Eggplant Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash

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Here’s an eggplant parm recipe that won’t leave you feeling heavy and bloated! Not only is the eggplant baked instead of fried, it is coated in almond meal instead of bread crumbs, and paired with spaghetti squash rather than the traditional side of heavy pasta.

I did coat the eggplant in a very thin layer of flour to start the dredging process after reading the Cook’s Illustrated article that tested many combinations and concluded that the 3-step dredge (flour, egg, bread crumb) results in the best texture. However, I’m very tempted to try this again with just the egg and the almond meal since it already has such a nice hearty texture.

Eggplant Parmesan (Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

2 medium sized organic eggplants, cut crosswise into rounds

coarse ground salt

4 cups almond meal

2 c grated pecorino cheese, divided (or parmesan-I personally like the extra saltiness of pecorino in this dish)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 organic, free range eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper

all-purpose seasoning

4 Tbsp olive oil

16 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese

Amy’s Traditional Tomato Sauce

2 28oz. can organic roma tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 sweet vidalia or maui onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4-5 basil leaves (I used a pre-frozen basil cube: see previous post)

1 tsp crushed red pepper

salt and pepper to taste

The first and crucial step is to sweat the eggplant for a nice tender texture. Arrange the eggplant rounds in a large colander and sprinkle with coarse ground kosher salt (about 1-2 Tbsp). Let sit for 45 minutes. Lay out sheets of paper towels and press out any extra moisture in the eggplant rounds. Set up your dredging station by pouring your flour into a shallow dish (I like to use a pie dish), slightly beating the eggs in a shallow bowl, and combining the almond meal, 1 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and a little all-purpose seasoning in another pie dish.

 Preheat your oven along with 3 or 4 large baking sheets at 425 degrees. Next begins the dredging. Lightly coat each round in flour, then cover in a thin layer of egg, and finally cover both sides with the almond meal mixture. Coat the preheated baking sheets with a tablespoon of olive oil and line each sheet with the coated eggplant rounds. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden on each side, flipping the eggplant half way through.

Meanwhile, prepare tomato sauce. Add olive oil to a small saucepan and sweat onions on medium heat, approx. 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Finally add the crushed red pepper and fresh basil leaves (or basil cube).

To assemble have your baked eggplant rounds, sliced mozzarella, 1 cup grated pecorino or parm, and tomato sauce ready. Add a thin layer of tomato sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. Layer the eggplant rounds, cover in a thin layer of sauce, and add slices of fresh mozzarella followed by a sprinkle of pecorino or parmesan cheese. Continue layering until the casserole dish is full. I was able to fit 3 layers of eggplant into my dish. The top layer should always be freshly sliced mozzarella and a sprinkle of pecorino or parmesan. Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned and bubbly. I like to broil mine for a few minutes at the very end to get a nice crisp on top.
My roommates both said that this was the best eggplant parm they ever had. Moral of the story: breadcrumbs  and frying oil are completely unnecessary to create a delicious crisp coating for eggplant parm.
For a side of spaghetti squash
1 medium spaghetti squash
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place whole spaghetti squash in a baking dish. Bake for 1-1.5 hours or until a fork readily pierces the skin of the squash. Let squash cool, about an hour and slice down the middle length-wise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Finally, take a fork and scrape down the sides of the flesh and you will spaghetti squash strands in no time!
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3 responses »

  1. Pingback: Zucchini Parmesan | The Kitchen Faerie

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