GINNA PARSONS: Co-worker’s gift inspires dinner

Last week, my co-worker Patsy Brumfield brought a basket of small eggplants from her garden to the Journal to share. I happily helped myself to five of them, along with a lone green bell pepper hiding in the bottom.
The only thing I could think of to make was Eggplant Parmesan, which I’d never done before. I went to cookinglight.com and found a lightened recipe that received five stars from readers.
I took their suggestions (like adding more pasta sauce than called for, and substituting cheeses for what you have on hand) and made the dish that night for supper. The recipe here includes the changes.
My meatless creation turned out very well – it was pretty and quite tasty. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is peel the eggplants. The recipe said to, but I skipped that step since these were fresh from the garden. Next time, I’ll know better.

Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
14 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 (1-pound) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into
12-inch-thick slices

Filling
12 cup torn fresh basil
14 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
12 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1
12 teaspoons minced garlic
14 teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Other
112 (24-ounce) jars pasta sauce
14 teaspoon salt
8 ounces thinly sliced Mozzarella or Provolone
34 cup finely grated Fontina or Gouda

To make eggplant, combine eggs and water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano in a second shallow dish. Dip eggplant in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking off excess. Place eggplant 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.
To make filling, combine basil, Parmigiano cheese, pepper, garlic, salt, ricotta and egg.
To assemble, spoon 3⁄4 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a 9×13-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Sprinkle eggplant with 1⁄8 teaspoon salt. Top with about 11⁄2 cups pasta sauce; spread half of ricotta mixture over sauce, and top with a third of mozzarella and 1⁄4 cup Fontina. Repeat layers once, ending with about 2 cups pasta sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil; top with remaining third of Mozzarella and 1⁄4 cup Fontina. Bake for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts; cool 10 minutes.
Makes 10 servings.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal