Friday, June 11, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan (Baked Eggplant, not Fried!)

I had a craving for Italian food, but I have been trying to cut back on the amount of pasta I eat lately, considering that is pretty much all I had time to make during the school year! I found an awesome recipe for Eggplant Parmesan on the best college friendly food blog ever, Budget Bytes. She lists out the prices of all of the ingredients in her recipes and keeps most of her recipes priced under $10.00. This recipe takes a bit longer than others I have on my blog, but it is mostly just waiting on the dish to bake, so make sure you leave enough time to prepare and wait!

Recipe adapted from 
Yields enough for 6
2 medium (2 lbs.) eggplant
1 tbsp salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
  1/2 cup grated parmesan
3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Non-stick spray (as needed)
Fresh chopped parsley (optional)

STEP 1: Wash the eggplant and slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Place it in a colander, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of salt, toss to coat and let sit for about 45 minutes. The salt will draw out moisture from the eggplant allowing for more crisp slices once breaded and baked. I placed the eggplant a single layer and then put a paper towel on top, another layer of eggplant, another paper towel, etc., etc. After 45 minutes, give the colander a good shake to let extra water drip out the bottom (it will look brown).

STEP 2: Press the eggplant slices between a few sheets of paper towel (or a clean, lint-free cloth) to absorb excess water. Place the slices in a ziplock bag with 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour. Toss the bag so that the slices become coated with the flour.

STEP 3: Prepare the second two steps in the breading process as follows. Lightly beat three eggs in a bowl until they become a fairly even consistency. Pour the Italian bread crumbs into a separate bowl. Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg (turning to coat both sides) then into the bread crumbs (coating each side again). Place the breaded slices on a plate or baking sheet until all slices have been breaded.

STEP 4: Position your oven racks on the top third and bottom third of the oven so that they have at least 6 inches between them for air to flow. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place two baking sheets in the oven (one on each rack) as it preheats so they will be preheated as well (this helps with crisping).

STEP 6: Once all of your eggplant slices are breaded and the oven/baking sheets are preheated, carefully remove the baking sheets and coat them with non-stick spray. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the sheets and spray the tops of them with another coat of non-stick spray. Place the sheets back in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Switch the position of the baking sheets half way through (the top rack is often hotter and browns faster than the bottom).

STEP 7: After the slices have baked, reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the dish. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer over the marinara. Top with a second cup of marinara and one cup of mozzarella. Arrange the rest of the eggplant slices over top and then cover with a third cup of marinara and a second cup of mozarella, etc., etc.

STEP 8: Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly. (Check it every now and then, my cheese ended up a bit too brown, as you can tell from the picture at the top of this post!) Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
I won't be cooking much this weekend as it is my friend's birthday weekend, so we are going out to eat! I am planning on cooking  Jamaican Jerk Chicken Bowls on Sunday or Monday for my roommates though, so check back to see the pictures and recipe! :)

xox, Jen

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