Sunday, April 24, 2011

Vegetarian Classic

Pesto and Panko Eggplant Parmesan
My mom brought back one of my favorite Eggplant Parmesan recipes from a trip she took to Tuscany. It's great! Fresh, delicious, and very time consuming. While I enjoy whipping up this authentic Italian recipe for friends or a Sunday night dinner, it's a bit labor intensive and I wanted to find a quicker twist on one of my favorite vegetarian meals. This recipe was inspired by a bag of marinara sauce and a bag of pesto I had in the freezer. You can definitely use homemade, or just get your favorite prepared brand from the store for a quick and tasty dinner.

- 1 large eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/4 disks
- salt
- 4 eggs, beaten
- flour for dredging
- 2 c. Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 c. pesto
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced crosswise
- 4 c. marinara sauce
- chopped Italian Parsley
- 1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
- olive oil for frying

Line a baking sheet with paper towels and arrange eggplant disks in a single layer. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Allow eggplant to sit and "sweat" for about 10-15 minutes per side. The salt will dissolve and beads will form on the slices. Rise eggplant disks in cool water and pat dry. Set aside and preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Spray a 13x9" baking dish and set aside.

Set out an assembly line to prepare the eggplant for frying. Mix about a cup of flour with a tsp. of salt and some pepper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs with pesto, and set aside. Fill a second shallow dish with panko crumbs. Working in batches, dredge eggplant slices, one at a time, in the flour. Then dip into the egg and pesto mixture, allowing the excess drip back into the bowl. Then carefully coat in panko crumbs and set aside for frying.

 Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry coated eggplant slices until they are crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. When all the slices are fried arrange in the prepared baking dish. Layer slices of eggplant the slices of mozzarella cheese. Pour marinara sauce evenly over the eggplant and mozzarella then sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese.
Bake eggplant for about 25-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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