Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eggplant (or Zucchini!) Parmesan & Pasta

This lackluster snapshot is from last summer, but don't let it keep you from making the dish!

Dude has made this for us for the last two summers, and he learned how to make it from a bonafide Italian friend, about whose culinary talents an entire blog could (nay, should!) be written.

I've made it with both eggplant-- which is more typical and with which you may be's the great part...ZUCCHINI! Any gardener knows why I'm ecstatic that this can be deliciously reproduced with zucchini. I love zucchini- love it- but even I reach the point when I look at overachieving zucchini plants and am tempted to just throw some of the baseball bat suckers in the weeds and be done with it. Since my pitiful eggplants are still more seedlings than plants, I'm afraid the zucchini version is most prominent in my future.

Here's a vague ingredients list. (Sorry, this is a whip-together meal. No precise measurements needed.)

You'll need
-Eggplant or zucchini
-A few eggs
-Some milk
-Bread crumbs and spices of your choice
-Parmesan cheese
-Shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese
-Fresh basil leaves
-Red sauce/spaghetti sauce of your choice
-Pasta of your choice
-A pot
-Some water to boil in your pot

If you make your own pasta sauce, it might serve you well to make it first. I usually fly by the seat of my pants with sauces, but my red sauce is a similar version to this pizza sauce, only with more garlic and less (or no) red pepper, and I use home-canned tomatoes in indiscriminate amounts, sometimes adding tomato paste for thickness.

Take eggplant or baseball bat zucchini and slice into 1/4- 1/2-inch thick coins. Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of salt. Let sit for an hour to draw out excess moisture. (I usually skip this step with the zucchini. Horrors!) Pat dry and dip in an egg wash. The amounts will vary according to how much eggplant/zucchini you want to bread, but a rough rule is a few tablespoons of milk for each egg. Whisk together in a small bowl.

Take the egg-dipped vegetable slices and dredge them in your choice of bread coating. I usually use plain homemade bread crumbs mixed with a bunch of Parmesan cheese, along with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning, to taste. To up the ante, if it's summertime, and you've got fresh herbs growing, chop those and add them in place of the dried Italian seasoning (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, basil, etc.).

To save time, at this point preheat the oven for broiling.
Also, begin boiling water in a pot in preparation for cooking pasta.
Add pasta as soon as the water is ready, and drain it when it is cooked al dente.

Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, fry the vegetable slices in a few tablespoons of olive oil until crisp-tender and golden brown, flipping once. Drain on paper towels before placing on a cookie sheet. Spoon some sauce over each slice, layer with shredded mozzarella cheese (or, if you're fancy, mozzarella slices) and top with a large basil leaf. Place in oven and broil until cheese is melted.

Place a mound of your desired pasta on a plate, top with breaded eggplant/zucchini slices, and spoon red sauce over all. Eat, eat, eat. EAT!

I cannot begin to tell you how much I am craving this right now.
Zucchini plants, hurry up!


cadie said...

Looks good! I've never had eggplant before. I bet I would like it; breaded like that, at least! I probably would like zucchini like that, too... usually zucchini and other summer squash tastes rather bland to me.

abigail said...

Oh, it's so good! You really should try it, especially given how excellent the red sauces made in your kitchen taste! (I speak from experience...)