My P.S. is getting pretty good at surprising me with food that is so stunningly good that I must post it. I casually left a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan up on the kitchen computer on his day off, and he took my hint and ran with it. He’d brought home 2 large eggplant (one wasn’t enough?) and had mentioned wanting to make or even grill eggplant for dinner. I simply found a recipe I wanted to make and left it open.
I came home to eggplant parmesan, grilled marinated chicken, and pasta. I think the pasta was overkill; just the parm and chicken were super filling. We were almost oinking by the time we finished our meals. But the parm recipe was pictured on the Thoughtful Vegetarian’s site next to pasta, so he made that also. My P.S. is a very literal cook. I’ve mentioned before that he doesn’t stick his spatula much outside the box when following a recipe.
Grilling the chicken was second nature to him; he mastered that years ago but only recently added marinades and rubs and such to his chicken grilling skills. The chicken was wonderfully moist and the skin was darkened and caramelized just right.
The angel hair pasta was another talent he’s developed. He knows how to make a simple basil tomato sauce and after the pasta reaches al dente, he swirls it in the sauce to absorb the flavors before twisting it on our plates to serve it. That was also just right.
It was the eggplant parmesan that was out of this WORLD! He’d followed the recipe with just a few necessary adjustments. He only used ¾ of one eggplant, which was good because the second one had already gotten mushy. That had a very short shelf life! He even peeled the eggplant which I don’t usually do. Many recipes are divided on the issue; I usually think the peel is soft enough when cooked. But to each cook their choice.
P.S. said he dipped the slices in flour, then the egg wash, then the panko crumbs. He said he had to use almost twice the amount of crumbs called for in the recipe. I think that was due to his using panko crumbs, not regular bread crumbs. But the final texture of the dish wasn’t overly bready, so it was fine. I’ll put both measurements in the recipe so you can choose your crumbs.
My P.S. also used about twice the amount of sauce for the layers. He was creative and looked up a marinara sauce recipe on the Food Network site (didn’t I tell you he always goes there?) and used Tyler Florence’s recipe. It was very good, he chose well. It was also just the right amount for this recipe.
The final dish, when served, was cookbook photo beautiful. The picture makes me crave it all over again. The taste was so rich and perfectly cooked. It wasn’t runny or watery as I sometimes get with a parm recipe. It was just moist enough but also dry enough to stick together when sliced into with a fork. Often a recipe will call for laying out the eggplant slices and salting them, then leaving them for a period of time to draw out the moisture. Yet this recipe was perfect without that step.
I’m so impressed with the dish I almost wish I’d made it so I could be proud of it. But I am proud of my P.S. (Parm-making Spouse) for his successful dish. This will be our new go-to recipe. It was simple and relatively fast to assemble, he reported. Now I need to figure out what I’m going to leave open on the kitchen computer for his next day off. Something with cherries maybe… we have a lot of pounds of them! We accidentally both picked more up the other day. Oh oh.
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons skim milk
3/4 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs (or 1+ cups of Italian seasoned panko crumbs)
⅓ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1 eggplant (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
Olive oil for frying (about ⅓ cup)
Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce (see recipe below)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
In a shallow bowl, stir together flour and salt. In another shallow bowl beat together eggs and 2 tablespoons milk. In a third shallow bowl, stir together bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Dip eggplant slices into flour mixture to coat. Dip the slices into egg mixture, then coat both sides with crumb mixture.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant slices; cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Add more oil as necessary during cooking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish (he used a 9-inch) with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of eggplant followed by more sauce. Repeat until eggplant is used up, ending with the last of the sauce. Top with cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbling. Top with basil. Serve immediately.
Tyler Florence’s Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano, dried
1 teaspoons basil, dried
1 whole bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Over medium heat, heat oil in a large pot until hot. Add onion and garlic, saute for 3 to 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes, stir to mingle the flavors. Add in the herbs and bay leaves. Sprinkle in sugar, salt and pepper. Lower the heat and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally.