One of my favorite shows on the Food Network is Throwdown with Bobby Flay, where the chef challenges a specialist to a judged contest to see who makes the better dish. It’s all in good fun and I learn a lot from watching the show. A recent throwdown about eggplant parmesan inspired me to revisit my favorite summer comfort food!
August is the perfect time to make anything eggplant. Unfortunately it’s not available locally most of the year. This dish calls for baking which can be unpleasantly hot, so I make it in an 8×8 pan and use a convection toaster oven to bake. It works great! You can use the same time and temperature if you’re using a conventional oven.
You can see the recipe for Bobby Flay’s multi-cheese (with roasted red pepper sauce) eggplant parm here and the more traditional version that Italian deli owner Dave Grecco made here. And, here’s mine…
EGGPLANT PARMESAN (serves 4)
1 purple eggplant
2 cups tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)
1 ball mozzarella cheese, freshly grated (about 1 to 1/2 cups)
2 slices toast
2 TBL flour
1 TBL dried thyme
1 TBL dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg, whisked
olive oil and butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
fresh chopped basil
(if you’re using a conventional oven, preheat it to 400 degrees.)
1. Make your breadcrumbs: add the toast, flour, herbs, and garlic powder into a small food processor and pulse until you have small crumbs. Pour the crumbs onto a plate. Put the egg on another plate.
2. Slice the eggplant into rounds. I leave the skins on but you can remove them if you like.
3. Coat the eggplant rounds in the egg, then dredge through the breadcrumbs.
4. Heat a medium saute pan or flat cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add 1 TBL of olive oil and 1 TBL of butter. The oil will lower the burning temperature of the butter and keep it from browning. Make sure you have enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan, if not add more olive oil. Brown the eggplant rounds in the pan, about 1 minute on each side. Make sure you add more butter and oil for each batch of rounds.
5. Grease a glass or metal 8×8″ pan. Add 1/3 of the sauce, 1/2 of the rounds, another 1/3 of sauce, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, then the rest of the rounds, the rest of the sauce, and the rest of the cheese. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.
6. Bake in a convection toaster oven or regular oven for 30 to 35 minutes on 400 degrees. Sprinkle with basil.
Serve with additional sauce over pasta and a green salad for a dinner, or tuck between two slices of toasted Italian bread for a sandwich.
Prep time: 30 min Cleanup time: about 10 min
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