By DAVID SPITZER
Special to the Saipan Tribune
1 1/4 hours to prepare (most of which is baking time).
This assumes the tomato sauce is already made.
Yield: at least 8 servings
Eggplant is highly absorbent, and when peeled, it soaks up oil like a sponge. Because it is usually fried for Eggplant Parmesan, this dish ends up being much heavier than it needs to be. Here is a way to prepare crispy eggplant without frying—I suppose you could call it the shake and bake method. It is easier and much neater than frying, in addition to being lighter and better for you—and all those things you are possibly tired of hearing about. But people seem not to get tired of thimgs tasting good, and this does taste really good.
2 medium eggplants (about 7 inches long)
3/4 cup milk (more, as needed)
2 cups fine bread crumbs or wheat germ (or a combination)
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp each: oregano and thyme
1 batch Italian Tomato sauce
1 lb mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced or grated
parmesan cheese—about 1/2 cup (amount=flexible)
1) Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a baking tray and a 9×13” pan.
2) Cut the eggplants into 1/2” thick. Place the milk in a shallow bowl; combine breadcrumbs (wheat germ) with herbs on a plate. Dip each eggplant slice in the milk, moistening both sides, then coat it thoroughly with the crumb mixture. Spread the prepared slices on the baking tray and the pan, and bake until tender (about 20 to 30 minutes). Remove from oven, and pile them gently on the baking tray.
3) Without cleaning the 9×13” pan, ladle some tomato sauce into the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant slices, and cover with more sauce. Arrange some mozzarella over the sauce, then repeat the layering until you run out of something or you run out of room, whichever comes first. Generously sprinkle the top with parmesan.
4) Bake uncovered at 375°F for about 40 minutes, or until heated through and bubbly around the edges. Remove from oven and let sit about 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot or warm.
David Spitzer is the Executive Chef of the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.