I made a discovery tonight! As part of the lead-up to Thanksgiving, I wanted eggplant parmesan (meatless, vegetable-based) without all the fat from the fried eggplant. (I also did not want to stand at the oven frying because certain people in my house need a lot of supervision right now.)
So instead of frying, I tried breading the eggplant slices and then roasting them in a very hot oven. It totally worked! The eggplant slices became soft but not mushy and they had a nice crisp, golden brown crust. Innovation!
(Incidentally, this recipe is a little time-consuming. I probably wouldn't have attempted it on a regular weeknight. Tonight it worked because I'm in the middle of grading papers right now and I knock off pretty early from that, otherwise I start seeing double and reading the same sentence seven times.)
Eggplant parmesan with tomato sauce
For the sauce:
Two 28-ounce cans of roma tomatoes
Two Tbsp olive oil
Two cloves of garlic, minced
One bunch fresh basil
In a food processor, puree the tomatoes, along with all the juice in the cans. Put the tomato puree and all the other ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.
For the eggplant parmesan:
One or two globe eggplants, about two pounds
2 tsp. kosher salt
Three eggs, beaten
One cup flour
One and a half cups plain dried bread crumbs
Half a cup grated parmesan cheese
One to two cups shredded mozzarella cheese, depending on how cheesy you like it.
Slice the eggplant crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Sprinkle kosher salt over the slices and place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Let them stand for about 30 minutes (for instance, while the sauce is cooking).
Preheat oven to 450. Bread the eggplant slices: dip each one first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. After each dip, shake off the excess. Place the breaded eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Roast for about 10 minutes, until the slices have turned golden.
Lower the oven to 350. Coat the bottom of a non-stick 9-by-13 pan with about one cup of tomato sauce. Top with a layer of eggplant. Top that with about a cup and a half of sauce, followed by 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Add a second layer of eggplant, followed by the rest of the sauce, 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, and finally the mozzarella. Bake about 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the sauce bubbles.