I'll never forget the first time I made eggplant Parmesan. I was so proud of the new meal I had made for the kids. They asked several times what egg plant actually was. They looked at it like it was going to bite them back. They were very cautious when they picked up their fork and knife. Then they tasted it like they were bravely swallowing a cyanide pill. And then the look of relief that it was not horrible was replaced with joy and enthusiasm. They LOVED it. One of the kids wanted to know what I did to the egg plant to make it taste good. It was a real sell for them to believe that it was just good!
Egg plant is something that we cannot get enough of now. The kids keep a close eye on the garden so they can let me know the moment the egg plant is ready to be picked. Simply peeling, dicing and sauteing it in olive oil is a yummy side dish that we all love. Grilling it is even better.
But, we are here to talk about the Willow Cottage version of egg plant parmigiana. I add a garlic loaded creamed spinach and the wow factor is amazing. I hope you like this as much as we do. The board of ingredients is simple ingredients. There is a measuring cup of Willow Cottage Tomato Sauce. You can use the link to find the recipe. You will not need the turkey meatballs for this recipe though. You can either not make them or freeze them for another day. Also the creamed spinach recipe will be posted later this month, but I do have a confession to make. It's not my recipe. It's from Pioneer Woman. Here is her recipe. All I did was add a little extra garlic.
To start, wash your eggplants and then cut the top and bottom off.
Peel the eggplant. They have rather tough skins. If you were using tender baby eggplants, then you can get away with the skin still on. But it is better to be safe than sorry. I just remove them.
Next slice them into 1/2 inch slices and lay them out on your cutting board.
I am never in favor of substituting salt for flavor, but in this case you need to use a fair amount of salt. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the eggplant slices. You need the salt to draw out some of the liquid in the eggplant. Trust me.
Put the slices in a colander and set them aside while you get the oil and breading stations ready to go. Put a plate or a bowl under the colander. You will be surprised how much liquid will seep out in just a few minutes.
Pour about one inch of canola oil into a pan. If you have a low shallow pan, that would be prefect. Keep in mind that the oil will bubble up when the eggplant is added. Oil that overflows will catch on fire and you do not want that. You want your oil to be heated to 350° for the best frying results. I do not have a fancy fryer, but I have found that on my stove a medium low to medium heat keeps my oil at the perfect temperature.
I am using cheap cake pans for my breading containers, but you can use anything that is low and shallow. In one container you need the flour as well as a generous pinch of salt and a good amount of pepper. You are seasoning the flour which needs lots of help to taste good.
The next pie plate gets a couple of eggs. Just mix them up with a fork to break down the membranes a bit. I might have used three eggs here. I am not sure. I guess I will have to make this again so I can let you know for sure. If you start with two eggs and run out of egg, add another egg and mix it up.
I did not have Italian seasoned breadcrumbs on hand. In fact, I did not have any bread crumbs on hand. So I threw four slices of bread into the food processor and whizzed them up. I put them on a cookie sheet and baked them in a 350° oven until they are golden brown. Take them out occasionally and stir them up. Add about a tablespoon of Italian herbs to them. Also, add a half cup of FRESHLY grated parmigiana reggiano cheese. This is very important. DO NOT use the pre-shredded kind you can buy in the store. It is too heavy for this recipe.
I use a micro plain to grate my cheese and works very well. I recommend this kitchen gadget for so many tasks in the kitchen. :-)
This is a close up of my bread crumb mixture.
Here is the breading station. I have a confession to make. I forgot to photograph the breading process. I guess I will have to make this again so I can photograph this very important step. I will walk you though it for now.
- First take a slice of eggplant. It will be wet. That's okay. Dip it in the flour and coat both sides and the edges of the eggplant. Make sure every bit of the eggplant is covered. Tap off the extra flour so the excess falls back into the pan.
- Next dip the eggplant in the beaten egg. Make sure you coat every bit of the eggplant in the egg. Pick the eggplant up and let the excess drain off back into the pan.
- Finally move the eggplant into the breadcrumb mixture. Cover every bit of the eggplant with the crumb mixture. Let the excess crumbs fall off back into the pan. Set the coated eggplant aside and repeat until all the slices are coated.
Now that your oil is heated properly and the eggplant is coated we are ready to start cooking. Carefully slide a few pieces of eggplant into the oil. Don't crowd your pan. Let them cook for a few minutes until the bottom side is golden brown. Carefully flip them over so the other side can cook to a golden brown as well.
After all the slices are cooked and they are a beautiful golden brown put them on a cookie sheet.
Drain a couple cups of mozzarella pearls on a paper towel. You are not allowed to make the eggplant soggy with wet cheese!
Put some cheese on each slice of eggplant.
Throw it into a 350° oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts.
Now it is time to put it all together. I grabbed a handful of basil leaves, I shaved some parmigiana reggiano, heated up the tomato sauce as well as the creamed spinach.
Now put a little puddle of tomato sauce on one side of the plate. Put the creamed spinach on the other side of the plate. Add a slice of eggplant.
Add some basil leaves and a shard of the parmigiana.
Then add another slice of eggplant and repeat the basil and parmigiana.
I am ready to eat this right through the computer screen. Enjoy!
Stacked Eggplant Parmigiana
Ingredients:2 Pounds Eggplant
1 Cup Flour
2 Cups Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Divided
2 Cups Fresh Mozzarella Pearls
Salt and Pepper
8-7 Medium Fresh Basil Leaves
3 Cups Willow Cottage Tomato Sauce
2 Cups Creamed Spinach
Canola Oil for Frying - The amount will depend on the pan you are using
Directions:1. Wash and peel the eggplants. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle both sides with salt and let rest in a colander for 10 minutes.
2. Begin heating the canola oil. The amount of oil you use will depend on the pan you are using. You want about one inch of oil in the bottom of your pan heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Prepare a breading station while the eggplant is resting. You will need three low flat containers. In the first add the flour and season with salt and pepper. In the second, add beaten egg. In the third, add the seasoned bread crumbs and 1/2 cup parmigiana cheese.
4. Select a slice of eggplant and coat it with the seasoned flour. Shake off any access flour. Next dip the eggplant into the beaten egg. Make sure to cover every bit of the eggplant with the egg. Finally dip it into the seasoned bread crumbs. Set the coated eggplant aside and continue coating the rest of the eggplant.
5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
6. When your oil is up to temperature, begin cooking the eggplant a few at a time. Do not crowd the pan. Too much eggplant in the pan will bring the temperature of the oil down and that will make your eggplant soggy and greasy. After a the eggplant gets golden brown flip it over to cook the other side. Remove the cooked eggplant and put it on a sheet of paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
7. When the eggplant is cooked transfer the slices to a cookie sheet. Top the eggplant with the fresh mozzarella pearls. Bake the eggplant in the oven for about five minutes or until the cheese is melted.
8. To serve, put a scoop of tomato sauce on one side of a plate or wide shallow bowl. Add a scoop of creamed spinach on the other side of the plate. Add a slice of eggplant to the tomato sauce. Top the eggplant with a basil leaf and a sprinkle of parmigiana cheese. Add two more sliced of eggplant with basil and cheese topping each slice. Sprinkle a couple of mozzarella pearls in the sauce along the side of the eggplant. Serve immediately. Enjoy. Serves 6.
For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.
I am linking up with Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.