Do you ever walk through the grocery store or look at an ad, see something on sale, and have a moment of inspiration? That happened to me last week when I was combing the Bi-Lo add for sale items, I saw that eggplant was on sale for $1.00 each. Most people might not glance twice, but my brain thought, “eggplant parmesan.” I combed Pinterest for a good recipe (which included ingredients that I had on hand). This recipe is from Becky at thetwobiteclub.com, and it’s called “Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan.”
If you’ve never had eggplant parmesan, you might be skeptical. I’d venture to guess that the average American doesn’t eat eggplant very often. First off, it’s purple. Weird. Not many vegetables are purple. All I can think of off of the top of my head are “red” onions, purple cabbage, and purple potatoes. Okay so maybe there are a few purple vegetables. Anyway, the purple thing is weird. Also, why is it called “eggplant”? It does not look like an egg.
No matter, I love eggplant Parmesan. The idea that we get to eat cheese, pasta, red sauce, and breadcrumbs and then think that we’re “healthy” because there is eggplant buried in there is excellent. If you’ve never tried eggplant, this is a great way to try it. Eggplant parmesan is normally fried, but this recipe is a baked version so that cuts down on the fat too.
The first step of this recipe is to slice the eggplant, lay it out on paper towels, and sprinkle it with salt. (Thin is good if you like it crispy.) This process pulls more of the water out of the “meat” of the eggplant. I had never done this step before, but I really think it made the final product meaty and not mushy. Smart!
Next, you do a two-step egg wash then parmesan/breadcrumb layer. This part was pretty easy and was a similar process to coating fried chicken. We decided to use block parmesan cheese and grate it which was quite lovely, WAY better than store-bought grated parmesan.
After coating, the little eggplant guys get drizzled with olive oil and placed on a lined pan. Then they bake for about 25 minutes before they are topped with sauce and cheese and baked for 10 more minutes. Instead of baking them with the sauce and cheese on top, we broiled them to keep them as crispy as possible. Also, this process made the cheese that landed on the pan super crispy, and let me tell you that stuff is fantastic!
This recipe calls for jarred tomato sauce. In my book, this is a no-no. Not only is jarred tomato sauce full of extra preservatives and sugar, but it is also MUCH more expensive than making your own. Making your own tomato sauce is as simple as pureeing a can of diced tomatoes, adding onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt. You can even buy plain canned pureed tomatoes so you don’t have to blend. It’s healthier and cheaper. But I digress.
I decided to serve this recipe with a big salad and cooked spinach fettuccine noodles. Meat-free, low-cost, but super filling. We loved it! My husband was skeptical about eating eggplant, noodles, and vegetables for dinner, but he ended up getting super full and enjoying it all. It was also nice to realize that we got tons of veggies and vitamins (although yes, we ate a lot of cheese and noodles).
Time: About 1 hour to assemble and bake
Consensus: Delicious. We made our own sauce, but other than that we made no modifications and are looking forward to eating this meal again.
Difficulty Level: Medium, a multi-step process, but hard to mess up
- $1.00 Eggplant
- $0.30 2 Eggs
- $2.50 Panko Bread Crumbs
- $0.40 Grated Parmesan Cheese
- $1.00 Mozzarella
- $1.50 Homemade Sauce
- $0.15 Spices/Herbs
- $6.85 Total, I had all ingredients on hand except for the eggplant, so this meal cost me $1.00!
If you’re still skeptical, I encourage you to branch out and try something new. You might love it.
What’s the strangest food that you’ve ever tried and liked?