Sunday, 7 January 2007

Eggplant Parmesan- Version 1 ( No Fry Method)

Eggplant Parmesan was something totally new to me until a few years ago. As a kid, I used to detest eggplant, I mean really detest it. I'd hide the eggplant pieces under my plate, feed them to my brother when mumma wasn't looking or swallow them whole with gulps of water- I'd do anything not to eat it.... Never would I have thought that this would become one of my favorite veggies in my later years. I remember trying this on the suggestion of my husband K when he took me to 'The Olive Garden' after we got married. I tried it, and I was hooked(but then again, I am hooked on everything Italian)...... Now, I have this habit of recreating the food I have eaten in restaurants at home..some come out wonderful and some, well...lets just leave it to your imagination. So, anyway, I tried this at home for the very first time by making the batter first, *bhajiya style* and deep frying the eggplant rounds in it and then dousing the whole thing in tomato sauce. It was a huge artery clogging success! Another hit recipe for my collection! Yay!

This time, I opted for something different and totally healthy. I decided I would coat the eggplant rounds in breadcrumbs and bake them instead of deep frying them. I was pleasantly surprised by the results....not only is this healthier...but tastier as well. Try it for yourself sometime and see! Here's what you need.

Ingredients: 2 large fresh eggplants cut into thick rounds, 2 cups breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, half cup of milk.
For the sauce: 3 cans Italian style tomatoes, 1 large onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp Oregano, 1 bunch fresh Basil, salt, sugar, black pepper to taste, Olive oil.

First make the sauce..I always make the sauce at home because it is so much tastier than the store bought one. Chop the onions and garlic finely. Heat some Olive oil in a deep pot and add the onions and garlic. Add the cans of tomatoes and crush them with the back of the ladle. Stir the seasonings into the sauce - except for the Fresh basil, add that towards the end for the most flavor. Give the sauce a good whirl with a hand held blender.... and let this simmer on medium to low heat for a good 40-45 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Okay, now for the eggplants...cut them into rounds like in the picture. Set aside. Make the breadcrumb mixture by combining the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and some Parmesan cheese- if you like. Take some milk in a bowl and get ready to dredge the eggplant slices in this mixture. Dip the eggplant slices in the milk first and then roll it in the bread crumb mixture. Set them on a tray lined with aluminum foil. These will be baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 325F. The tops should be browned and the eggplants should be soft. Once they are baked....assemble them in a baking tray to be cooked further.
Pour some sauce at the bottom of the tray, arrange the baked eggplant slices, and pour some more sauce on top, completely covering the eggplants. Add the Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses on top. Cover with foil and bake at 325F for another 35-40 minutes.
Here's another look at the finished product.....I served this with Stuffed Bell peppers and homemade Garlic bread. This was a perfect meal to welcome my brother back home from the Army and we all enjoyed this healthier,tastier version of this classic Italian recipe. Enjoy.
I will post the Stuffed bell pepper recipe in the next post...


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