We’ve been teased with a few days of warm weather over the last couple of weeks.
But I’m on to you, Mother Nature. I’ve been a Canadian gal long enough to know you’re about to screw us over with a blast of icy garbage.
This ‘spring is just around the corner’ optimism hasn’t got me fooled! On the contrary. I’m still cooking comfort food. Crikey. I’m still cooking casseroles.
I promise, this one will take the edge off when winter does return with a vengeance.
And oh. It will.
Do we have any eggplant haters out there?
Confession. I used to be one. In fact I was an extremely picky eater as a kid, but I had an especially big hate-on for bitter, spongy eggplant.
It turns out, all an eggplant needs to taste goddang delicious is a little love.
I haven’t had a bitter eggplant in a long time. Most of the bitterness long associated with eggplants has been bred out of the ones we’d find at the grocery store. Farmers 👈🏻 geniuses. Choose eggplants that have smooth skin and a very firm texture for freshness.
Salting the eggplant in this recipe isn’t to cut the bitterness, but to remove some of the excess moisture. Following the roasting step, you’ll be left with creamy, dreamy smokey slices of slightly salted eggplant that will be almost impossible to avoid eating on their own. You really can’t skip this step for this recipe because excess moisture will result in a really soupy final product.
As for the sponginess factor, eggplant, if given the chance will absorb a boatload of oil. In this recipe we control the oil it can absorb by brushing lightly with oil.
Remember our AMAZEBALLS Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches? Here, we’re avoiding super spongy eggplant by providing a coating for the slices before we fry them up in oil.
And so there we have it. Eggplant: unmasked!
As you read through the recipe below, you may find this tomato sauce recipe to be familiar. It’s a slight take on the insanely simple Three Ingredient Sauce we shared with you last year. No time for homemade sauce? Use your fave store bought. No brainer.
Half homemade is awesome too, guys. (Maybe just a smidgen of fresh basil to sprinkle in though?)
Now, layer away!
Get your slippers ready, pour yourself a glass of red and scoop out an extra large portion of eggplant parm. You are now prepared for winter’s final blast.
||1 hours, 10 minutes|
Inspired by Eggplant Parmesan from Food and Drink Winter 2017
- 1 can (796mL) Canned Whole Tomatoes with juices (preferably San Marzano Tomatoes)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 Medium yellow onion (peeled and quartered)
- 2 Large cloves garlic (peeled and left whole)
- 8-10 basil leaves (chopped)
- 2 Large eggplants (sliced into 1/4 inch rounds)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese (about 300g, grated)
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 cooked garlic cloves (removed from cooked tomato sauce)
||In a large saucepan over medium heat, add tomatoes, butter, onion and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add basil and cook for 15-20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat. |
||Remove onion and discard. Remove garlic and set aside to cool. Crush any large tomato pieces with the back of a spoon. |
||Preheat oven to 400F. Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt on both sides and lay them in a single layer on a wire rack or over some paper towels. Let sit for 15 minutes, pat extra moisture dry with paper towels. |
||Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and brush slices on both sides with 2 Tbsp of the canola oil. Bake 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until browned. |
||Meanwhile, mince cooled garlic cloves and combine with breadcrumbs, remaining Tbsp of canola oil and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. |
||Spread 1/3 tomato sauce over bottom of oiled 8"x11" casserole dish. Place single layer of slightly overlapping eggplant sliced overtop. Combine mozzarella and remaining 3/4 cup parmesan and sprinkle 1/3 of the cheeses over eggplant slices. Repeat layering 2 more times. |
||Sprinkle bread crumb topping over casserole. |
||Bake for 20-30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling, cheese is melted and panko is golden brown. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. |