Comforting Eggplant Parmesan
Hello comfort food!
There’s something about rich tomato sauce and melted mozzarella that makes my heart swoon. Add in a glass of red wine, and oh my goodness, I get a bit giddy. Maybe it recalls memories of Italy and hidden trattorias on cobblestone roads, or it makes me think of huddling by an oven on a cold winter night as warm food and melty cheese bubble from within. Whatever the reason may be; it just brings on feelings of pure comforting happiness.
So perhaps this Eggplant Parmesan recipe makes me a little weak in the knees, but it’s comfort food; that’s its main job. Comfort food brings you to your roots, makes you feel cozy and warm, and it brings you peace.
So yes, it’s soul soothing and all but unfortunately, comfort food usually makes up the worst offenders in the American Diet. Fried things, gravy, macaroni and cheese, chicken dumplings, and ice cream: I’m looking at you.
But your comfort food doesn’t have to equal an unhealthy food bomb. In fact, if you make this delectable Eggplant Parmesan, your comfort food can be delicious, healthy and soothing too. Swoon. What separates this eggplant parmesan from its unhealthy comrades is that it’s baked, not deep fried to remove all eggplant-ness from it, and its coated in panko crumbs as opposed to heaps of parmesan cheese and store-bought bread crumbs with weird additives and other ingredients. Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on your boxed breadcrumbs? Yikes.
Make this instead. Once the baked eggplant, warm sauce, melty cheese, and fresh basil are all stacked and layered together, it will make even meat-eater’s hearts palpitate. Time for some comfort food done the VeguKate way.
Comforting Eggplant Parmesan
Inspired by Whole Foods Market
1 large eggplant, sliced into ½ inch thick rounds
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cup whole-wheat panko
Freshly ground salt & pepper
1 T olive oil
4 cups red sauce
1 cup sliced fresh mozzarella cheese (buffalo mozzarella, if you can find it, is the best)
½ cup shaved parmesan reggiano cheese
Handful of fresh basil, torn
Preheat oven to 375° F. Drizzle olive oil over baking sheet and set aside.
In a shallow bowl, combine panko crumbs with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Coat eggplant rounds with beaten egg and dip into panko mixture. Place breaded eggplant rounds on oiled baking tray in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake another 10 minutes.
Remove eggplant from oven, and increase temperature to 425° F. Remove eggplant from baking tray and spread a layer of sauce on the bottom. You can also use a baking dish, but I prefer not to make more dishes. Place the eggplant back on the baking tray over sauce and top with more sauce and both cheeses. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese begins to melt and bubble.
Remove from oven and garnish with fresh basil. Enjoy!