This is my first post of the year so let's start on a delicious note! As I was working on these pictures earlier and organizing my previous posts, I couldn't help but glance at the very first recipes that I did (exactly!!) three years ago! It was heartwarming to think back to those early days yet little has changed on the blog even though so much has happened in life but here we are - already two weeks into another year.
I am not much of a new year's resolution kind of person, but there are a few I've made for this year that I'll share. The first one is to read the pile of books I have been collecting on my console table. The said collection includes my second round of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Bryan Peterson's Learning to See Creatively, Mimi Thorisson's French Country Cooking and my newest addition to the pile - The Art of Flavor. A variety of topics to explore and I'll probably share my thoughts with you as we go along!
The second resolution was to go sugar free (again!) for a couple months. I had made mention of this earlier last summer but didn't discuss it much because I didn't blog often due to preparations for the baby's coming taking up most of my time. But we liked the idea so much the first time that we extended it to involve others this time around and so far its been a good experience. I promise to have a more in depth post on this within the next few weeks!
Onto the recipe. The last thing I am interested in is touting how delicious and flavor-packed this "vegetarian" dish is because the word still conjures images of super green salads and Buddha bowls in my mind (nothing against them, they do look delicious!). With my love for food and trying new things, you'd think I'd be past that but while I am more than happy to try a "meatless" dish, using "vegetarian" will far from entice me.
As I try out new foods and cook them for myself at home, I am pretty excited to be discovering just how delicious meals can be without meat. So why the "vegetarian" topic? I grew up in a meat and potato culture where there are numerous variations of this combination that can be found at every holiday, wedding and any other family gathering in between. I can hardly recall any main dishes without meat in my childhood and maybe just a handful of side dishes so it feels refreshing to discover the "meatless" side of cooking, if you will. Speaking of, I just might make "meatless" a category in my recipe catalog. Seriously.
Last summer, my mother-in-law gave me a bunch of eggplants from her garden and since I've never prepared it before, I had to start somewhere. I remembered liking the one time I tried my husband's order of Eggplant Parmesan at an Italian restaurant in MN and so I thought I'd give it a hand. ATK had a simple recipe for two that I started with and liked so much that over time it became one of our many go-to dishes. I've tweaked it to fit our tastes and am sharing the results with you today. The eggplant itself, when cooked properly, takes on a creamy texture and is highly complimented by the crispy-fried-breaded-cheesy exterior. I love that the eggplant is also left as is for individual serving with the tomato topping instead of being baked casserole style as is traditional. This saves it from being drowned in tomato sauce and allows you to enjoy it for itself. The chunky, stewed tomato topping is a bright mouthful with a bit of a kick from the red pepper and refreshing herbaceous notes from the basil! It can even be used on it's own to top your favorite pasta or any other dish that calls for a tomato related topping.
Parmesan Eggplant with Stewed Tomatoes
- 2 large eggplants (about 3 lb)
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 oz parmesan cheese, finely grated + more for garnishing
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 12-16 slices of provolone cheese
- 1/3 cup of cooking oil
Stewed Tomatoes with eggplant
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 6-8 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 lb tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- The parmesan eggplant: after trimming off the ends, cut the eggplants crosswise into 1 inch disks. Choose 3-4 of the largest disks from each eggplant and set aside. Cube the remaining disks, place in a clean bowl and set aside for later.
- Set up a dipping station for the eggplants with flour in one bowl, eggs in another and combine the parmesan cheese and bread crumbs in the third. Lightly season each dish with salt and pepper.
- Place one eggplant disk at a time and cover with flour, tapping off any excess before dipping it into the egg and finally coating it with parmesan and bread crumbs. Place onto a sheet pan with a wire rack until you have coated all of the disks with flour, egg and parmesan cheese with crumbs.
- Heat your oven to 450 degrees F as well as heat a large skillet over medium heat with 1/3 cup of olive oil or your choice of cooking oil. Fry 2-3 eggplant disks at a time until golden brown on each side and set back onto baking sheet with wire rack. Repeat the process until all eggplants are fried.
- Transfer the baking sheet with the egg plants to the hot oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until tender. Add 1-2 slices of provolone cheese on top of each eggplant and bake for an additional 3 minutes.
- Stewed tomatoes with eggplant: meanwhile empty the skillet of any remaining oil and add to it the 3 tbsp of olive oil. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the cubed eggplant from earlier. Season with salt and pepper and cook until starting to brown.
- Add the pressed garlic cloves, pepper flakes and oregano. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant and then add the diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until the juice from the tomatoes has reduced and the sauce has thickened a bit.
- Season to taste and stir in the chopped basil.
- Serve the stewed tomatoes atop the parmesan eggplant with a side of pasta and garnish with grated parmesan cheese.