Dec 18, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

You want lasagna, but not the pasta. You want the heft, but not the meat. You want comfort without the guilt. Well, this may be a little guilty, but it's totally worth it! Feel free to "lighten" it up by using non-dairy cheeses like Daiya mozzarella shreds, and baking the eggplant instead of frying.

  • 2 medium purple eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs, pulsed in food processor until fine
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups AP flour1 cup vegetable or peanut oil for frying
  • 4 portobello mushrooms, gills and stems removed
  • 1 jar favorite marinara (I like Newman's Own)
  • 16 oz whipped cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon zest
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4" thick
  • 8 oz shredded fontina
  • 4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano

Begin by salting each of the sliced eggplant then placing in a large colander covered with a heavy pot to weigh down. Place in sink for 1-hour to drain.

Combine cottage cheese, basil, and lemon zest in bowl. Set aside.

Remove eggplant from colander and pat with paper towel to remove any extra salt and liquid. Dredge eggplant in flour, then egg, then panko and repeat with all slices of eggplant.

Meanwhile, set up dipping station by adding each the panko, flour, and eggs to 3 large wide bowls. No seasoning is necessary since the eggplant is already salted.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Roast mushrooms on baking sheet with rack top side up for 30 minutes. Cube and mix in with marinara. Set aside. Reduce oven to 375°F.

In small batches of oil (4 Tbs or so at a time), preheat shallow pot on medium heat. Test the temperature by dropping in a couple pieces of panko. Depending on the size of your pot and the eggplant, fry the eggplant 3-5 slices at a time. Flip after 1-2 minutes. Look for golden brown. Repeat with all remaining slices of eggplant. Set aside completed fried slices on baking sheet with rack.

Begin by layering the 1/3 of the fried eggplant on the bottom of 13x9 baking pan. Spoon over evenly all of the cottage cheese mixture, then 1/3 of the marinara and mushrooms. Repeat with another layer of the eggplant, fresh mozzarella slices, and another 1/3 of the sauce. Finish with remaining eggplant, sauce, fontina and Parm cheeses. Bake covered with foil 30 minutes, uncovered another 20. Lest rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8-10.

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