Easy Fried Eggplants with Pasta

Being a vegetarian is tough sometimes. It can be so hard to go to a friends house for dinner, and the menu is BBQ. You don’t want to impose and ask them to make you something vegetarian, and you always feel a little awkward bringing your own meal. I’ve found that a lot of omnivores assume that vegetarians just eat salads and bread. Don’t get me wrong I love salad and I love bread but there are so many other options!

Recently I have been experimenting with vegan recipes, but tonight I was craving something heavy because I was so busy at work that I forgot to eat lunch.

My sister makes a delicious eggplant Parmesan dish, I would always try to duplicate it, and it never tasted as good. I never liked eggplant until I ate hers for the first time. So I changed the recipe a little bit to make it easier, and it still isn’t as good as hers, but its pretty close.

My favorite part of this recipe is pressing the eggplants before you start. It always makes me think of a bunch of old Italian ladies in the kitchen gossiping about their husbands. In fact, that is one of my favorite things about cooking, I have a big Italian family on my mom’s side and we frequently can be found in the kitchen doing just that.

This recipe can be modified many ways, but this is typically the way I make it except for the tomatoes, usually I use cherry tomatoes and slice them in half. (I apologize for my awful iPhone photos)

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1/2 cup of olive oil

1 cup bread crumbs

2 eggs

1 large eggplant

2 tsp italian seasoning

4 tbs parmesan (grated)

1 8oz mozzarella ball

1/2 small tomato

fresh basil

1 box pasta

marinara sauce

salt

 

Prep: Cut the eggplant into round slices 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Take a paper towel and press them between the folded paper towel to get some excess water out. Layer them on a plate with a paper towel underneath, in between the layers and on top. Sprinkle salt on each layer to help draw the water out. Then put something heavy (I use a stack of plates) on the top and let them sit for at least 30 minutes.

After the eggplants have been sitting for awhile, press them one more time with the paper towel to get any more excess water out. Then they are ready to cook.

Pour the olive oil into a medium size skillet, over medium high heat (you might have to add a little more oil as you go the eggplants will kind of soak it up). While the oil is heating up, mix the 2 eggs in one bowl, and pour the bread crumbs into a separate bowl with the Italian seasoning and 2 tbs. of Parmesan and mix it up. Now, take each eggplant and dip it first in the egg batter and then into the bread crumb mix. Then plop into the oil to fry. I usually let the eggplants sit in the oil for a couple minutes on each side until they look crunchy and golden brown. As you take them out of the oil lay them onto a baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Once you have the all of the fried eggplants on the baking tray, take the mozzarella and slice into as many pieces as you have eggplant slices. Lay one piece on each eggplant, followed by a basil leaf and a piece of tomato on top and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top. Now bake it for about 20 minutes or until the mozzarella just starts to brown. And then enjoy with your favorite pasta and sauce.IMG_7617