Ah, Valentine’s Day! Whether you love it or hate it, there is one rallying cry we can all get behind on February 14th: today is a day for good food!
I started this morning bright and early by cooking up my take on steak frites with wee little hand pies for dessert on CTV’s Your Morning (check out these recipes and the video for the segment here!) and have been hemming and hawing about what to make for dinner tonight ever since.
So, for our first Valentine’s as a married duo, I’ve decided on something that’s quick, easy, and mutually adored by both Aaron and I alike. We’re about to dive into some rich, meaty, and cheesy Roasted Eggplant Parmesan!
Purists may scoff but this is my go-to version of eggplant parm. No, it is not dredged in bread crumbs. No, it is not fried. Yes, it is delicious. And to be honest, without the dredge, I’ll feel a little less gluttonous adding copious showers of extra Parmesan cheese while sharing this meal with my beloved.
Roasted Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 2 (with some leftover for lunch)
1 medium eggplant
1 tsp kosher salt
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups quick and classic tomato sauce (or your favourite store bought tomato sauce)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 slices of fresh mozzarella or, if you’re feeling nontraditional, some goat Gouda (half the thickness of the eggplant slices and about the same size around)
Fresh basil to garnish, optional
Parmesan frico to garnish, optional (recipe follows)
Preheat your oven to 375F, line one cookie sheet with tin foil, and another with a layer of paper towel.
For the eggplant, trim off the top and bottom and slice into 1 cm disks. This should give you about 15 slices but more or less is fine. Place the slices in a single layer on the paper towel lined cookie sheet and evenly sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. This will draw out some of the moisture and bitterness from the eggplant and give it a super lovely texture.
Allow the salted eggplant to sit for about 20 minutes while you gently heat the tomato sauce, finely grate the Parmesan cheese, and slice the mozzarella (or goat Gouda if you’re like me and that’s all you have on hand).
Pat the eggplant dry with another piece of paper towel and coat the foil lined cookie sheet with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the sheet and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and pop the eggplant into your preheated oven for 20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through.
Remove the eggplant from your oven and top each with 1 – 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce and evenly sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. At this point, the eggplant slices should look almost like little pizzas!
Choose the three prettiest pieces of eggplant and top each with a slice of mozzarella (or Gouda). Pop the whole thing back into the oven and cook until the cheese is perfectly melted and maybe a bit golden. If you’re in a rush or just want some crispy bits of cheese, throw on the broiler but be sure to keep your eyes and nose on alert – burnt cheese is rarely if ever a good thing.
To serve, dollop some sauce down onto your plates and stack 5 or so of the roasted eggplant slices on top, making sure to finish with the super cheesy mozzarella layer. Toss some fresh basil on there as well as some freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Parmesan frico and share with your honey.
¼ cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Scatter the Parmesan cheese onto the centre of the parchment paper, making sure that the cheese stays concentrated in one even and thinly spread layer.
Bake for 5 – 8 minutes or until melted and just slightly brown. Be careful not to over brown the cheese because it. will. taste. awful.
Remove the parchment from the hot cookie sheet and allow the frico to cool completely. Break apart and serve as wispy little crackers or on anything that is made better by Parmesan cheese (hint: roasted eggplant parm)!