I know. I know.
It’s eggplant parmigiana. How many different ways can you make it? I promise, from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet, this is the most awesome way I have ever made eggplant parm.
#1. The eggplant is broiled, not breaded and baked or fried.
#2. The tomato sauce is really deep and rich, without being complicated.
#3. The pasta is whole wheat and I’m going to keep pushing it until you all are eating it.
#4. Melty broiled mozzarella is the best thing ever, and on this I will hear zero arguments. Got it???
This dish is a little bit time-intensive, but it’s neither something you can’t handle, nor not worth it. It involves no special techniques except for y’know, keeping an eye on your broiler, and doing a little multitasking. You can do this. Let’s begin.
1 Eggplant, medium sized, top and bottom cut off, remainder sliced top-to-bottom into 4 slices. Either peel before cutting, or discard the nubbins on the ends that are mostly skin and very little eggplant meat.
2 Cloves garlic
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes – with basil, with Italian seasoning, or plain, whatever you like best.
1/2 box of whole wheat pasta
Assorted seasonings: Dried oregano, garlic powder, dried parsley, chili flake
Mozzarella. Not Shredded.
Step 1. The Eggplant Begins
Lay the eggplant slices out on a cooling rack, and sprinkle them with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. This step will draw out some of the moisture that tends to make eggplant soggy, and it will neutralize the bitterness that eggplant can have. Plus, it gives you time to prep other things.
So, while the eggplant is sitting, mix together roughly 1 teaspoon each of the dried oregano, garlic powder, and parsley, and a pinch of the chili flake. Pour in an oil like sunflower or canola oil, something that won’t break down under high heat, because you’re about to stick the eggplant under an open flame. You want to have something that resembles Italian salad dressing, so drizzle in the oil until you reach a pretty runny consistency, where the herbs and garlic powder and chili flake are suspended in the oil.
When the 30 minutes are up, rinse your eggplant well under running water, and pat it dry. Then, drizzle the herb/oil mixture over the eggplant slices and use a pastry brush or your fingers to ensure that the slices are all coated on both sides with deliciousness.
Step 2: The Sauce/Pasta contingent
The sauce is a manner of personal taste, of course, but here is what I do. First, put a big pot of salted water on to boil. It’ll take longer than you think, and the sauce happens pretty quickly. Dice an onion, and chop up 2 cloves of garlic. Put the onion in the bowl that held the herby oil mixture, because that way the flavors from the eggplant will be echoed in the sauce. Toss the onion bits around, and then put them in a saute pan with a tablespoon or 2 of oil. Sprinkle with salt, and cook on medium-low heat until the onions start releasing their liquid. Then, add in the garlic, and some tomato paste. Stir to combine, and once the tomato paste has cooked for a few minutes, add the can of tomatoes and smash with a masher. You COULD use crushed tomatoes, but I prefer the whole ones for this situation. Season with a little salt and pepper, but be careful because tomato paste is salty. Let simmer while you’re staring at your watch waiting for the pasta water to boil, stir frequently so the sauce doesn’t stick, and cook the pasta in the normal way in the water.
Step 3: The Big Ta-Daa
Turn on your broiler once you put the pasta in to cook. Take your eggplant slices, and put them on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet. Stick them under the broiler for roughly 3 minutes, flip, and broil for another 2 minutes. While the eggplant is broiling, slice your mozzarella into slices that will fit on top of the eggplant. After you flip the eggplant, drain the pasta, and once that’s done, lay a slice of cheese on top of each piece of eggplant, and broil for an additional minute or 2, until the cheese gets lovely and melty and brown-speckley and delicious. After that, you know what to do: pasta, sauce, eggplant, NOM!
This is a great variation on Eggplant parmesan’s traditional bready, soggy self. It’s awesome in a different way than my earlier attempt at deconstructed Eggplant Parm, which is awesome if you love fried eggplant like I do. However, this type is more virtuous, without sacrificing any flavor. It’s a winner.
Try it! You’ll like it!!