Saturday, September 6, 2014

Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Hello blog world! 

Did you miss me?

I've had some things going on as of late. Namely, this little test called the Bar exam. It was probably the least exciting and most stressful 3ish months of my life, but it's over over over and I'm back to cooking up a storm. That being said, I am super stoked on all of the people who continued to follow my blog, contact me and repost recipes while I was gone. It was a nice surprise to come back and check my views! Y'all didn't forget about me!

Now that I'm back, I've got a lot of fun stuff coming your way - starting with this magnificent recipe that was made by request for one of my besties. 

I cook for my friends often and normally I just make whatever I feel like making, but sometimes I ask for their opinions and on occasion I oblige their requests. This was one of those times.

Eggplant parm is a dish that runs the spectrum from easy to complicated and from super healthy to fried and gross. Obviously, my take on this Italian classic (is it an Italian classic? I don't even know. Maybe it's just an Italian poser dish that Olive Garden and the Food Network picked up and branded as "authentic") is going to be on the easy, healthy sides of the spectrums (is that the plural of spectrum? There are a lot of parentheses in this blog post; I apologize. Sort of.)

I rarely take the time to make my own pasta sauces for dishes like this (because it's supposed to be easy and fast and a good jarred pasta sauce is so good, right?!) but I had a bunch of tomatoes and fresh herbs and things at my disposal so I just went ahead and made my own marinara sauce which was surprisingly easy. You basically just put a bunch of fresh tomatoes, about half a can of tomato paste, a little veggie broth, whatever italian herbs you have on hand (dried or fresh), about a tablespoon of either sugar or agave (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, it won't make the sauce sweet, I promise) and some coconut oil in a big pot and then put it on low heat for like an hour and voila! Marinara sauce. You could puree it if you were being super serious but I like mine chunky!

OK! Enough talk! Here is the recipe:

Easy Baked Eggplant Parmesan
  • 3 small eggplants, cut into rounds (I had eggplants from my garden, they were so petite!)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (I used really awesome gluten free ones but you could also use panko or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 2 Tbsp prepared mustard (I actually used 
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt, pepper and italian seasoning, to taste
  • Marinara sauce (jarred is totally fine or you can make it yourself - see the above tips)
  • 1 cup Daiya or other nondairy cheese
  • Fresh basil for garnishing

Start by salting the eggplant rounds in order to "sweat" them.  Basically, you just want to rub them down with salt and let them sit for 30 minutes to an hour. They will literally develop beads of sweat as the salt draws the water out. It's pretty neat.

After you sweat the eggplant, rinse the excess salt off. At this point, some people like to peel the eggplant skins off but I'm lazy and stuff so I just salt and sweat em' and throw em' into the batter with the skin still on.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Prepare your batter by whisking the nondairy milk, mustard, vinegar and spices in a shallow bowl.

Dip each piece of eggplant into the batter and then into the breadcrumbs and place on a greased or lined cookie sheet. Bake the slices for about 10 minutes or until golden.

Top with warm marinara and sprinkles of Daiya cheese (I put mine back in the oven for an additional couple minutes to melt the cheese a little). Garnish with fresh basil.

That's all for now!

Live long and prosper, and remember to sometimes listen to your friends :)