I’ve spent the last few days really reflecting on what it is I want to share with all of you through this blog. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of food bloggers out there. What makes me different from anyone else? I’m not a trained chef. I’m not a gourmet chef. I don’t specialize in gluten free, Paleo, sugar free, vegan, or vegetarian. So, who am I and what gift do I offer you?
As I pondered, I realized I want you to know that you can prepare amazing, nutritious, comforting food in your very own kitchen no matter what your cooking experience, the size of your kitchen, or the tools you have. I want to teach you that you can move outside the bounds of a recipe and make substitutions, find your own pallet and tastes. I want you to realize “convenience” is defined in many different ways. I want you to step outside your comfort zone from time to time and try something that might be more difficult or different. I want to share easy recipes, no fluff recipes, quick recipes, slightly more complex recipes, and fun recipes. I want to share my love of cooking for family and friends.
These same thoughts and feelings go with my other categories here at the Nest. I want you to know you can throw an amazing party, do crafts, and laugh at the hard days! We all have a creative gift inside of us. You may be stronger in one area than another and if that is the case we’ll find ways to make your weaknesses become your strengths! (I’m the Mom who hot glued her son’s merit badges on!)
More than anything, I want your “Nest” to be your very favorite place! I want it to be your family’s favorite place to be. I want to fill your tables with warm, comforting, and inviting meals! I want to help you make memories and bring joy to your day! I want my on-line Nest to be your second home! I hope in some small way I am doing just that.
So with that in mind I want to share my husbands favorite Italian dish! Just a warning… meatless dishes…yeah…not so much in this house! This is my very own interpretation of Eggplant Parmigiana. I realize that generally this dish is meatless. I make mine with a meat sauce BUT…you can make it meatless! (I will always let you know what you can “tweek” that won’t ruin a recipe I’m sharing. I’m also going to tell you how you can make it easier than the way I make it.)
This is not a hard recipe! It is a little more involved and time consuming but, it is SO worth it! My Eggplant Parmigiana is like no other…even if you don’t like eggplant…you’ll love this!
Let’s start with the sauce. You are going to brown one pound of ground beef. I added a little dried onion flake because I didn’t have a fresh onion. You can do either! There’s a big hit of minced garlic in there too!
Next, let’s add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce (gotta love those cans of tomatoes…keep’em coming!), water, sugar, spices and garlic.
Mix that all together, cover and let simmer about 45 minutes. Now, if you don’t want to hassle with making your own sauce crack open a bottle of store bought sauce and mix it together with your meat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes OR don’t add meat and just have a couple of bottles of your favorite sauce ready to go! (I’m easy like that!)
Let’s get started on the eggplant. I love eggplant! I get so excited when I start seeing rich deep purple in the markets this time of year! I think it’s one of those veggies people are scared of but, don’t be! They are our friends!
You are going to use a knife to trim the purple skin off the eggplant! Why? Because I don’t like it and it’s bitter! (This is all about me right? lol) I realize most chef’s leave it on for the color and I’m sure it has a million nutrients in it but, I don’t like it. So…off it goes! (It’s not like this a low fat dish…it’s a cardiologist nightmare!) I also don’t believe in “sweating” the eggplant. (Frankly, I’m a little sick of all the sweating going on around here right now! lol) That’s just one step we can toss aside. Now, slice it into 1/4 inch slices like so…
Next you are going to place a big fry skillet on your stove top and get that heating up with some oil. (Where does a fry pan with hot oil go? It goes on the back of the range so that little hands won’t reach up and grab it causing a horrible horrific accident! Please…with sugar on top!)
We are going to take our eggs and crack them into a shallow pie plate. Whip them up and add a tablespoon of water and whip again. Place your seasoned bread crumbs in another pie plate or shallow dish. First dip the eggplant into the egg wash and then into the crumbs. Making sure both sides are well coated.
Next you will carefully place them in the oil in your large fry pan. They will cook fairly quickly and should be tender when poked with a fork. Turn them as they begin to turn a golden brown. Once they are done cooking, place them on a paper towel lined plate so that the excess oil can drain off. Aren’t they beautiful?!
Your meat sauce should be done by now and the house should smell like little Italy! Your welcome! (hee, hee)
Now, it’s time to put it all together. You are going to want your grated mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and your Ricotta cheese handy dandy and ready to go! Place a layer of your breaded eggplant in the bottom of a casserole dish. You can cut some of the pieces up to fit into the bare spots. (A stray piece may end up in your mouth! Whatever works!)
Next drop the Ricotta cheese by the spoonful on top of the eggplant. Then sprinkle with Parmesan and a layer of mozzarella cheese.
Next spoon a layer of sauce on top of the cheese’s. Now you are going to repeat the entire process again. Layer of Eggplant, then ricotta, then Parmesan, mozzarella, and then sauce. Finish with another sprinkling of mozzarella. (Yes, I realize there is no picture of that final step…I got excited about eating it! Pictures were not on my mind…sorry! Epic fail!)
Pop it into the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees until the cheese is bubbly and melted! If you want your cheese a little brown place it under the broiler for a few minutes but, be sure to watch it!
I like to cut mine into squares. It makes serving easier.
The layers of breaded eggplant with the cheese and meat sauce is just out of this world! This is not something that is on the “weekly” menu planner, for calorie and cost sake, but it is straight up comfort food full of rich robust flavor. The eggplant is never bitter and it is never watery. It’s just down right delicious! It’s one of those “special” dishes that brings family together! I serve mine with cheesy garlic bread (We are already off the cheese scale here so we might as well keep on going!) and a nice healthy green salad to wash all the guilt down with!
The printable recipe is down below for ya’ll. I hope you love this dish as much as we do. Is it possible not to love? (wink, wink) Thanks for popping by!
This is an amazing flavorful Eggplant Parmigiana with a rich robust meat sauce, Ricotta cheese, Parmesan Cheese, and Mozzarella Cheese! This is a very flexible recipe. If you don't want to make a meat sauce you can just use 2 jars of your favorite store bought sauce or make the sauce above without using the meat. You could also brown the meat and add canned sauce to cut down on time. You also can leave out the Ricotta Cheese if you don't like it.
This is an amazing flavorful Eggplant Parmigiana with a rich robust meat sauce, Ricotta cheese, Parmesan Cheese, and Mozzarella Cheese!
This is a very flexible recipe. If you don't want to make a meat sauce you can just use 2 jars of your favorite store bought sauce or make the sauce above without using the meat. You could also brown the meat and add canned sauce to cut down on time. You also can leave out the Ricotta Cheese if you don't like it.