Monday, December 7, 2009

Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

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Over Thanksgiving, we had some pretty awesome eggplant parmigiana courtesy of an Italian American family that spent the holiday with us. Ever since then, I've been eager to make the recipe myself. This is a recipe that I pieced together from our dinner conversation. It's not quite as good as the one that we had on Thanksgiving, but not too shabby for my first attempt.

You'll need:
  • 2 large eggplants, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 eggs, beaten with a dash of water added
  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 24-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of Italian dried herbs (a combination of basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and parsley)
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, sweat onions in olive oil until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add canned tomatoes, sugar, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer until the vegetables fall apart or about 1 to 2 hours.

If you find eggplant bitter, salt both sides and let sit for 20 minutes. Then blot with paper towels to remove the water and salt. If not, then don't bother.

Dredge eggplant slices in beaten egg and then flour and place on a baking sheet sprayed with canola oil or olive oil. Bake in 450 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until the eggplant slices are browned. Remove and let cool. If you want to be fancy pants about it, you can remove the skin, which makes a finer and more delicate product. I'm too lazy, so the skin stays on.

In a large oven-proof pan, add enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Layer eggplant slices to cover the pan. Add another layer of marinara sauce. Add the remaining eggplant slices. Top with sauce. Bake in 375 degree oven for another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with Parmesan cheese on top, if you want.

The result should be almost cake-like with very little liquid. The eggplant should be very tender and the tomatoes should be sweet and not acidic at all. Sure, it's a pretty labor intensive recipe, but it's very delicious and darn healthy since the eggplants are baked, not fried.

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