it into cubes and freeze it. When I need fresh bread crumbs, I simply take out the amount of frozen bread cubes I will need and throw them in my food processor. To season them, I’ll add a little sea salt, cracked black pepper, and a pinch of a couple of fresh herbs. Simply pulse until you reach the desired texture (sometimes thick and crumbly works great as a topping!). You can also add a little chile pepper, lemon rind, grated cheese, or even some toasted nuts. I love using pine nuts and almonds in my bread crumbs.
I used fresh, ripe plum tomatoes in this recipes because they are in abundance right now. If however I was making this dish in the winter when fresh, ripe tomatoes are not available, I would use my favorite sauce made from canned tomatoes. I also drizzled a little basil pesto oil on the plate but that as much for the photo as for the flavor and since I wanted to keep the recipe simple, I did not include that ingredient in the recipe. If however you wanted to dress up your dish a bit more for a special occasion, just mix a heaping tablespoon of freshly made basil pesto with olive oil until it is thin enough to drizzle. Once your eggplant has been plated and sauce added, simple drizzle a little of the oil on the plate.
Deborah Mele 2011
For The Eggplant:
- 2 Medium Eggplants, or 4 Small
- 6 Tablespoons Coarse Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Ball Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (Not Buffalo) (About 6 to 8 Ounces)
- 1 1/2 Cups Seasoned Homemade Bread Crumbs
- 3/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
For The Sauce:
- 8 Ripe Plum Tomatoes
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
- Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick slices, and place slices in a colander and sprinkle with a little of the salt.
- Place a plate that just covers the eggplant on top, and then weight it down with a heavy can or canister.
- Let the eggplant drain in the sink for about 45 minutes.
- Rinse with cool water, and pat the eggplant dry.
- While the eggplant is being purged of any bitterness, begin the sauce.
- To prepare the tomatoes, cut a slice off the core end.
- Squeeze the tomato gently over the sink to remove most of the seeds and juice.
- Do not worry if you do not remove them all.
- Chop the tomatoes into 1/2 inch dice.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, then add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two.
- Next add the chopped tomatoes, salt pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Cook over low heat until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Add the chopped basil and mix well, and set Aside
- Turn on the broiler in the oven on medium, and place the eggplant slices flat on a lightly greased baking sheet.
- Lightly brush the top of the eggplants with olive oil or use olive oil spray and then broil until lightly browned.
- Turn the eggplant, and brown the other side.
- Continue in this manner until all of the eggplant slices have been browned and are soft.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. F.
- In a large baking pan, first lightly grease the bottom.
- Place a layer of eggplant slices side by side without touching each other.
- Spoon a little sauce on each slice, and then cut the mozzarella cheese to fit each bottom slice.
- Choose another slice of equal size for each of the prepared eggplant slices in the pan, and cover each with this second slice.
- Mix together the grated parmesan cheese with the olive oil and homemade bread crumbs.
- Sprinkle the crumbs over the eggplant slices.
- Cover the casserole with foil, and bake the eggplant for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the bread crumb and cheese topping has browned.
- Place each eggplant "package" onto individual plates and spoon some of the sauce on top.
- Serve warm.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/2 eggplant
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 641 Total Fat: 36g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 26g Cholesterol: 22mg Sodium: 10153mg Carbohydrates: 69g Fiber: 10g Sugar: 14g Protein: 16g