Growing up my Mom was never one to experiment in the kitchen, we didn't have vegetables other than the typical corn or potatoes, we were never served fish unless it was frozen and shaped like a stick, and the only thing italian served in our house was spaghetti made from Ragu out of the jar. I don't blame her, my Grandma is the same way. I remember a story of my Grandma serving frozen peas for dinner that she thought had cooked long enough. If it weren't for my other Grandma and my Dad, I know that I would probably be the same way, let us all have a moment of silence for what could have been my life. Anyway, when it comes to the sort of dish I am making for you tonight it's pretty much safe to say that I am self taught. I have also begun making and eating things that years ago I would not have touched with a ten foot pole. Take for instance the fried oyster that I tried at Jungle Jim's on Saturday, and actually enjoyed, who would have thought?? Tonight was another night of firsts for me. I have never had eggplant before and have always heard great things about eggplant parmesan. I decided that it was time to try it out so I did and this is what I came up with.
1 Jar of Marinara Sauce (No Ragu please!!)
1 C. Bread Crumbs
2 Eggs (which I forgot to add to the ingredients picture)
1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2.) Slice eggplant into about 1/2 in. slices
3.) In separate bowls add the eggs with about a tablespoon of water and mix, and then in another bowl, add about 1 cup of bread crumbs. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. I used about a tablespoon of each, but use however much you would prefer. I like my bread crumbs heavily seasoned.4.) Dip each slice of eggplant into egg mixture and then into bread crumbs. Add to heated skillet that you have added two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons of butter to.5.) Repeat step 4 until you have browned each slice of eggplant.
6.) Take a 9x13 baking dish and spread about a 1/2 cup of marinara sauce to the bottom.
7.) Layer eggplant on the bottom. Mine created about two layers of eggplant.8.) Top eggplant with the rest of your marinara sauce.
9.) Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Use as little or as much as you prefer. Bake until the cheese is melted and has a nice golden brown color.
Now for the verdict, this was pretty darn good if I do say so myself. I think next time instead of browning the eggplant in a skillet on the stove, I am going to attempt to do it in the oven. This will save some time as well as prevent the extra fat that browning them in butter and olive oil adds. Now this is the first time I have ever tried this dish so I have absolutely nothing to compare this to but this is definitely a keeper and if you are looking for something quick and easy that really impresses, then this is the dish for you. If you want to make it extra special try using your own marinara sauce. I was being really lazy and used the kind that comes out of the jar, which is allowed every now and then. Serve this alongside a nice salad and a big hunk of garlic bread straight from the oven and you have yourself one heck of a dinner.
**Update on the sausage and peppers rustica-Daniel enjoyed it...yay for me. He had some last night when he got home from work. His only complaint was that it needed more of the sausage, said you can never have to much of the stuff. I guess this means next time I will be using more than just the three links of sausage.