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Monday, August 13, 2012

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Since becoming unemployed, I have been trying my hardest to cook more homemade, healthier meals. Let's say it's been like a roller coaster of fickleness. Sometimes, I really don't feel like cooking which results in us going out to eat or grabbing some greasy fast food.

It can be a little demotivating at times to cook for two. I grew up with 3 other siblings so our family dinners were always HUGE. I basically learned how to cook for a small army with leftovers. I've been striving to exercise more so I've been doing Couch to 5K, but I've been stuck on week 3 for like a month. And I've been striving to cooking healthier, fresher dishes. Here is where community markets come into consideration.

I love community markets. My town has a great one every Saturday during the late spring and summer months. Tons of fresh produce and baked goods handmade by locals for super cheap. Plus, I'm supporting local business so I feel even better for buying. Unfortunately, it runs from 7:30am to 10am which are my prime sleeping hours and I am NOT a morning person. You could say I am an afternoon wildebeest.

Anywho, last weekend my husband and I stayed up all night and went to the community market. We actually arrived a bit too early so we went to get breakfast and came back 30 minutes later. I bought 2 eggplants, handmade wheat pasta, strawberry bread, cheesy za'atar flat bread, and baklava.

My original intentions were to grill the eggplant, but then I remembered that eggplant parmesan is even tastier! I even baked it to make it healthier!

To tell you the truth, I've never cooked eggplant before. I had to Google how to cut up an eggplant. The tutorial didn't tell me to peel it, so I left the skin on which ended up being a little tough. :( Also, my brother ate all the eggplant parmesan before I could get a photo of it.

Enough rambling! Recipe!

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Adapted from this recipe.

Makes 8-10 servings. Prep time: 25 mins Cook time: 35 min Ready in: 1 hour

2 medium (or 3 small) eggplants, peeled and thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Japanese Panko bread crumbs
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
6 cups spaghetti sauce (or tomato puree), divided
1 (12-16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
Mix both types of bread crumbs together in a bowl and set aside.
Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

I cooked the handmade wheat pasta to go with the dish and overall it was wonderful aside from the tough skin of the eggplant that I failed to peel off. The changes I made from the original recipe was I decreased the amount of Italian seasoned bread crumbs and added panko bread crumbs for more crunch. I actually did not have enough spaghetti sauce but it ended up being a good amount.

There was also TONS of fresh tomatoes for sale at the market, but I didn't buy any since I already had a can of tomato puree in the pantry. You could make your own tomato/spaghetti sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes! Here's good guide.

A very healthy and vegetarian friendly meal! I would highly recommend this for a great summer-fall time dinner. Just remember to peel the skin off the eggplant! If you have any questions or comments, just leave them below. Thanks for reading!

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