Monday, June 13, 2011

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant
1 can diced tomatoes
1 jar pasta sauce
2 cups bread crumbs
3 eggs
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup sliced mushrooms
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
2 TBSP olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the eggplant crosswise in 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt and let them sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse off the salt and pat dry with a paper towel. This will remove excess water and bitterness.
Beat the eggs in a bowl. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, wetting both sides. Dip the eggplant in the bread crumbs, thoroughly coating the surface. Lay the breaded slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes on each side or until the bread crumbs are beginning to brown.
Saute the garlic and mushrooms in olive oil. Add the diced tomatoes and pasta sauce and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and add the chopped basil leaves.
Remove the eggplant from the oven and assemble the casserole. Place a layer of eggplant in the bottom of a medium size baking dish. Cover the slices with a layer of sauce then a layer of cheese. Repeat layers until the baking dish is full, ending with a layer of sauce and sprinkle cheese on top. Cover and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

Not too long ago, Rich kept asking me to buy eggplant whenever we would go to the store. I had never eaten eggplant that I could recall and I certainly had never cooked it before. I had no idea what to do with it and I was a bit intimidated by it. I went ahead and bought one and when I came home I began searching for recipes using eggplant. Somewhere online (I don't remember where) I stumbled across this one. Typically eggplant parmesan is fried and I liked that this was a healthier baked option. The first time I made it, it was a huge hit even with my picky 2 year old who doesn't like to eat his veggies. He cleaned his plate and had seconds, crazy. I thought it must have been a fluke but when we had it for left overs a few nights later he scarfed it down again. I did tweak the recipe a little bit to fit our tastes. We love mushrooms in everything so I added those and the fresh basil, both of which are absolutely delicious in this dish. I am now an eggplant lover! This is a really yummy recipe that tastes just as good left over as it does fresh.

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