Wednesday, April 08, 2009

garden-style eggplant parmesan

i love eggplant parmesan, but hadn't made it in years until the other night when i pulled out this recipe i had been saving to try. this is an easy, affordable, and relatively healthy meal; a great meat-free but hearty dish without being overly rich or greasy.

garden style eggplant parmesan

adapted from williams-sonoma.
*my changes are noted*

I N G R E D I E N T S :

For the sauce:
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 lb. fully ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely
chopped ( i used 1 28-oz can tomatoes, but it could have used another 14 oz or so can because i barely had enough sauce!)
1 Tbs. chopped fresh marjoram or oregano (i only had oregano but marjoram is wonderful)
Salt, to taste

4 or 5 small or 2 medium-large eggplant, cut
into slices 1/2 inch thick ( i used 2 eggplants and baked it in a slightly smaller baking dish since it was just for the two of us)
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
*1 egg
*1-2 Tbsp. water
*1-2 cups bread crumbs (i had panko on hand)
*italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
8 to 10 fresh thyme sprigs or 2 to 3 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves (i left these off but i'm sure they would be great)
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (instead of this cheese, i used the italian cheese blend in the bag)
1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into bits (i forgot this, but butter would have made it even better!)

D I R E C T I O N S :

To make the sauce, in a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes; do not allow to brown. Add the tomatoes and marjoram (*i used oregano because i didn't have marjoram), increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the tomatoes have cooked down to a sauce, 30 to 40 minutes. Taste and season with salt, if needed.

Preheat an oven to 450°F.

Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
-OR- to make with my changes:
*Dip slices of eggplant in egg wash and then in a mixture of breadcrumbs and a dash of italian seasoning. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet.*

Drizzle evenly with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt.Turn the slices over and drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Top with the thyme and place in the oven.

Cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn and cook until lightly browned on the other side, 5 to 6 minutes more. Place under a preheated broiler until a slightly golden crust forms on the tops of the slices, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and broil on the other side until golden, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F.

Arrange one-third of the eggplant slices in a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Top with layers of sauce, mozzarella, oregano and Parmigiano-Reggiano (or italian blend). Repeat the layers, beginning with the eggplant. Reserve a layer of eggplant, sauce and then Parmigiano-Reggiano (or italian blend) for the top. Dot evenly with the butter.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and carefully tip it, pressing on the surface with a spoon or spatula. If there seems to be too much juice, pour off the excess. Return to the oven and cook until the top is lightly browned and bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes. Scoop from the dish to serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Casual Outdoor Dining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Time-Life Books, 1998).

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