Classic Italian Dishes – Parmigiana Eggplant
In Italian cooking there are a few different dishes you can make that are all very similar that involve marinara sauce and parmesan cheese smothering a breaded and fried something. This is usually chicken, veal, or in this case eggplant and although they are all put together basically the same all three have very different taste. Now today being Good Friday I thought it only appropriate to do the vegetarian one of the three so I have delicious fried eggplant smothered in sauce and cheese and baked up so the cheese is all hot and melting with each bite.
This is a meal that the kids may or may not like depending on their thoughts about eggplant mine are about half and half but for me and my husband this is a wonderful hot lunch when the kids are in school. It takes a bit of time to fry up all the eggplant prior to baking but the end result is well worth the effort. The combination of the crisp breading with the cheese and sauce is a taste trifecta.
I wonder what if you combined all three into one dish a stack of chicken, veal and eggplant, Mhh or am I breaking some cultural law in Italy? Well that is for a day when I have strange experiments day and not a day for when I am trying to get you a delicious dinner for a day when many go meatless. I know many will opt for fish but why not try a veggie alternative instead. It is ok even for the most diehard carnivore to skip meat for a meal or dare I say two, quiet the kids are home and I don’t want them to catch wind of that one or they’ll be having me for dinner, lol.
- 2 eggplants - Black Beauty works well, firm
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups Imported Pecorino Romano, grated
- 1¾ cups sourdough breadcrumbs, homemade
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 jar Francesco Rinaldi Traditional Pasta Sauce, No Salt Added
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil sprigs to garnish
- Olive oil for frying
- Place a heavy skillet on the stove, cast iron works well and add about a ¼ inch of the oil and heat over a medium high heat until the oil is well heated and pan is hot.
- Slice the eggplant into ¼ slices.
- Beat the eggs with the half-and-half until well blended.
- If you are making your own breadcrumbs leave the bread out for a few days before hand so it goes stale. Break it into chunks and place in a food processor with the chopping blade on and place cover on and pulse until the bread forms medium to fine breadcrumbs.
- Combine the breadcrumbs with the Italian seasoning and garlic and blend well with a fork.
- Using the fork dip one at a time a slice of eggplant into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs until well coated on both sides.
- Carefully lower the breaded eggplant into the hot skillet careful not to splash and fry them on both sides until golden brown remove to a plate with paper towels and keep warm. Work in small batches until all the eggplant is fried you may need to add more oil make sure it is hot before adding more eggplant.
- Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a 9 X 13 baking dish (stoneware works best) place a single layer of the fried eggplant.
- Cover with some of the sauce and top with a sprinkling of the cheese and repast this process until you have stacks about three to four eggplant high and top with a generous amount of the cheese.
- Cover the dish with foil and place in oven to bake in the preheated oven for twenty to thirty minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.
- Remove the cover in the last five minutes of baking to brown the cheese a bit. Remove from oven and allow cooling just a moment then transferring a stack of eggplant to a plate and top with a sprig of the fresh basil and fresh ground pepper.
If you love eggplant and like parmesan cheese then you are going to love this recipe. I am in Italy today well not really but in spirit I am. Yesterday was a Mexican day but Good Friday only seemed fitting to focus on Italian food and if you’re of the nature to avoid meat today then you’re in luck I have another of my recent vegetarian recipes so no need to worry. If in the future if you want you could take a bit of broken up Italian sausage and cook it up and blend it in with the sauce and then use it that way would be nice.