EGGPLANT PARMESAN

Last night, I decided to do a test run of eggplant parmesan that I’m going to be cooking next weekend. I’ve never really tried making any Italian dishes that didn’t involve pasta before, but I think that the dish came out as a resounding success.

Ingredients
~ 2 medium sized eggplants
~ 2 eggs, beaten
~ 2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
~ 24 oz. jar of pasta sauce (I used a jar of Newman’s Tomato & Basil Sauce)
~ 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
~ 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~ 1 tsp dried basil

Process
The first thing you need to do to the eggplant is to “sweat them out,” to remove some of the bitterness that might come from their juices. To do this, first peel the eggplant and then cut them into 1/4″ slices. Put them on an oven tray and sprinkle both sides with sea salt. Return them to the refrigerator and let them sit for about a half hour. Right before you take them out, start preheating the oven to 450 degrees. Take out the trays from the refrigerator and rinse each one with cold water, pressing with a paper towel to ensure that each slice is dry. The way that I constructed my eggplant parmesan was so that it had two layers of eggplant, so what you can do is to layer up the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish until it’s full, put those pieces aside, and then repeat the process. Once you have all the eggplant you need, then put those aside and you can throw the leftover eggplant pieces into the refrigerator.

Rinse off the oven tray that you were using for sweating the eggplants and then grease it lightly with some oil. Take your Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and put them into a Ziploc freezer bag, and beat two eggs in a separate bowl. Dip one eggplant slice into the egg and then into the Ziploc bag, which you can then shake to get a nice, even coating of breadcrumbs onto the eggplant. Repeat this for all the slices until they are all onto the oven tray. Throw them into the oven and bake for 7 minutes, after which you take them out and flip each slice over, and then bake again for another 7 minutes. Once the eggplant is done, we are ready to construct the eggplant parmesan itself. At this point, be sure to turn down the oven to 350 degrees.

Take out the same baking dish you used earlier and layer the bottom with the sauce, spreading it nice and even. Then, layer on top the eggplant pieces and then sprinkle a layer of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top of that. Add in a coating of basil on top of the cheese before starting back over by adding layers of the sauce, eggplant, cheese, and basil. With the fully constructed dish, throw that into the oven for about 35 minutes and you’ll be good to go. This isn’t an overly complicated dish to make, but it certainly is hearty and the flavors will really pop in your mouth.

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