Sunday, April 2, 2017

An Eggplant Lover

Eggplant was never one of my favorite vegetable. Growing up, I dreaded dinner the days my mom made her Indian eggplant curry dish. I just remember it being slimy and for some reason it always reminded me of fish.

Well, over the years I've given eggplant second and third chances and it's slowly grown on me. One of the best eggplant dishes I've ever had was the Eggplant with Miso at Nobu. However, I can't afford to go to Nobu as often I'd like. So, typically the eggplant dish I try most often when dinning out is an Eggplant Parmesan.

Recently, while at the grocery store I decided to try something outside my comfort zone of veggies which is typically just onions, bell peppers, and spinach. On any given day our dinner will consist of these three veggies in some form or fashion. I know it's sad, but isn't it also amazing that I manage to stick with the same three veggies and make something different each time? Or maybe I'm just very good at fooling my husband! ;) Anyways, so I picked up a big firm eggplant and secretly told myself it's ok if I completely screw this up.

After looking up a few recipes on pinterest and other various sites, I realized that I didn't have all the ingredients of any one recipe. So, I decided to just wing it with the little understanding I had of the general concept. And guess what? This was was the best eggplant parmesan I have ever had... even my husband agreed!

edited via Instagram

The main ingredients in an eggplant parmesan are typically an eggplant, parmesan cheese (duh?!), some sort of breading, egg to help the breading stick, a little bit of seasoning, marinara sauce, and some bed of pasta to serve the eggplant with.

Here are a few of my tips. Don't cut the eggplant too thick or it will become too soggy. I like to cut mine in less than half an inch rounds. Next, be sure to salt your eggplant well, let it rest for at least 10 to 15 mins, and completely dry off each slice of eggplant prior to continuing. I can't stress how important it is to really take care of the eggplant up to this step before continuing. If you do this, the rest will be easy peasy.

Then simply whisk up 1 to 2 eggs in a bowl, depending on how many eggplant slices you have. In dish mix up some breadcrumbs or panko crumbs with all the seasonings of your choice. I decided to use some regular breadcrumbs and added garlic powder, herb de provence, salt, pepper, and some fresh thyme and grated parmesan cheese. I mixed it all very well together. Line a tray with parchment paper and begin to dip the eggplant in the egg and then breadcrumb mixture and place it on the tray. I made sure to really pat the breadcrumb mixture on to the eggplant well. You can put some oil on the eggplant at this time, but I just lightly sprayed them all with cooking spray. At 350 degrees, cook the eggplant for a good 25 minutes or until the tops start to get lightly brown.

Next, I just used bottled marinara sauce and placed a good tablespoon on each eggplant slice and topped it with a slice of fresh mozzarella. The eggplants went back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the cheese was lightly melted on top. Mean while, I cooked up some linguine pasta I had on hand. This would actually be my second tip. Try linguine versus the traditional spaghetti pasta that is typically severed with eggplant. It makes the dish a bit lighter. Lastly, make a small bed of pasta on a plate and place the eggplant on top. Finish it off with some fresh basil. I must admit that the fresh mozzarella and fresh basil really complete the dish.

So, am I now a lover of eggplant? Umm... maybe! I'm so glad that I tried something outside of my comfort zone. I'm also very happy with how it turned out. I can't wait to make this for my mom the next time I see her and maybe I'll give her eggplant curry another try as well.

Are you lover of eggplant?