The other day the tot and I had a great time at the farmers market with a big whopping $10. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think we’d come home with much, but we actually found some fantastic fresh items ready to use for cooking up something yummy. I found an eggplant, a perfectly ripe heirloom tomato (which my husband thought looked a bit “sickly), fresh greens, and even some lovely flowers!
I even took a picture of my goodies:
While I gazed at my abundance, eggplant parmesan came popping into my head. But, who wants to deal with all that frying and stuff? Not I.
But, what if I dusted nice, thin strips in flour and baked them on a lightly oiled sheet pan?
So, this is what I did to create a healthy and super tasty version of eggplant parmesan:
Slice your eggplant into rounds or strips, whichever you prefer, about 1/4 inch thick. Place the slices in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon of salt. Cover the slices with 1-cup milk and 1-cup water and let hang out for at least 20-minutes. Eggplant can be bitter, so soaking them in this salty, milky concoction ensures they will be moist and tasty.
While the eggplant is relaxing, create the flour dusting with 1-cup flour, a couple of good shakes of pepper and salt, and any fresh or dried herbs you like. We had some fresh thyme, so I crumbled some in to the flour mixture. Place the dusting powder on a plate, which makes everything easier later.
Preheat your oven to 400 F. and get ready to make a mess. Coat the bottom of your sheet pan with a layer of vegetable oil (about 1 Tablespoon should do) and then slide a slice of eggplant out of its bath and then press both sides into the flour, shaking off the extra. You’re looking for a nice, thin coating, nothing too thick or gloopy.
Place the flour-dusted eggplant on the sheet pan and keep going until all the slices have been coated. Pop your pan into the hot oven and go have a glass of wine or something.
After about 10-15 minutes, your slices will be lovingly browned on one side and ready to be turned. Flip them over and prepare your topping.
Slice a fresh, ripe tomato thin, and then half the slices. Take out some mozzarella or Monterey jack cheese (we used Monterey for ours because I was fresh out of mozzarella) and also slice several thin strips.
Once the eggplant has roasted another 10-minutes or so, both sides should be wonderfully browned. If you want them toastier, keep baking. But, if you’re ready, top each slice of eggplant with a piece of tomato and then a slice of cheese and place back in the oven.
While that cheese is melting, finely slice a clove of garlic and sauté quickly with a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, just until wilted.
Take out the eggplant and begin layering the goodness on a plate and then top with the spinach. Give everything a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for extra flavor.