NO BREADING – NO FRYING – DELICIOUS
Eggplant fruit always look so beautiful in the grocery store–deep, rich purple, almost black, the color of royalty and ‘please pay attention to me.’
But what do you do after that?
I taught at a private boarding school in Moab, Utah, in the 70s. Students and (mostly male) faculty grew a great deal of what we ate. In fact, my “buy from the store” budget was $10 per household member per month. Everything else had to be acquired from our commissary for free, or at a reduced price by being purchased in bulk (such as rolled oats; corn meal was 4 cents a pound).
The Commissary had gunny sacks full of cubed and dried eggplant. I added it to sloppy Joe mix, and chili, and god-knows-what-else. It bulked the food. It was filling. And almost tasteless. The girls living in my home accused me of putting it in cookies. I could have, because what flavor does eggplant have? Couldn’t chocolate chips overpower that?
Isn’t eggplant, almost like rice or pasta, a carrier of the sauce?
I succumbed recently to the seduction of the jewel-toned globe on the top shelf of the produce aisle. A smallish one. I try to include deeper colors in my diet for phytonutrients and blah, blah, blah.
Before I knew it, the little purple globe I carried home had developed a soft brown spot the size of a nickel–even in my crisper. I called my neighbor who cooks everything from scratch three times a day because of an allergy her husband has. (She’s a totally amazing cook and an even more amazing hostess!)
She emailed me a recipe for eggplant Parmesan that did not involve breading or frying. Not even peeling. I liked the result so well (it served 4 meals for one person) that I bought another small eggplant this weekend, with a promise to myself not to keep it in the fridge so long before preparing it.
Here’s how it goes:
- Wash the eggplant, because you are not going to peel it. The strongest nutrition is in the deepest color.
- Slice it. In my estimation, not more than 1/4 inch. Go 3/8 to 1/2 and it won’t be as good. The thinner the better.
- thinly sliced eggplant on the sheet and smear around so all slices get a thin coating of oil.
- Turn over and smear the other side with oil. You might need to add 1-2 tsp more oil.
- Place close to the broiler (4-5 inches?) and broil for 3-5 minutes until it starts to crisp.
- Turn and broil the other side, if your slices can take it.
- Meanwhile, you either open a jar of pasta sauce, or make some with tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt and pepper and Italian seasoning. Heat so you can taste it. (I always add crushed red pepper flakes, because I like food spicy.)
Depending upon the size of your eggplant, you’ll choose a small or medium or large baking dish. Spray with non-stick spray.
- cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce
- place a single layer of eggplant, sprinkle a bit of shredded cheese. a bit more sauce.
- another layer of eggplant, sauce, cheese.
- eggplant, sauce, and a generous topping of cheese.
Bake 10-30 minutes, depending upon the thickness of your slices. DO NOT COVER! (makes the dish too watery)
If this is a main dish rather than a side dish, meaning no meat is being served, increase the sauce quantity and add Morningstar Farms Burger Crumbles to give a more main dish texture and feel to the entree.
Tell us all in the comments below how you like this.