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Roasted Eggplant Parmesan

Mary Berg

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Purists may scoff, but this is my go-to version of eggplant Parm. No, it is not dredged in bread crumbs. No, it is not fried. Yes, it is delicious. And to be honest, without the dredge, I’ll feel a little less gluttonous adding copious showers of extra Parmesan cheese.

  • Serves

    2 (with 1 L of sauce)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1½ cups quick and classic tomato sauce (or your favourite store bought tomato sauce)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 slices of fresh mozzarella or, if you’re feeling very nontraditional, some goat gouda (half the thickness of the eggplant slices and about the same size around)
  • fresh basil to garnish, optional
  • Parmesan frico to garnish, optional (recipe follows)

Parmesan Frico

  • ¼ cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Quick and Classic Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp white wine, optional
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 hunk of Parmesan rind, optional
  • 1 (796 ml or 28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2-4 tbsp sugar, depending on preference
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F, line one cookie sheet with tin foil, and another with a layer of paper towel.
  2. For the eggplant, trim off the top and bottom and slice into 1-cm disks. This should give you about 15 slices but more or less is fine. Place the slices in a single layer on the paper towel lined cookie sheet and evenly sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. This will draw out some of the moisture and bitterness from the eggplant and give it a super lovely texture.
  3. Allow the salted eggplant to sit for about 20 minutes while you gently heat the tomato sauce, finely grate the Parmesan cheese, and slice the mozzarella (or goat gouda if you’re like me and that’s all you have on hand).
  4. Pat the eggplant dry with another piece of paper towel and coat the foil lined cookie sheet with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the sheet and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and pop the eggplant into your preheated oven for 20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through.
  5. Remove the eggplant from your oven and top each with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce and evenly sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. At this point, the eggplant slices should look almost like little pizzas!
  6. Choose the three prettiest pieces of eggplant and top each with a slice of mozzarella (or gouda). Pop the whole thing back into the oven and cook until the cheese is perfectly melted and maybe a bit golden. If you’re in a rush or just want some crispy bits of cheese, throw on the broiler but be sure to keep your eyes and nose on alert – burnt cheese is rarely if ever a good thing.
  7. To serve, dollop some sauce down onto your plates and stack 5 or so of the roasted eggplant slices on top, making sure to finish with the super cheesy mozzarella layer. Toss some fresh basil on there as well as some freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Parmesan frico and share with your honey.

Parmesan Frico

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Scatter the Parmesan cheese onto the centre of the parchment paper, making sure that the cheese stays concentrated in one even and thinly spread layer.
  3. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until melted and just slightly brown. Be careful not to over brown the cheese because it. will. taste. awful.
  4. Remove the parchment from the hot cookie sheet and allow the frico to cool completely. Break apart and serve on light salads, any pasta, or roasted eggplant parm!

Quick and Classic Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onions with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes or until the onions start to soften. Add the finely minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so just to cook off some of that raw garlic hit.
  2. Add the white wine, if using, and the quartered cherry tomatoes and continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down a bit. Add the hunk of Parmesan rind (if using) as well as the canned tomatoes, sugar (enough to balance the acidity of the tomatoes), and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Cover the pot and lower the heat to allow the sauce to simmer away for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. After 10 minutes, the sauce will be flavourful and quite bright tasting. If you’re looking for a deeper and richer sauce, closer to the hour mark is where you need to go.
  3. Finally, stir in the parsley and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy over pasta, on pizza, with roasted eggplant parm, or, if you’re like me, just dip a hunk of cheese into the sauce for a super weird snack.
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