Vegnesday: Eggplant Parmesan

Vegnesday this week comes to you on a Friday with a mouth full of cheesy, tomatoey, eggplant goodness (with fewer pesky calories than lasagna).  Don’t be fooled by the long list of ingredients – this is really easy, it just takes patience since from start to finish it’s an almost two-hour recipe.  At the end of it, though, if you’re in a two-person household like mine, you’ve got lunch and dinner for the rest of the week (and the leftovers get even tastier with time).  Props to MyRecipes for the inspiration – I barely changed a thing.

It’s hard to make this look sexy in photos since it has less structure than lasagna (and is essentially a pile of vegetables and four cheeses swimming in pasta sauce), but I tried my darnedest.  Just trust me, you won’t regret making it, and even the pickiest eaters or non-lovers of vegetables are going to love it!  Making this also reminded me of the joys of panko (really fine Japanese bread crumbs, for the uninitiated), so I may be experimenting with some other recipes that incorporate it in the coming days and weeks.  I’m always open to ideas if others have favorite panko dishes…

Eggplant 1

Yields: 10 servings (serving size: 1 slice)
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

Eggplant:

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cups whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 lbs eggplant, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced or crushed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 (24-ounce) jar premium pasta sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) finely grated Asiago cheese

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • To make the eggplant, combine 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish. Combine the panko and 1/4 cup Parmesan in a second shallow dish.  Dip each slice of eggplant in the egg mixture; then dredge in the panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking off excess.  Place the eggplant slices 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray.

Eggplant 2

  • Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.  Leave the oven on at 375°.
  • Meanwhile, make the filling by combining all the filling ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Eggplant 3

  • To assemble the eggplant parmesan, spoon 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Layer half of the eggplant slices over the pasta sauce.  Sprinkle the eggplant layer with 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Eggplant 4

  • Top with about 3/4 cup pasta sauce, spread half of the ricotta mixture over the sauce, then top with a third of the mozzarella and 1/4 cup Asiago.  Repeat the layers once, ending with about 1 cup pasta sauce.  (The way it worked out for me, I repeated the eggplant, salt, ricotta mixture, cheese, and then used the rest of the sauce to top everything.)  Cover tightly with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 375° for 35 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and top with the remaining third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup Asiago. Bake for another 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts.  (If you like the top a little browned like me, switch the oven to broil for the last minute or two.)
  • Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then slice, serve, and enjoy.

Eggplant 6

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