Thursday, June 20, 2013

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Can I just tell you how thrilled I am that it is FINALLY summer?!

And nothing beats summertime than a delicious, light, yummy meal after a day full of splashin', swimmin', and sweet sunshine.

This eggplant parm is full of flavor and, because it is baked, it is light and doesn't make you feel guilty when you stuff your face with it.. especially during swim suit season.

Crispy eggplant smothered in homemade marinara sauce topped with ooey-gooey cheese... c'mon, there is just nothing better.

Here's to a good summer :)

2 eggplants, cut into 1/2" rounds
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
3 egg whites, beaten
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 30-oz jar crushed tomatoes
1 TBS tomato paste
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup basil leaves, chopped
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the eggplants into rounds about 1/2" thick and lay out on to cooling racks.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt and allow the eggplants to sit (sweat) for 30 minutes.

After the eggplant rounds have sweat for 30 minutes, take the rounds off of the cooling rack and spray the cooling rack with non-stick cooking spray and place over a cookie sheet covered in tin foil.  Create a dredging station to dredge the eggplant.  In one bowl place 3 egg whites and beat.  In a shallow plate add bread crumbs.  Place the cookie sheet with the cooling rack on top at the end of your station. (Shown in picture below).

First, dip the eggplant round in the egg whites.  Make sure the round is completely submerged in the egg whites.

Next, coat the eggplant in the bread crumbs.

Add the eggplant round to the sprayed cooling rack and repeat with all of the eggplant rounds.

Put the eggplant in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

While the eggplant is baking, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to a large saute pan and head over medium heat.  Add diced onion and minced garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent and tender, about 3 minutes.  Add crushed red pepper flakes and stir together.

Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste let it simmer for about 5 minutes.  After it has simmered, add salt and pepper, as well as the chopped basil.  Stir together and take off of heat.

After the eggplant has baked for 30 minutes, take out of oven and set aside.  They should be golden brown and crisp.

In a 9x28 baking dish, add a single layer of eggplant.  Continue to top with another single layer, until you use up all of the eggplant.  Using a 9x28 baking dish, I ended up having two layers.

Pour all of the sauce over the eggplant rounds. (I lifted a few rounds from the top layer and shoved some sauce in between the layers, just so the sauce is all over each round.) Top the sauce with the shredded cheese in an evenly distributed layer.

Place baking dish in oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn broiler on high and broil until cheese gets all bubbly and brown on top! Serve immediately and ENJOY!

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