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Instant Parma

Quick eggplant parmesan all winter long

Ari LeVaux, More Content Now | 11/17/2017, 6 a.m.
I have an eggplant Parmesan recipe that’s mostly local, even in the middle of winter, and so quick and easy ...
The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for it to cool down enough that it doesn’t burn your mouth. Ari Levaux

I have an eggplant Parmesan recipe that’s mostly local, even in the middle of winter, and so quick and easy to prepare it could qualify as fast food.

Like many of my recipes, this one arose from having seasonal abundance of certain ingredients on my hands. In this case, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini. For years, I solved this puzzle by making massive quantities of ratatouille, so much that I actually found myself needing to take a little break from that. So now, I make breaded cutlets of the eggplant and zucchini, and oven tomato sauce. This sauce, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, also includes seasonal ingredients like onions, garlic and small amounts of zucchini.

Today we focus on the cutlets. If you have breaded cutlets in the freezer, it’s easy to come up with tomato sauce, one way or another. And if you don’t have tomato sauce and eggplant or zucchini cutlets squirreled away, then guess what? Now is the ideal time to get on it.

The recipe, basically, is to layer cutlets of breaded eggplant and zucchini in between layers of tomato sauce, along with cheese (provolone or mozzarella, ideally), fresh garlic (grated, pressed or pounded) and maybe some fresh veggies like spinach, basil, sweet peppers, tomatoes and so on. Sometimes I include some greasy, crispy, browned burger, or shards of rotisserie chicken.

If your tomato sauce is thick, like my oven-roasted tomato sauce is, dilute it with water to make it the consistency of store-bought marinara. And if you don’t have any homemade tomato sauce, buy a jar.

The whole thing takes like 10 minutes to put together. Then you bake it at 400 for an hour. Garnish with raw onions and hot pickled peppers. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool down enough that it doesn’t burn your mouth.

The other hardest part is making those cutlets. So here we go:

n Slice the eggplant or zucchini about a half-inch thick or less, keeping the thickness as consistent as possible.

n Place the slices in a big tray or bowl, sprinkling salt between the layers. The salt pulls out the water, shrinking the slices and making them more pliable and accepting of breading. Lay them in such a way that they will easily drain. Overnight in the fridge is best.

Then, set up your typical three-stage breading assembly line:

n In a big bowl, mix flour with paprika, garlic powder, nutmeg, black pepper, thyme and anything else you think will taste good. I lay off the salt, as the eggplant/zucchini have absorbed quite a bit. For a cup of flour, which will coat about two eggplants or similar-sized zucchini, add a teaspoon or so of each spice and see how it tastes. Toss your slices in the seasoned flour until all coated.

n The second bowl, which contains the egg wash, doesn’t have to be as large. Beat an egg with a ∑ cup of cream. I also add a large tablespoon of Vegenaise. Beat until smooth. Using tongs, or a dedicated hand, submerge each piece in the egg wash, then hold it up for a moment while the excess drains off.