I surprised myself with this one; oh man it was soo good!
I’m leaning toward going back to vegetarianism; not so much becoming full on vegetarian, but at least having maybe 1-2 meals per week be veggie starting out, and maybe bring that number up to 3-4 or maybe even 5. Anyway, if you can believe, the night I made this I had a craving for something meatless.
I also wanted to make something that Jen would absolutely love because she was having a rough day. Then I remembered one of the guys at work explaining to me a very simplified method of making eggplant parmesan. While I didn’t really recall the details of what he described, I kept simplicity in mind when I just sort of threw this recipe together in my head. Another thing too, my last eggplant parmesan left something to be desired.
Off to the Trader Joes!
Trader Joes is my new favorite grocery store (sorry, Earthfare). I find them to have good quality food at reasonable prices. Although Trader Joe’s Customer Updates page answers many questions about my concerns for products derived from GMO, growth hormones, and antibiotics found in meats and dairy I will still always be sure to check labels.
From the Trader Joe’s website:
We have yet to take the approach of labeling products as non-GMO because there are no clear guidelines from the US governmental agencies covering food and beverage labeling. Instead of waiting for such guidelines to be put into effect and based upon customer feedback, we took a more holistic approach and made the no GMO ingredients position part of what the Trader Joe’s label encompasses.
I would like to trust that Trader Joe’s has good intentions in mind in selling pure and healthy products, but then this morning I read an article from Food Safety News about how honey is so overprocessed that it can no longer technically be called honey and these processes can also be used to disguise the origin of the food. But then I read another article from NPR which basically verifies all of FSN’s claims but says you should just relax and eat the damned “honey” because even though our world governments have banned specific imports they import tons of it anyway so it’s perfectly safe.
How do you trust products and companies anymore when even the labels are deceptive? Do you trust Trader Joes?
The eggplant Parm was a little time consuming to make, but well worth it. I used two eggplants sliced very thin and took about twenty minutes to salt them and drain them. During that twenty minutes I made the marinara and prepared my other ingredients. I was surprised at the substantial amount of brownish liquid that squeezed out of the eggplant in such a short time.
I took each eggplant slice and dredged it in flour, then egg, then panko breadcrumbs. I then fried each piece in some oil and let them drain and cool on a rack. This was the most time consuming part of preparing this dish. I think next time I might try slicing the eggplants the long way rather than making rounds.
To make the dish, I put a very shallow layer of marinara on the bottom of my lassagna pan and then proceeded to make a layer of eggplant rounds. Next came a small layer of crumbled mozzarella cheese (a 16 oz ball I ran through the food processor) and some chiffonaded fresh basil leaves. More eggplant, mozz, basil, eggplant, mozz, basil – ware it out! At the very top I put a nice layer of grated Parmesan. The pic above is the eggplant parmesan before going into the oven.
I baked this for about 30 minutes at 350. To serve I just put about 3-4 eggplant slices on a plate and topped with marinara. I think by only layering dry ingredients the panko crust stayed mostly crisp. The eggplant was cooked perfectly – not too firm and not mushy either. I think it was the basil that really set the dish off though. This absolutely fed my craving. It was filling, yet light at the same time and no meat. I think the only thing I would change next time is perhaps using only one eggplant for a smaller dish, and slicing the eggplant lengthwise to shorten the preparation time and perhaps use less oil when frying. I might try using my wok for frying the eggplant next time, too, for easier clean up and for better temperature regulation.