Servings: 8 Prep: 1 hr 15 min Cook: 45 min Total: 2 hrs
Right out of the gate, I’m going to confess something. Prior to making this dish … I’ve never in my life even tasted an Eggplant Parmesan! The idea just never really appealed to me. It sounded like vegetables … without meat! No bacon? No porky goodness? No thanks. I’ll pass!
I’m not even sure why I decided to tackle this particular dish. Maybe because I knew it’s been around since eggplants were introduced to parmesan cheese, but maybe it’s because I wanted to take something I’d never tried and — make it SUPER delicious! This is what I’ve done!
As usual, when researching a dish like this, I need to understand the “lay of the land”. In general, it seems as if its slices of eggplant, which are dipped in eggs, flour and seasoned breadcrumbs, then fried or baked. From there, they are layered with parmesan cheese and tomato sauce and then baked! This all sounded far more appealing than the image of a “vegetarian” dish (no offense intended or implied, but … I do need to interject with the simple fact that bacon is awesome).
The puzzle became how to do the breaded eggplant, but … without the breading! I chose to go with a seasoned almond flour, instead of flour and breadcrumbs. It didn’t adhere as well, but if I was careful, it stuck well enough! Also, because of the almond flour, this got me to thinking about Romanesco. This made me want to infuse the whole thing with roasted peppers! Perhaps, at this point, I’m crossing Spain with Italy, but … I dunno. It was TASTY!
I’ll just call it Meat-Lover-Friendly Vegetarian Mediterranean Food!
Eggplant ParmesanPrint Rate
- 1 large globe eggplant
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 small roasted bell peppers peeled, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup blanched and slivered almonds toasted
- 3 large whole eggs
- 1/2 cup cream heavy whipping
- 1 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano chopped
- 4 each garlic clove minced
- 3 cups parmesan cheese grated
- 2 cup whole milk low moisture mozzarella, grated
- 1/2 inch light olive or safflower oil for frying
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Peel the eggplant and slice into discs about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle each slice heavily with salt. (This act is called "degorging" and is intended to give the cooked eggplant a firmer texture, while also removing some of the bitter toxins that can build up if the eggplant was grown slowly or in a colder climate. The idea is to remove excess water prior to cooking , as well as bringing these toxins to the surface where they will drain off.)
- Once your eggplant is salted, place the slices on a colander, over a bowl. Don't stack the eggplants on one another. Rather, distribute them evenly around the base and sides of the colander. All them to sit in the colander and drain for 30 to 60 minutes.
- While the eggplant is draining, make your tomato sauce. You can use a sauce from jar, or make my quick tomato sauce, linked above. You should add to the sauce your diced roasted peppers and slivered almonds. I tend to use peppers from a jar, but you can make your own by roasting over the flame of a gas burner, until the outsides are scorched. Alternately, you can oil the outside and place them in a 500 degree oven, until the outsides are scorched and blistered. Either way, be sure to turn them often, so that they scorch evenly on the surface, without ever spending so much time in or on the heat that they overcook and become mushy. Once scorched, place them in a bowl with an airtight lid, or plastic wrap. Allow them to steam for 10 to 20 minutes. Then, remove them from the bowl and peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Roasted peppers!
- Once your sauce is made, taste it and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Set it aside.
- Whisk together your cream and eggs. Set them aside.
- In a separate wide bowl or casserole pan, add your almond flour, chopped oregano and minced garlic, and about 1/3 of the grated parmesan cheese. Blend them well.
- At this point, your eggplant should be ready to rinse. There should be a puddle of translucent brown liquid in the bowl beneath. Discard this liquid. Set a clean towel, or a series of paper towels on the counter. Quickly rinse the eggplant and place the individual slices on the towel and press them somewhat into the towel, to both dry them and also push out any last drops of moisture.
- Heat up about 1/2-inch of oil in a wide sauté pan, over medium-high heat. The oil should be hot (about 350-375 degrees). Test by dropping a single drop of water into the oil (any more than that, and it's dangerous). If it splatters a bit, the oil is hot! (not too hot, though ... you don't want to see smoke and you don't want to burn these)
- Set another clean dry towel, or series of paper towels on the counter.
- This next step comes in repetitive steps. Place about 5 or 6 slices of eggplant into the eggs mixture. Then, remove them and place them into the almond flour mixture. Make sure they are well coated, on both sides. Feel free to press the flour into them, just a bit. You can also let them sit in the flour mixture for a moment, as well. This helps the flour stick to the eggplant. Then, fry the eggplant slices in the hot oil. When they are nice and brown on one side, flip them and fry the other side. While these are frying, dip the next 5 or 6 slices of eggplant into the eggs, then allow them to be fully dusted and settled into the almond flour mixture. Once the eggplant has fried, place the hot slices on the towels to drain. Repeat these steps until all the eggplant has been fried. Try not to eat all the fried eggplant slices, or you'll have nothing to make the eggplant parmesan out of.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
- Now, picture the sauce and divide it into 4 portions, in your mind. Also, creatively visualize dividing the eggplant and remaining cheeses into 3 portions. These are the numbers of layers in the eggplant parmesan.
- In a casserole pan large enough for all these ingredients, cover the bottom with 1/4 of the tomato sauce.
- Place 1/3rd of the eggplant rings above the sauce. Follow this with 1/3rd of the remaining cheeses and 1/3rd of the remaining sauce. Repeat this step, except on the final step, place the sauce directly on the eggplant, and finish with the remaining 1/3rd of the cheeses.
- Bake the eggplant for about 30 minutes, or until the top is nice and golden brown. Let it sit and rest for about 15 minutes prior to slicing into it.
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