Friday, June 25, 2010
Main Course: Eggplant Parmigiana and Spaghetti
Eggplant Parmesan is my boyfriend's favorite meal. Over the last Christmas his grandma had made eggplant Parmesan, and he said it was his favorite. I was excited to try it out and couldn't believe how good it was! Nothing like a home cooked meal especially when it made by grandma. Her eggplant was very different from the usual eggplant fare you will eat. When he through out the idea he'd want me to make eggplant Parmesan I warned him it won't be like grandmas so don't compare. LOL. I did my own spin on the eggplant Parmesan like usual and it turned out to be really good. I made sure to make it extra special for my boyfriend. Eggplant Parmesan is definitely a process if you want to make it the right way. I spent almost 3 hours draining the liquid out of my eggplant. You do this by setting slices in a colander and sprinkling with sea salt. Every 15 or so minutes I would press more liquid out by pushing it against the colander and shaking it around. Once this process is complete, rinse the eggplant off with water and let set to dry.
Usually if I make eggplant for myself I skip this step and just get to cooking! In Italian cooking the sauce is very important. I've made many red sauces, but mine aren't the kind I will spend all day cooking. Which I need to start practicing FYI. If you remember a few months ago I discovered the best jarred marinara sauce EVER! I was not ashamed to use this at all because it honestly taste like a sauce that been cooking all day. Definitely saved me a lot of time in the kitchen. I took a little help from my new favorite cookbook, The Joy of Cooking to help guide me. This cookbook is very helpful and I'm starting to use it for everything. Definitely one of the best gifts someone could ever give me. Cooking I rarely measure out ingredients. My goal when I cook for my boyfriend is to basically cook for an army. LOL. I want to make sure there is plenty to eat, and leftovers are always a bonus. So my estimates may sound like big numbers but you can cut the recipe in half or estimate your own measurements as well. It's only cooking!!
Eggplant Parmigiana #2 (Adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
4-5 eggplants, sliced slightly thick (My eggplants varied in size, some were large and some quite small.)
3 large eggs
Salt and pepper
Italian style panko bread crumbs (Fresh bread crumbs would be amazing!)
Favorite red sauce (Make sure to make a lot.)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Grated parmesan cheese
Baking the eggplant: You can either fry or bake the eggplant. I baked my eggplant with an oven preheated at425 degrees and 2 baking sheets with a healthy coating of olive oil to crisp up the eggplant. Once you have drained all water from the eggplant (you could skip that draining process if you don't have time) it is time to get the breading station ready. I don't normally measure out my flour or bread crumbs because when I do I always end up needing more anyways. For the breading station in this order season the flour with salt a pepper, whisk the eggs with a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and the seasoned Italian bread crumbs all in breading dishes. First, dredge the eggplant into the flour, and shake off the excess flour. Next dip into the egg mixture and letting excess egg drip off. Then finally into the bread crumbs making sure to coat the entire surface of your eggplant slices. Line up onto the pre-olive oiled baking sheets. Bake the eggplant for at least 30 minutes or until both sides are crisped up and lightly brown. At this time you will want to start boiling water in a large pot for the spaghetti. Season the water with salt and bring to a boil. Once water boil add spaghetti and cooked till al dente. About 7-8 minutes depending on the pasta.
Preparing the eggplant parmigiana: While the eggplant is baking I like to get my sauce heated up, and make sure my cheeses are ready for layering. I used a huge lasagna pan to bake my eggplant up. You can use a casserole dish if you prefer it layered instead. I opted to have the slices to be lightly layer, and for a nice presentation. When the eggplant has cooled off from the oven it it time to layer. I always start with sauce on the bottom, then eggplant, cheese and repeat. Pop back into the oven on the top rack till the cheese melts and lightly browns. I changed the oven setting to 450 degrees. Garnish with basil and serve along side spaghetti. I also had roasted cauliflower and cheesy garlic bread as additional sides!