Eggplant Parmesan

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Recently I was reminiscing with my closest college friend when she mentioned the first meal I cooked for her, eggplant parmesan.  When we first met we spent plenty of time in social settings, but this meal was around the time we started to become true friends.  I don’t remember the style of eggplant I made or even what the final result looked like but apparently my meal made an impression for her to remember it 10+ years later.  I love how food can bring people together.  Even though I grew up within a cooking household I didn’t love to cook until I was a few years into college.  But once the cooking bug took hold I loved it and would make large batches of food to share with my friends.  My style of cooking has evolved quite a bit from those days but I still cherish these memories as it was the start of my cooking adventures.

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Since that phone call eggplant parmesan has been on my brain.  I knew I wanted to make a healthier version, one without breadcrumbs and one that wasn’t fried.  My first thought was to grill.  I love grilled eggplant but since it’s been snowing all week there was no chance for using a grill, so I opted to roast the eggplant instead.  It turned out perfect.  Yes perfect.  Better than it would have been if it was fried or grilled.  The eggplant was tender in a melt in your mouth kind of way.  As I cooked this meal and ate this meal I was thinking of my beautiful friend Melissa.  I wished she was near to enjoy it with me.  Mama I dedicate this recipe to you.

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Eggplant Parmesan

  • 2 large eggplants
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried chopped rosemary
  • pepper
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • jar of marinara sauce, my favorite is san marzano tomato basil sauce
  • 1/3 cup castelvetrano olives, sliced in half (or any other olive variety)
  • box of spaghetti, I used Jovial brown rice
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  1. First salt the eggplant.  Since eggplant skin can be tough I peeled some of it off in stripes lengthwise around the eggplant.  Chop into 1″ rounds.  Salt each piece liberally and place in a colander.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  Rinse the eggplant well, lightly squeeze out some of the water, and dry the rounds in a towel.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°.
  3. In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic salt, dried rosemary, and a bit of fresh ground pepper.  Brush all sides of the eggplant slices with a thin coat of the olive oil mixture and lay in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and tender.  Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package until just al dente, the pasta is going to be baked so you want it slightly undercooked.  Rinse to stop cooking.
  5. In a saucepan heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and add the onion cooking over medium heat until translucent and slightly browned.  Add the jar of sauce and the olives.  I chose the castelvetrano variety because they are crisp, meaty, and light in flavor.  Plus they are bright green and I love their color.
  6. Place the pasta in a 3qt pyrex dish.  Add about half the sauce and toss.  You want the pasta to be well coated but not soaked in sauce.  Next add in the eggplant slices in a single layer, I had to squish mine in a bit.  Top each slice with a spoonful of sauce and lastly layer on the mozzarella slices.
  7. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes until warmed through and broil a few minutes more to brown the cheese.

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