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Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

So, I’ll admit that eggplant isn’t one of my favorite foods.  Even when I had Eggplant Parmesan in the past, I hadn’t enjoyed it because I found it mushy and unpleasant tasting…

However, my wife is a big fan and I began playing around with strategies for making it in a manner we would both enjoy it and I think I’ve settled on the following.

First, I slice the eggplant into slices that are about 1/4″ thick and then toss them in a bowl with a handful of salt for at least an hour.  Eggplant is a moisture-filled vegetable, so the salt is critical in drawing out much of the excess moisture.

Then I do a three-dip fry with the slices (dredge in flour seasoned with garlic powder, dipped in beaten eggs, and then coated in plain breadcrumbs seasoned with oregano and basil) until you get a nice golden-brown color.

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I typically use canola oil for the frying, and find a cast-iron pot to be a great frying vessel.  You’ll also notice that I have a baking rack out to let the excess oil drip off the fried eggplant, which helps give them a crispier coat.

As the eggplant finishes frying and resting, I begin assembling my casserole.  I typically put a light layer of marinara on the bottom (we made our own this year, but any bottle will do if you want) and then put down a single layer of eggplant.  This then gets topped by a layer to cheese, more eggplant, and then some sauce.  I like to alternate fresh mozzarella and provolone between layers, but feel free to mix it up.

Below is a shot of the construction in-progress. 20140906_181442

And once all the layers are built, I add one last layer of sauce and cheese and toss it in the oven for 30-45 minutes.  Below is the finished product, using approximately 4 large eggplants.

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Once you cut into it, you get some clear and beautiful layers, as seen here (sorry, I had already dug in…).

Single Serving - Eggplant Parmesan

And, even though I’m not an eggplant fan, I not only find it tolerable, but excellent tasting.

I still don’t make it too frequently (it does take several hours and a lot of dishes to make, and my kids still aren’t big fans…), and while it’s vegetarian, I won’t claim it’s healthy.  However, it is the one way I have found to enjoy eggplant.

 

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