This summer I met a young man, who impressed me with his burn and passion for all things culinary. Despite his young age of 11, he was excited about food, the different methods to prepare it, different types of serving of a meal, and even talked about working on his presentation skills. LOVED. IT. His fire was contagious, and I most likely had a really goofy smile on my face every time I talked with him. But this young man wasn't just all the talk, he already knew his way around the kitchen, and during the time we spent together, he prepared (with little adult supervision, little is the key word) three meals for seven people. And not just any meals, the meals were tasty! I love that he had the desire, and possibility, to work in the kitchen. My mom allowed me to make a mess in her kitchen, and it had a huge impact on me. So lets keep the kitchen doors open, take the time to guide them, and give them the possibility to make the mess, and to fall in love with food, the right and healthy way. One of the dishes the young man prepared, was Eggplant Parmesan. I admit, I have been thinking about it every now and then since that day in August, so I decided to share my favorite recipe of Eggplant Parmesan with you. I don't do it in a casserole type of dish, even though you could add much more cheese that way. I rather layer the baked eggplant wheels, with fresh Mozzarella and a bit more shredded Parmesan in-between. I have already shared with you the marinara recipe, so just click here to get it. It might look like it is a lot of work for a dish, but really, not only is it worth it, but with good planning, it will all go rather smoothly.
I had some previously made marinara sauce in the freezer, so I just took it to defrost in the fridge the night before, and heated it up, when needed. So the most time consuming effort was drying the eggplants, because you know they are like a sponge and suck all the oil into them. I cut them in the morning, salted both sides of them, and set them on a rack with paper towels underneath to gather the moisture (you can use just paper towels if you want to). The salt will speed up the process nicely, as well. If you don't do it in the morning, it takes about two hours in real time. So now, all that is required for the meal to be prepared, is just putting the dish together. To avoid the excess of oil, I baked the eggplant in the oven. And while they were in the oven, I heated up the sauce, and prepared some fresh salad to go with it. And oh my, it was so lovely! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and please, get the family, if possible, involved, and make the food preparation into a fun family time! ~ Cheers!
2 1/4 lbs (about 2 large) eggplants
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten (more if needed)
1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
Preheat the oven to 220 C / 425°F. Combine 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and place in a shallow bowl or rimmed dish. Set up your station so that you have flour in one shallow bowl, beaten eggs in another bowl, and the breadcrumb cheese mixture in another, in that order.
Spread a tablespoon of olive oil each over the bottom of two rimmed baking sheet pans. Pat dry the eggplant slices with paper towels. Working one at a time dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour, then dip in the beaten eggs, and then dredge in the breadcrumb Parmesan cheese mixture. Place on oiled sheet pan. Place breaded prepared eggplant slices in the oven. Cook for 18 to 20 minutes, turning the slices over at the half-way point, until they are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and place the eggplant wheels into towers, so that there's a slice of Mozzarella and a little Parmesan in-between every layer, three wheels per tower. Set back in the oven for just 2-3 minutes, while spooning the hot sauce into the serving plates. Set the eggplant Parmesan towers on top of the sauce, and serve and enjoy