Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eggplant Bake

This year's Thanksgiving attendees included myself, a pescetarian, and my cousin's boyfriend, a vegetarian. Since Thanksgiving dinner was a potluck, I had the task of finding a substantial vegetarian main course. I knew in advance that my cousin's boyfriend was making Butternut Squash Lasagna, so I wanted to stay away from pasta dishes that I thought may be too similar to his lasagna.

With the positive reviews from both vegetarians and omnivores on the All Recipes submission for Eggplant Bake, I had found my vegetarian Thanksgiving contribution! The trouble was that I had never made this dish, so I didn't know how it tasted and didn't know how much work would go into making this dish.

Thus I began my eggplant adventure.

I began by salting the eggplant slices for 30 minutes and then rinsed them to draw out moisture and bitterness. I only made half of the recipe since this was a trial that only Devin and I would be eating.

This recipe is quite easy, except I chose to make my own Italian breadcrumbs by using store bought sourdough bread and both fresh and dried herbs. I baked slices of the sourdough at 250 degrees for 30 minutes and then allowed the slices to cool. Since I don't have a food processor, I used a rolling pin to crush the slices into crumbs. During this process, I learned that I need to cut the bread slices thinner to prevent large pieces of bread that refuse to crumble and to use a blender to crush the bread when I made the recipe again the next day.

The fresh herbs included sage, rosemary, parsley, and marjoram. I also used dried basil, dried oregano, crushed garlic, and cracked pepper.

Combining the breadcrumbs with the herbs.

Beaten egg to adhere the breadcrumbs to the eggplant slices.

The large pieces of breadcrumb proved to be a problem because they had trouble sticking to the eggplant and also resulted in uneven browning when I pan-fried the eggplant.

Sliced tomatoes to layer on top of the eggplant.

I altered the recipe by sauteing the onions before layering them in the baking dish. This gave the onions a mild and sweet taste.

I used as little olive oil as possible to fry the breaded eggplant, but this resulted in some eggplant slices being too hard and tough even after baking.

Letting the fried eggplant drain excess oil onto paper towels.

Layered from the bottom was the breaded and fried eggplant, tomato slices, sauted onions, shredded parmesan cheese, crumbled feta, and strips of Muenster cheese. The dish was then baked for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

I thought the dish would be dry, but the tomatoes provided moisture and the cheeses really made the dish taste great. Devin's only other taste of eggplant has been eggplant parmesan and he really enjoyed this dish, so I decided to use this recipe for Thanksgiving. I did do one more trial run the next day, just to perfect my process.


Rebecca said...

This is awesome. I am always looking for recipes that are easy and incorporate vegetables. The detailed explanation and images are very helpful. I plan on using this recipe next week.

Alyssa said...

rebecca: The great thing about the All Recipes site is that you can enter in the ingredients you have on hand and it will find recipes which use those ingredients. It's called "Ingredient Search" under the "More Searches" tab.

I'm sure this recipe would be fine using store bought Italian breadcrumbs, so I highly advise you do so, as most of the work I did for this recipe were just for the breadcrumbs!