Okay so I love eggplant parmesan, fried crispy eggplant, tons of dripping cheese, but I am not eating like that anymore and unless it’s a special occasion and I am splurging a bit, I want to be able to have a version of this dish I can feel good about!I had some friends over and it got the thumbs up and folks even wanted doggie bags for lunch the next day…so I am guessing they were not just being nice!
2 eggplants (sliced to about 1/2 inch rounds) – you can peel them or not your choice, I run a peeler down them and strip them so some skin is on but it’s not all of the skin.
2 cups panko (japanese breadcrumbs)
1 egg + 1 egg white beaten
2 large balls fresh mozzarella ( I like buffalo if you can get it)
1 + 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
3 tbs milk(1% or skim or whatever you have)
olive oil+ spray bottle or olive oil pam
3 cups of spinach, cleaned and stemmed
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce – I am using a great organic no sugar one from whole foods.
fresh sweet basil (if desired)
Eggplant – maybe it’s just because my grandma did this technique and then my mom did it, so of course I do it too! I find eggplant bitter unless you take the time to do this step. Feel free to skip it if you cook with eggplant and don’t find it necessary. This is what I do….
In a colander placed over a pot (so the drippings are caught) I layer the eggplant and sprinkle a little salt over each layer. Repeat then when all eggplant is stacked I put a paper towel down and a heavy weigh on top. ( I use a 1/2 of a brick wrapped well in foil for this purpose) I let this sit for at least an hour sometimes 2…..at the end you will have liquid in the bottom of the catch pot…disguard this liquid.
Once that is done you are ready to bake the eggplant, I dredge the egglant in egg wash then into the panko bread crumbs then place onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil. You can either add Olive Oil to a cooking spray bottle or use olive oil pam. Once all eggplant is on cookie sheet(s) spray tops with olive oil and put in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Check on it after 12-15 minuets. When they look crunchy they are done. Set aside
In a bowl mix ricotta cheese, pinch of salt, pepper, an milk and beat with a spoon till creamy.
In a casserole dish layer a little marinara sauce, then eggplant then ricotta mixture, then spinach, then more eggplant, then more marinara sauce then top with fresh mozzarella, you can slice it into rounds or break it up by hand whichever you wish. You can also add a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese to make it cheesier if you desire.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes
You can top with fresh torn basil after it comes out of the oven.