Eggplant Parmesan

 

Delicious Eggplant Parmesan

Delicious Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

This has always been one of my favorites since I first had it at a little local Italian restaurant, Marguerite’s, right here in our home town.  The restaurant never reopened after hurricane Katrina and we all miss it so much!  You can use what ever pasta you have on hand.  I am using angel hair here but I have also used penne, linguine, and spaghetti.  They are all good!

 Basic Marinara:

4 Tbs olive oil

2 onions chopped

2 bellpeppers chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

1 whole pod of garlic, peeled and fine chopped

1/2 cup white wine

4 – 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes, drained (liquid reserved) and hand crushed

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

4 chicken bullion cubes

1 tsp salt (or more for adjusting taste)

1 tsp pepper (or more for adjusting taste)

1 TBS Garlic powder

1 TBS Onion Powder

1 TBS Dried thyme

1 TBS Dried oregano

1 TBS Dried Basil

4 bay leaves

1 Bouquet Garni (fresh rosemary, oregano, and thyme)

In a medium sauce pot, heat the olive oil over high heat.  When hot, add the chopped onions, bell pepper, and celery.  Let this sauté until lightly golden.  You may have to reduce your heat just a bit.  This should take about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and let it saute for about another minute, stirring continually so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Pour in the white wine.  Stir well.  Reduce heat to low and add the tomatoes, fresh basil and parsley.  You may need to add a cup or so of the reserved liquid.   Mix well and add bullion cubes, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, oregano, basil, bay leaves and bouquet garni.  Bring the heat back up to a slow boil then reduce it again to medium low.  Cover it and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.  Check it a couple of times during the cooking process to make sure you don’t need to add anymore liquid.  After 30 minutes, uncover and let it cook on low for another 15-20 minutes to thicken.  If you feel that it is too liquidy, you can add a little tomato paste.  Reduce heat to low until ready to use.

 Alfredo Sauce:

1 stick of unsalted butter (not margarine)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (no canned stuff)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

fresh chopped parsley (optional)

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the heavy cream.  Continue to stir until the sauce starts to thicken and is slightly bubbly.  Stir in 1/2 of the parmesan cheese and stir until the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Season with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.   Reduce heat and cover until ready to use. Whisk often so a skin doesn’t form.  The sauce will continue to thicken somewhat which is alright.

 Frying the eggplant and assembling the dishes:

Preheat your oven to bake at 350 degrees

Ingredients list:

1/2 – 3/4 cup olive oil for frying

4 large eggplant aprox 1 1/4 lbs each cut into 1/2 inch circles

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 tbs salt

1 tbs pepper

I Tbs dried oregano

1 tsp cayenne pepper

3 eggs beaten with about 3 tbs water or milk

*1 box angel hair pasta cooked and drained according to package direction.  Drizzle with a little          olive and set aside until ready to use.

*2 cups fresh grated mozzarella cheese

*1 1/2 cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese

*1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

*these ingredients are used in assembling the dishes

When frying the eggplant, I like to create  an assembly line.  I lay all of my sliced eggplant out on a baking sheet.  I line another baking sheet with foil (makes an easier clean up).  On this baking sheet, I mix all of my breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, oregano, & cayenne.  Mix well.  In a medium sized bowl (big enough to fit the eggplant in one slice at a time, I beat my eggs with the water or milk.  I set it in the corner of the sheet that has the flour mixture.  I have all of this lined up on the left side of my skillet.  On the right side of the skillet, I place another baking sheet and line it with paper towels or brown paper bags to drain the cooked eggplant on.  Next, I am ready to heat my oil.  Pour the oil into the large skillet over high heat.  While the oil is heating, get the eggplant ready.  Dip it into the egg mixture making sure it sticks to both sides.  Then coat each side of the eggplant with the bread crumb mixture.  Test to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a tad of the flour mixture into the oil.  If it sizzles then it is ready.  You will have to work in batches.  Add as many eggplant slices to the pan that will fit without crowding the pan.  My pan holds about 5-6 slices.  Reduce the heat to medium for the duration of the frying time (this is what works for my cooking surface.  Different surfaces may require adjusting but you don’t want the oil to burn.). Cook the eggplant for 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden.  As the eggplant cooks, place the rounds on the lined baking sheet to soak up excess oil.

Now to assemble the dish.  You can use a rectangular casserole dish or individual au gratin dishes.  I prefer to use the individuals but either is perfectly fine.  On the bottom of the dish  you are using, spread a THIN layer of the marinara.  Top this with a generous layer of the pasta.  Drizzle a generous amount of the Alfredo sauce over the pasta.  Sprinkle in a thin layer of the mozzarella. Next, layer in the eggplant.  For the individuals, I have found that 2 of the large circles works great.  I sort of overlap them slightly.  Next, ladle the remaining marinara.  Top with the remaining mozzarella. Line another baking sheet with foil (hopefully you have been cleaning as you were cooking and have one of the ones you just used cleaned and ready to go). Place the au gratin dishes or casserole dish on the baking sheet uncovered.  Place into preheated oven and cook for 12 – 15 minutes for the au gratin dishes or 15 – 20 minutes for the casserole.  Add the Parmesan cheese to the tops and cook until melted (3 – 5 minutes).  Sprinkle the tops with the fresh parsley.  This meal is perfect with a spiring mix salad and some garlic French bread.

 Serve and Enjoy!!!

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