|Eggplant Parmesan in a Cast Iron Skillet|
Eggplants seem unnaturally lightweight for their size—which is part of what makes them such a versatile main ingredient. Unlike outwardly similar vegetables like cucumbers, squashes, and zucchinis, eggplants are not saturated with water. This airiness allows eggplants to soak up lots of oil during cooking, which is part of why they seem so meaty and rich.
This is a one-skillet recipe, and takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes start to finish. I use gluten free bread to make my breadcrumbs, but you can use regular bread/crumbs if you don't mind the wheat. I don't peel the eggplants since I enjoy the skin, but you can peel them if you prefer. I'd recommend not using extra virgin olive oil since it can burn and add bitterness. Stick with regular olive oil (or even canola in a pinch).
- 1 large eggplant
- 3 slices Udi's gluten free sandwich bread, thoroughly toasted and cooled
- 1/3 cup gluten free flour
- black pepper
- granulated garlic
- onion powder
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 egg
- olive oil
- A batch of my Outstanding Marinara Sauce
You can make the marinara sauce while you're waiting. You can also toast the bread in preparation for making your breadcrumbs.
Once you've toasted the bread, let it cool to room temperature. Cooling the bread to room temperature after toasting is an important step, as it allows more moisture to escape from the bread (leaving you with crumbs rather than mush after a trip through the food processor).
Once cool, pulverize the toasted bread slices in a food processor. Once the bread has reached a fairly crumby texture, add 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese and give it a few more pulses until they are proper crumbs.
Taste the breading and re-season as necessary. The breading should taste good—not unlike how a well-flavored Italian herb and parmesan cracker might taste if you ate the crumbs. When in doubt, add more salt.
To make the dipping wash, beat one egg, and add to it 1/4 cup whole milk. Mix well.
Pre-heat your oven on 325 degrees F.
large cast iron skillet on medium heat, and wait 4-5 minutes for it to come up to heat.
When it's just starting to send up wisps of smoke, add a solid coating of olive oil, and begin breading the eggplant.
To bread the eggplant, pat the slices dry with a paper towel to soak up the water that was drawn out by the salt. Then dip eggplant slices in the egg wash—being sure to get full coverage.
Bread the slices thoroughly on all sides. Don't be afraid to use your fingers to get as much breading on each slice as possible.
Once the eggplant slices are browned on each side, put a generous dollop of Outstanding Marinara Sauce on top of each slice. Sprinkle each slice of eggplant with a respectable pile of parmesan cheese.
Place the skillet in the oven, and bake on 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.
I like to serve this dish right in the skillet for a nice presentation. Be sure to warn your guests of how hot the pan is.
This dish goes well with rice pilaf and caesar salad.