Friday, December 13, 2013

Crispy Eggplant Parmesan

Well, I finally had to face reality and go back to work on Wednesday after a five day weekend.  I love my job, but I have to say those snow days were amazing!

I am having a small-ish surgery on Monday and probably won't be up and about too much over Christmas break, so it was nice to have that time off to get some things done.  This surgery isn't anything bad - just a follow-up to one of the surgeries I had last summer.  I knew I would have to do it at some point, and next week seemed like the best time to schedule it since I am off the following two weeks for break.  Hopefully I will feel better than ever once it's behind me!

I haven't done much cooking over the last couple days because Jay has been working a lot of late nights.  Now that volleyball season is over, he takes on the roll of head athletic trainer for his school.  That means he has to be at every single game and practice for all sports, which is quite the time commitment. 

Tuesday night, I did manage to put together one of my favorite easy meals: Eggplant Parmesan.  For a long time, I did not know how to cook eggplant at all.  In fact, I remember making an Eggplant Parmesan dish for Jay when we were right out of college, and it was SO bad we had to throw it away and order a pizza.  Neither of us are picky eaters at all, and it is the only time in my life I can remember something I made being truly inedible. 

I finally figured out that the key is to salt the eggplant and let it sweat before cooking, and also to make sure you cook it long enough.  Eggplant that's not cooked all the way through is just not good, period.  This meal does take some time to prepare, but very little of it is hands-on.  Now that I finally know how to cook with eggplant, I make it all the time!  It is a delicious and healthy meat substitute. 
Crispy Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 3-4

1 eggplant, roughly peeled (I usually leave some skin on - it won't hurt you)
1 cup Italian flavored Panko bread crumbs (or add some Italian seasonings to the regular kind)
1/2 cup parmesan or Italian blend cheese
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes
Pasta and marinara sauce of your choice

1. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 to 3/4 inch rounds. 
2. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the slices and allow them to sit for approximately 30 minutes.  (I put mine in a colander and let them sweat over the sink.)
3. After 30 minutes, rinse off the slices and pat dry.  Go ahead and preheat the oven to 425. 
4. In a bowl, scramble the egg and season with salt and pepper.
5.  Mix bread crumbs and cheese together and place on a plate.
6.  Dip each eggplant slice in the egg, then the breadcrumb mixture. Place slices on a greased cookie sheet. (I line mine with foil to avoid a mess.)  If you have a large eggplant, you may need to add another egg or more breadcrumbs.
7. Sprinkle slices with red pepper flakes (if you want).
8.  Bake eggplant for 35-40 minutes at 425, flipping once, until brown and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. 
9. Serve over the pasta of your choice, and top with your favorite marinara sauce.  You can also top it all with additional Parmesan, fresh herbs, etc. 
10. Enjoy!
You may not hear from me for a few days, but I hope to be feeling great and back to blogging ASAP!  Have a great weekend!

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