August 2, 2012 | Vegetables
Eggplant – just one more of those vegetables that I don’t really love, but that keeps showing up in my weekly CSA bag of produce. Since I volunteer with Share Our Strength in an effort to end childhood hunger in America, I absolutely hate when I let something rot and throw it out as waste. So as I turned the corner on my knee replacement surgery this week (I can bend it past 120 degrees, so no more 6 hours a day sitting in the continuous motion machine!), I was intent on figuring out what to do with two eggplant staring at me from the vegetable drawer.When I took clients to cook in Italy in June (that seems like a lifetime ago, really), we made eggplant parmigiana with Paola at Gusto al Borgo. There, we prepared it the more traditional way by breading the slices and frying them off before stacking them with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.I opted to cook off the slices of eggplant in just a tiny bit of oil in nonstick pans before proceeding with the recipe, thereby eliminating the breading and a substantial amount of calories (and gluten for any of you with those issues). Although I chose to make mine as a casserole in a square baking dish, you can just easily follow the pretty presentation of the individual stacks like we did in Italy – either way works. In case you are concerned about my lack of love for vegetables, consider my husband’s comments. When he came home from work and discovered me making gnocchi (I did it!) and homemade marinara sauce, he asked what was for dinner. When I replied that it was eggplant parmigiana he asked “Why?” See? He’s worse than me when it comes to vegetables! But I must tell you, he ate his whole serving – chalk that up to a tasty marinara sauce and some nice fresh mozzarella. Buon appetito.
- 2 small eggplants, slice about ¼ inch thick
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup marinara sauce, or more to taste
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
- fresh basil leaves, optional
- Cook off eggplant slices in a nonstick pan over medium high with just a tiny bit of olive oil for each batch, about 2 minutes per side. Sprinkle very lightly with salt while cooking. Set aside until all eggplant slices are cooked, adding more oil to the pan as needed.
- Spray an 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray, then spoon about ¼ cup marinara sauce over the bottom. Layer with eggplant slices, about ¼ cup sauce, ⅓ of the Parmigiano, and ⅓ of the mozzarella. Repeat with 2 more layers to use up remaining eggplant, Parmigiano, and mozzarella. If desired, toss a few roughly torn basil leaves on top.
- Cover with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand a few minutes before slicing and serving.