Tuesday, May 20, 2014

baked eggplant

It's no secret 2014 has not been my year for blogging. 

I know I have fallen behind and the only thing keeping me going is the constant encouragement harassment of my friends and co-workers for recipes.  I guess it’s unfair to instagram these things and bring leftovers to work and not tell everyone how to make it….so I am getting back to it.

And first up from my hiatus is an easy, versatile and somewhat healthy weeknight fix. You can lighten this up by baking the eggplant instead of frying and using part (or full) skim mozzarella. Fresh tomatoes are a great addition in the summer and it reheats perfectly—great for leftovers!

Baked eggplant or eggplant stacks

3-4 japanese eggplants, rinsed and dried (you could also use 1 regular eggplant) slice into rounds about ¼ inch thick

3 cups plain breadcrumbs seasoned –see recipe below

2 eggs beaten in a shallow bowl with ½ cup milk

1 cup ricotta—I use full fat here, you can really taste the difference

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parley—use about a 1/2 tablespoon if using dried

1 cup freshly grated part-skim mozzarella—this is where I cut the calories, but freshly grate your own if you have the time—it makes a difference!

3 medium sized tomatoes, sliced or about a cup of tomato sauce

3 tbsp of olive oil for frying, halve it if baking the eggplant

1 egg

salt and pepper for seasoning

seasoning mix for breadcrumbs (you can buy it pre-seasoned but I prefer to make my own)

1 tbsp dried parsley

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tsp oregano

mix together in a shallow bowl with the bread crumbs—you can omit any of the spices you don’t like/have. They just add a bit more flavor to the mixture

if pan frying eggplant:

  • set up your breading station, and a plate lined with paper towels for draining your eggplant
  • pre-heat pan on stove top with 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat. once the oil starts to bubble a bit, lower to medium-low heat
  • preheat oven to 350
  • dredge the eggplant slices in the egg mixture until fully covered and then dip in the breadcrumbs. add more of either if needed
  • place the breaded eggplant slices in your frying pan or baking sheet
  • cook about 4-5 in a pan at a time, depending on size, so they cook evenly. flip once you see the edges start to brown and cook on second side for about 3-5 minutes. transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain

if baking eggplant:
  • preheat oven to 350
  • line your baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spray lightly with cooking spray
  • dredge the eggplant slices in the egg mixture until fully covered and then dip in the breadcrumbs. add more of either if needed
  • place the breaded eggplant slices on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. cook in the oven for about 10 minutes and check the bottoms for light browning—flip and brown on the other side, about 10 more minutes. timing may vary depending on oven

follow all remaining steps after eggplant is baked or fried
  • while eggplant is cooking, mix ¾ of your cheese with half the parsley, ricotta, the egg and salt and pepper to taste. stir until the mixture is well incorporated
  • spray a baking dish with cooking spray on all edges and line the bottom with eggplant slices, starting with your larger pieces. if you are doing an eggplant casserole, place them close together and cut pieces to fit/cover as much as possible. if making stacks, place them with some space between them
  • cover with a layer of the cheese mixture and then either tomato slices or sauce
  • repeat with eggplant, cheese mixture and tomato sauce about 2 more times. cover with the remaining mozzarella and parsley and let bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the cheese melts and is bubbling