Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CSA - Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

I have made eggplant parm maybe two times from scratch.  It is kind of like child birth; you forget how painful it is which is why you are dumb enough do it again and mid way through you think, why on earth did I do this again!?!  It is a very hot, messy, and time consuming task to bread and fry all those eggplant rounds. Of course when it comes bubbly hot out of the oven your labor of love is just perfect and you are so pleased you think - hey, I could do that again.  I have heard people talk of buying pre-cooked frozen eggplant slices.  I have searched the frozen food department high and low looking, but have yet to find such an item.  I think it is just a mystical dream product, and since no one I know will admit to actually using them, I still can't find them.

With this recipe I used both eggplant and zucchini to create a mixed parm casserole.  And I will admit my cheat;  I used a jar of sauce for this one.  I often make my own sauce, but also keep jars of good sauce on hand; Classico or Paul Newman's.  It was excellent with the jar sauce!  The big leaves of basil layered in were  perfection.

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan
Source:  variation on a recipe in  How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

1 medium eggplant
1 large zucchini
Vegetable oil for frying
Flour for dredging - about 1 cup
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 dozen fresh basil leaves

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Salt it if you like.

Side note on Salting Eggplant:  I have been salting eggplants lately, it does seem to make them sweeter and less rubbery when cooked.  I have seen a few ways to do it.  I use to lay the eggplant in single layers on cookie sheets then salt, but they sit in the water that comes out then.  This time I layered them in a colander so the water sort of ran out.  I left them salted in the colander for about 1/2 hour then rinsed them and patted dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Heat about 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat.  You can use olive oil for better quality.  I find since this process uses so much oil and you really just want to get a crisp fry that vegetable oil is a more economical choice for this process.  Just my opinion.

Use shallow bowls or plates to create a dipping line.  You need 2 plates; plate of flour and plate of egg/milk slightly beaten.  Dip eggplant and zucchini in flour then egg/milk then flour again and drop into the hot oil.  Fry a few minutes each side till golden brown then place on paper lined plate to drain/cool.  You will have to fry the eggplant and zucchini rounds in batches.  This takes a bit of time, but it is the process.

Once all the eggplant and zucchini are fried it is time to prepare the baking dish.  I use a glass baking dish 9X13.  Spoon about 3/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Layer the eggplant on the bottom.  Top with 1/2 the cheese then some sauce and finally top with whole fresh basil leaves.  Now add a layer of zucchini, again top with cheese, sauce, basil then top the whole thing with fresh grated Parmesan. 

Bake 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbling.  Serve hot or at room temp.  Uses leftovers for Eggplant Parm Sandwiches.  Delicious!
  Salted the eggplant in a colander so the water could properly drain.  Layered them with lots of salt.

I had a huge light green zucchini so I sliced it up and made it with the eggplant.  Nice addition.

Frying them up in the pan!  It really takes a while when you can only fit 4 at a time.

 Resting and waiting for their turn in the parm pan!

 Ready for the oven!

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