When planning this weeks’ meals I was a bit tight on cash flow so I had a pretty small budget to work with. I checked my vegetable drawer and to my pleasant surprise I still had a perfectly usable eggplant from last Saturday’s trip to the Headhouse Farmer’s Market. I didn’t have much to work with, but I did have some left over jarred sauce. With a quick run to the supermarket for some staples, I picked up a small container of  ricotta cheese and got ready to make one of my favorite, good ‘ole reliable meals, Eggplant Parmesan.

I have tried a few different recipes over the years and each one has had it’s own amount of success. The first time I tried it, I totally batched the whole meal, disappointing myself and my whole family. I tried again with a quicker and easier recipe, which was good but didn’t really taste like the classic that we all know and love.

I found a recipe in one of my roommate’s cookbooks, called “Starting Out: The Essential Guide to Cooking on Your Own,” by Julie Van Rosendall. It’s an excellent cookbook that takes the first-time cook step-by-step through what kind of utensils and appliances you should own, what essentials you should have in your pantry/fridge, and how to use your leftovers after you cook your meal. It’s also broken up into very specific categories, such as breakfasts, soups, salads, stews, chicken, beans, grains, potatoes, quick breads, etc. It makes finding a specific recipe for something that you’re not familiar with really easy.

starting out

The eggplant parm, or “Eggplant Parmigiana” recipe is as follows:

all-purpose flour for dredging
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs or panko
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 small eggplants
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
1-2 cups tomato, marinara, or spaghetti sauce
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Take out three shallow bowls and put the flour in one, the eggs in another, and combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan in the third.

Slice the eggplants about 1/2 inch thick and sprinkle with salt and papper.

Drizzle a large rimmed baking sheet with oil or spray it well with non-stick spray. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in  alarge skillet set over medium-high heat. Dregde the eggplant slices in flour to coat them, and dip them first into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture, pressing the cumbs to help them adhere. Place the crumbled slices into the hot skillet and cook them for about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Cook only a few slices at a time, then transfer them to the oiled sheet when they’re done.

Spread 2 tablespoons of ricotta over each slice of the eggplant, then drizzle tomato sauce over the whole thing, and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake the eggplant parmigiana for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

I used one small eggplant, but followed the rest of the recipe as written. I topped the eggplants with grated Parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella because it was what I had on hand. Simple and not very messy, this is a very easy and delicious meal.

Also, I apologize for not posting pictures. I had a mishap with my camera this week and will be without one at least until the end of August, sadly. Please keep reading and try to imagine each meal as I post them. Your imagination might even be better than my own photos. And look forward to better photo quality come August. Sorry for the inconvenience.