Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan (or the eggplant that wouldn’t die)

Eggplant ParmesanEggplant is a difficult vegetable.

For one thing, it’s difficult to interest my husband in anything involving eggplant. For another, any dish that features eggplant seems to involve a ton of prep work – you have to salt the eggplant, fry the eggplant, and make all the accompanying elements designed to hide the eggplant from people like Bob. And all of that work means a lot of dirty dishes – which is probably one reason why he hates eggplant so much.

But it’s late October in Iowa and we haven’t had a killing frost yet. Not only is my eggplant alive and kicking, it’s still blooming:

Eggplant blossom

And I’m going to make Eggplant Parmesan, by God.

Now, be forewarned. Like most anything involving eggplant, Eggplant Parmesan is a dish that requires a lot of doing. But we had spent the evening processing end-of-season tomatoes for canning, so one labor-intensive element – the sauce – was well underway. With the kitchen already a big mess, what were a few more dirty dishes?

Eggplant Parmesan

The recipe that served as my inspiration can be found here. But, as always, I did things my own way. For my version, I used the following ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups prepared tomato sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

First, I prepped the eggplant. The skin seemed thick and tough, so I peeled the eggplant and then cut it into rounds about ¾-inch think. I salted the eggplant slices on each side and set them on a rack to rest while I prepped the rest of the ingredients. Salting the eggplant helps to draw out any bitterness and keeps it from absorbing too much oil when fried. Simply wipe off the excess salt with a paper towel before proceeding.

Preparing eggplant

While the eggplant slices were resting, I prepared the breading ingredients in three shallow bowls:

  • Bowl 1: One cup of flour liberally seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Bowl 2: Two eggs, beaten
  • Bowl 3: One cup panko bread crumbs combined with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Making eggplant parmesan

Next came the fun part. First, I dredged the eggplant slices in flour, coating both sides and shaking off the excess. Next, I gave them a dunk in the egg bath. Finally, I dredged them through the panko and Parmesan mixture, making sure they were evenly coated on both sides.

Making eggplant parmesan

I then fried the slices in olive oil until golden on each side.

Making eggplant parmesan

After draining the fried eggplant slices on paper towels, I transferred them to a rectangular baking dish coated with a little tomato sauce in the bottom to prevent sticking. I topped each slice with more tomato sauce and a mixture of the remaining Parmesan cheese and the mozzarella. I baked them in a 375° oven for about 20 minutes and finished them under a broiler for a couple of minutes until the cheese was nice and bubbly and browned:

Making eggplant parmesanPretty darn tasty. Even Bob ate a few slices.

And I still can’t get over the fact that I’m getting fresh eggplant (and tomatoes and peppers) out of the garden when everything around me looks like this:

Fall colorsBut the extended forecast shows temperatures dropping into the low 30s by the end of the week. This may be the garden’s last hurrah.

What’s growing in your garden these days?