Ooooh boy, Nigella Lawson stepped in it recently didn’t she? I mean, how dare she suggest that you use cream in Carbonara?! The food police had a field day and not in a good way. The internet is crazy people, flat out crazy. Not that I’m anywhere near Nigella’s celebrity, but I have to tell you this Easy Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe I’m about to share goes a little rogue. Purists beware.
Before I get to the real controversial stuff though, here’s why I love this Easy Eggplant Parmigiana. I’ve been on a bit of a kick lately looking for meatless meals. Living with two teen girls who declare I’m killing the planet with every steak I cook is pushing me to the brink. Damn kids and their quest for living socially responsible lives. Sheesh. The problem for my husband and I though is that vegetables leave us a little peckish; as in we’re raiding the fridge an hour after most meatless meals. Eggplant is wonderfully filling though and delicious. Simply bake and serve with garlic bread and I have to undo the top button of my jeans afterwards. Delish!
Easy Eggplant Parmigiana
You’re going to need two large eggplants for this recipe, cut into 1/2 inch rounds. Layer the eggplant slices in a colander and generously salt each layer. Place something heavy on top like a weighted pot or frying pan. I put water in a medium saucepan and placed on top. Leave your eggplant sit for 30 minutes then rinse quickly with cold water and pat dry slices.
The reason for this is to allow your eggplant to sweat it out. My mother thinks this is a foolish step and isn’t necessary. I’m going to stubbornly maintain you should do this step to remove some of the bitterness that eggplant has. If you’re with my mother on this, move on to the next step after slicing your eggplant.
Set up a production line to bread your eggplant slices. In one shallow dish whisk three eggs together, in a shallow dish beside it pour 1 1/2 cups of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs like Pastene.
Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat, covering the bottom with a generous layer of olive oil. Dip eggplant in egg mixture, then bread crumbs and fry in pan. This should take about 2 minutes per side.
In a large 9 x 13 baking dish, pour a 1/3 of a jar of Italian Passata (720 ml) or strained tomatoes on the bottom, then add first layer of fried eggplant slices. Add another 1/3 of sauce and 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese.
Repeat with remaining layer of eggplant slices. And THIS is where I go a little off the rails people. You’re going to top this tasty creation with a combination of shredded Parmesan, grated Grana Padano and wait for it……shredded Gruyère cheese! That’s right, Swiss cheese on a Italian dish. *clutches pearls*
Almost every recipe I’ve seen for Eggplant Parmigiana calls for Mozzarella and frankly, I find Mozzarella a bit of a snooze on the cheese front. Gruyère on the other hand has a distinct flavour and is the perfect melting cheese.
Preheat your oven to 350F and bake for 30 minutes. To brown up cheese on top, place under broiler for the last couple of minutes of cooking time. If you want to make this ahead of time, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate before baking, up to one day ahead of time. For an easy recipe for leftovers, toss with pasta the next day!