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Eggplant Parmesan

I know, I know, it’s another Parmesan recipe. And mine are all pretty much the same. I’m including this one because of the eggplant. It’s an easy dish. There is no salting and draining. You can reduce the ingredient amounts and use a smaller baking dish in order to serve fewer people. It’s simple to make adjustments.

Beat three eggs with 3-4 Tbsp. of water in a flat-bottomed pan, like the pie plate pictured here.

Scoop flour (about a cup) into a flat-bottomed pan like the pie plate pictured here.

Slice two medium eggplants lengthwise into apx. 1/4″ slices. (I used one large eggplant.)

Coat a griddle or large skillet with olive oil and heat on medium high.

Dredge a slice of eggplant through the flour, coating each side of eggplant.

Immerse eggplant slice in egg mixture.

Make sure each side of eggplant is covered with egg mixture.

Move the eggplant slice to the hot griddle.

Turn over once browned. Continue browning eggplant slices, adding olive oil as needed.

Once browned and softened, remove the eggplant slices to a paper-towel-lined plate. Stack the slices in layers on paper towels (to absorb extra oil). Let cool.

I use the whole eggplant, even with the peel on it. It doesn’t matter. As you can see, my slices are not uniform either. It really doesn’t matter.

In the meantime, while the eggplant slices are cooking, fry about a pound of Italian sausage. If you’re serving vegetarians you may skip this step.

Once the sausage is browned, add a jar of pasta sauce (about 24 ounces). I rinse the jar with red wine. Simmer until it is very thick.

Slice about a pound of mozzarella cheese. I like to use fresh mozzarella and this was only 12 ounces, but it was quite enough. I’ve also used shredded Mozzarella, it all works.

In a 9 x 13″ greased baking dish, layer 1/2 of the eggplant slices to cover the bottom of the dish. Like I said earlier, if you want to use a smaller eggplant and less of the other ingredients you could use a 9 x 9″ pan or smaller. This is really not fussy.

Layer 1/2 of the pasta sauce and 1/2 of the Mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with a bit of grated or shredded Parmesan cheese.

Layer the remaining eggplant slices on top.

Finish up with the remaining sauce and Mozzarella. Sprinkle the top with about 1/2 cup of grated or shredded Parmesan.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Serves about 6 people.

I served this with shrimp salad and garlic bread. Delicious!

Polenta is a good idea when you’re tired of the usual starchy dishes. It is basically corn meal mush allowed to firm up. It is then sliced and used as a base for sauce and/or cheese.

Polenta

4 cups water

1 cup polenta

Dash of salt

Bring water to a rolling boil and very slowly sprinkle polenta into the water while stirring all the while. Reduce the heat once it comes back to a boil. Continue stirring while the polenta simmers. As it thickens it begins to splatter. Once it’s fairly thick, it’s okay to leave it for a couple minutes at a time, so stir frequently instead of constantly. A spatter guard is a huge help. The process of simmering and stirring takes about 25 minutes. The polenta should be quite thick. Coat a 8×8″ square pan with olive oil and pour the polenta into it. Smooth out the top with a spatula as best you can. Once it’s cooled a little, place it into the refrigerator for an hour or longer.

Polenta is a much larger and rougher grind than corn meal. Here is one cup of polenta.

Stir constantly at first until the polenta absorbs the water evenly.

Once it starts to thicken you will want a spatter guard on it. You should stir frequently, instead of constantly.

Looks thick enough now. 25 minutes has elapsed.

Voila! Polenta.

I have to confess that I’ve never had polenta outside of what I’ve made myself in my own kitchen. I’m assuming I’ve done it right because it tastes good. I’ve seen prepared polenta in plastic tubes at the grocery. It looks like you would slice the tube into rounds and then assemble the dish that way. Someday I may try that.

Polenta Parmesan

Prepared polenta

Mozzarella

Favorite marinara-type sauce

Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded

Cut the 8×8″ pan of polenta into 9 squares. Lift out each square, turn it so you see the short side, and slice in half. Now you have eighteen slices, roughly the same size. Lay nine of the squares out on a baking dish (a 9×13″ will work, but another size might work better-see below) which has been coated with olive oil. Top each polenta square with a piece mozzarella, then sauce. Then top the sauce with another slice of polenta, cheese, and sauce. Sprinkle the whole thing with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Cut polenta into squares and lift out of the pan.

Here are the slices.

My sauce has BIG chunks of Italian sausage in it, so my little polenta stacks look a bit topsy-turvy. TASTES great. Doesn't present very well, though. Sigh. See what you can do. My nine polentas wouldn't fit in the pan so I split one in half, it's on the right side of the picture.

Just before it goes into the oven.

Finished.

Serve! Goes well with Eggplant au Gratin.