$14.00 for 4 people – Eggplant parm (MEDIUM – EASY)
So the girl you met at kickball tells you she’s a vegetarian, and you start to panic. Images of frozen veggie burgers and tofurkey float in your head… what have you gotten yourself into?
Don’t worry, nobody really likes eating fake soy meat. Let’s make some real food. And while we’re on the topic, let’s dispel some myths: it is true that cooking vegetarian is slightly more effort and more work, but it is TOTALLY WORTH IT. It is delicious, good for you, and you won’t feel like crap afterwards. This is great recipe to start with because it is so easy, and it keeps well so you can eat it for a couple of days afterwards.
This is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s New Moosewood Cookbook.
- Time required: 1.5 hours, but prep time is only 20 minutes; you spend more of the time hanging out while it cooks in the oven
- Equipment needed: 9 by 13 inch pan (like in the photo), plus additional baking tray you can put in the oven; knife and chopping board
- Special instructions: You must pick fresh eggplants, and cook it the same day, or day after you buy it. Otherwise, you will probably never make eggplant ever again. Here is what to look for:
- Eggplant should be heavy for its size
- Skin should be smooth, taut, and shiny. Tan patches, scars, or bruises on the skin are signs of decay underneath
- When you press the eggplant with your thumb, it should feel firm and bounce back
- 2 medium eggplants (6-7 inches long)
- 3/4 cups of milk (low fat is OK)
- 2 cups fine bread crumbs – I usually just buy panko from the grocery store, which you can keep in your pantry for a long time
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme (optional)
- 36 oz of nice tomato sauce – I highly recommend buying the nice kind, like Mario Batali’s marinara. Two 24-oz glass jars are under $10 at Costco
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese (you can use up to 16 oz depending on how much you like cheese), sliced
- 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking tray and your 9×13 inch pan (lightly oil = just put about a teaspoon of olive oil and spread it around)
2. Cut eggplants into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Do not cut eggplant any thicker than this, otherwise it may end up undercooked and tough!
3. Place the milk in a shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs / panko with basil, oregano, and thyme on a plate (Note: the basil is definitely required, and oregano is nice to have. Thyme is for extra credit)
4. Dip the eggplant slices in the milk, coat with the breadcrumb mixture, and place in a single layer on the baking tray and 9×13 inch pan. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until tender but definitely before bread crumbs starts to burn. While it cooks, you can slice the cheese or watch Ultimate Fighting on TV
5. Remove from the oven, and put all of the eggplant on the baking tray. We will be using the 9×13 inch tray to build our masterpiece. Put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the tray, then add a layer of eggplant slices, then more sauce, then the mozzarella cheese, then some more eggplant, the more sauce, until you’ve used up everything. Put the freshly grated parmesan cheese on the top
6. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until it starts to get bubbly around the edges. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
7. Serve with salad and some crusty bread on the side, and collect your compliments. This is a good one to eat with friends (otherwise you will be eating it for 4 days afterwards, haha)
Please follow on Twitter @andybandyman20, or leave comments below. Thanks for reading!