Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan: Reinvented

When the first round of firm, violet eggplants start to roll off the farm here in the northeast, it's usually in those weeks of late August and early September when the thermometer and the calendar disagree about when summer ends and fall begins. Since the mercury refuses to fall, the heaviness of deep fried eggplant covered in warm marinara sauce forced us to rethink this classic dish.  Also, we didn't have marinara sauce or a deep fryer. What we did have was a lot of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic... the perfect combination for bruschetta. By adding that to lightly-fried eggplant we did our best to reinvent this classic dish.  The result was pan-seared slices of eggplants covered with warm, fresh bruschetta that were light and delicious.  This surprising dish turned out to be a fantastic end-of-summer meal that we've already had three times since its inception.  

As always, this type of Johnny-on-the-spot kitchen creativity came from Meghan.  At this time of year, bruschetta practically makes itself.  With dinner for two in mind, all you need are:
  • 2 ripe diced tomatoes (a handful of cherry tomatoes will also work)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves finely diced (adjusted based on your garlic lust-level)
  • 1/4 cup loosly chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients and leave it aside so the flavors have time to develop.  Next up is the eggplant.  We fried these on the stove-top, a lazy-man's deep fryer.  What you lose in the the crispness of breaded and fried slices of eggplant you more than make up for in the dish's lightness and healthiness.  
  • 1 eggplant 1/4"-1/2" slices
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 egg (mixed with a splash of water/milk)
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • ~4oz mozzarella cheese (enough to partially cover each slice of eggplant)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Heat up about a tbsp or two of oil in frying pan over medium-high heat and preheat the oven to 400F.  Batter the eggplant by coating it with flour, then egg, and then bread crumbs.  Once the oil is hot add a few slices of eggplant and fry for about 2-3 minutes per side.  Place the fried eggplant in a glass baking dish and cover the slices with mozzarella cheese.  Once all the eggplant has been fried, place the baking dish in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the dish from the oven, cover the eggplant with the bruschetta, and place the dish back in the oven for another 5-7 minutes (just enough to heat up the bruschetta a little).  Serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

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