September 9, 2010

Back-to-School Eggplant Parmigiana {Webisode #40}

What’s Going on Today: Preschool orientation. Pay attention!
Naptime Goals: Prepare Eggplant Parmigiana, put significant school dates in my calendar.
Tonight’s Menu: Eggplant Parm, Green salad, dessert from cookbook recipe testing (!)
Parenting Lesson of the Day: Even if you don’t think they’ll ever learn their manners, trust me, they will.

Today I attended parent’s preschool orientation. Two hours of my morning was dedicated to listening to field trip policies, noting significant holidays and understanding snow day procedures. This was a meeting for parents only so my daughter stayed home with a sitter. We both agreed that was a good arrangement, it would have taken a hundred lollipops to get her to sit still for just one hour, let alone two! Tomorrow we go to her school for an hour to meet her classmates. Then, next week, I drop her off on her own. For Three. Whole. Hours. (Sniff!)

While she’s at school I’ll be in the kitchen. Like naptime, her school time is my downtime. I’ll have plenty of time to cook, photograph and write about tons of interesting recipes and food. I’ll treat myself to our old favorites, and I also look forward to experimenting with new, interesting methods and ingredients. This way, after she takes her post-school nap (more downtime for me!), dinner will be all ready in the fridge and we can be together for the rest of the day.

Since there is enough change taking place this week, today I am returning to an old favorite. My very first post was about Eggplant Parmigiana (check out the awful photograph!) It is one of my most favorite warm fall casseroles and this week is the perfect occasion for bubbly, cheesy comfort food. Here you’ll see that I prepare it while she’s napping (and in the future could do it while she’s at school), and then leave it in the fridge until it’s ready to bake. I’ve updated my old recipe, using new techniques for preparing the eggplant, eliminating the use of breadcrumbs, and using only fresh mozzarella for the best possible taste and texture. As you’ll see, the casserole comes together beautifully during the day and is perfect to have at the ready for dinner. As we get into the school rhythm I’m sure this is something we’ll be having again and again this fall. I am looking forward to it.

Recipe

Eggplant Parmigiana

Ingredients

2-3 large eggplants, ones that are maximum 3″ in diameter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. tomato sauce, preferably homemade
1 1lb. fresh mozzarella, coarsely shredded
¾ c. Parmesan, freshly grated
¼ c. fresh basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade

Olive Oil
Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a 13×9 baking dish and set aside.
  2. Remove the tops off each eggplant. Slice eggplants into disks that are about ¼″ thick. Place disks into a colander or on a thick layer of paper towels in a single layer. Sprinkle a little bit of Kosher salt on both sides of each disk. Place a clean paper on top of the eggplant layers. Place something heavy, like a tea kettle full of water, on top of the eggplant and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
  3. After eggplant have had a chance to “sweat” dredge them in flour. The best way to do this is to spread the flour out on a plate so that the disks can easily be flipped and shaken. After dredging each slice in flour shake them a little bit so there aren’t big clumps of flour on them. Then place them on a plate next to the stovetop.
  4. In a large skillet heat 4-5 T. olive oil over high heat. Just before it starts smoking add the eggplant a few slices at a time. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove the eggplant to a plate with a paper towel on it. Allow the eggplant to drain. Repeat procedure until all eggplant is cooked.
  5. Smear a few tablespoons of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking pan. Arrange eggplant slices on the bottom in one layer. Top each slice with a dollop of tomato sauce, a few pieces of shredded mozzarella, a pinch of basil and pinch of Parmesan. Repeat this procedure with a second layer of eggplant until all slices are used. Finish with mozzarella, basil and remaining Parmesan.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This casserole begs for hearty sauce and thick, flavorful eggplant. Be sure to pair it with something light and crisp, like a green salad or haricot vert.

Naptime Stopwatch

Preparing the casserole takes about 30 minutes, then dinner is ready for two nights!

Naptime Reviews

My daughter is slowly coming around to eggplant, but she loves the noodles!

More Naptime Recipes