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Monday, July 9, 2012

[Baked (Not Fried) Eggplant "Parmesan"]

All right now, I just made the most fabulous tray of eggplant Parmesan ever. Or close, anyway. Now, I will admit, for this trial run, I did use real cheese, but only because I haven't been as sensitive lately, though I may eat my words (and my meal again) tonight, and I never manage to eat my cheese substitutes before they mold. However, there's no reason that it wouldn't be just as (or nearly just as) delish using the cheese substitutes referenced in earlier blog posts--it'll just have a slightly different texture. But the rest of the ingredients will more than make up the diff.

This recipe is adapted from the Whole Foods Market  recipe, but changed to be a little healthier and a little more flavorful.

You will need:
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4"-1/3" medallions
2-3 farm fresh eggs (I have an allergy to eggs from chickens fed "special" feed, so I buy mine directly from a farmer friend of my family), beaten
Panko bread crumbs (amount depends on how "large" your eggplant is--I got away with less than 1 cup, but barely)
2-4 tomatoes (ripe make the recipe sweet, green makes it tangy--I had both, and both tasted awesome)
Italian seasoning
Olive oil to coat the pan and drizzle to taste on the eggplant

Preheat your oven to 375--you might put the pan in while it's preheating to warm up before the next step. Slice your eggplant, and coat the pan with extra virgin olive oil. Then coat each slice with egg, then with Panko crumbs (optional: add garlic powder to the crumbs if you love garlic), and place them on the tray, no more than one layer thick (some overlapping doesn't hurt, but even baking is the goal here). Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, flip the eggplant medallions over, then cook another 10 minutes. During that last round, you might want to slice your tomatoes thinly, or do what I did and add each slice to the top of an eggplant medallion as you slice them. I did it later to use as much of the juices as possible. Either way, at the end that 10 minutes on the second side, remove the tray from the oven, and increase the heat to 475. For each medallion, place one slice of tomato on top. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and any other seasoning you like in your marinara sauces. Sprinkle generously with "mozzarella" cheez and vegan "Parmesan." Return the tray to the oven and bake for 5-15 minutes, until the "cheez" is melted and beginning to lightly brown. The WFM recipe called for 15 minutes, but as you can see in the photo below, 10 minutes was more than enough.

Take it out and enjoy it! What I found was so great about this version is how fresh the recipe tastes without the eggplant being fried and by using fresh tomato slices in the place of tomato sauce. Lots of flavor, and very satisfying.

I honestly had to restrain myself from scarfing down the other half of my tray. I think my distended stomach would've resented it, though. :) Oh, dear... and I think I'm already regretting using real cheese. Oh, well...

Yes, I know my pan is hideous. Unfortunately, it's also the only one that actually fits in my little oven.

So nummy! I'm definitely looking forward to eating the other half when I get home from work tonight!

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