Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

My dad’s wife is a phenomenal cook. Like me, she is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, so she likes to keep things healthy. As an Italian family and lovers of Italian food, it’s hard to steer away from oily dishes like lasagna and eggplant parmesan, but she found a great alternative to one of the classics here. She changes up the original recipe by mixing up heirloom and cherry tomatoes and adding some extra panko (like breadcrumbs). For me, she makes a batch without the cheese and it’s still incredible!

-1 large eggplant, sliced into super thin rounds
-3/4 tspn sea salt
-1/4 tspn black pepper
-3/4 cup olive oil, more for drizzling
-5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
-2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
-2 cups heirloom tomatoes, smashed
-4 sprigs fresh oregano
-3 sprigs fresh basil
-5 tblspns grated parmesan cheese
-1/4 cup panko
-1/3 cup ricotta cheese
-5 large basil leaves

-Prepare the eggplant by sprinkling with about 1/2 tspn salt
-Let eggplant stand in a colander for about 20 minutes to dry out
-Pat dry, and season with salt and pepper
-Heat some of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat
-Cook eggplant, without stirring for about about 4 minutes or until golden
-Flip and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes (Cook in a single layer, in batches)
-Drain eggplant on paper towels and repeat the process until all the eggplant is cooked.
-Turn heat down to medium, add 3 tblspns of oil and add 4 garlic cloves
-Cook until golden, about 2 minutes
-Add tomatoes and oregano
-Cook, breaking up the tomatoes, until they start form a sauce, about 15 minutes
-Add basil and 4 tblspns Parmesan; simmer 5 minutes more
-Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat and add 1 tblspn olive oil
-Mince the remaining garlic and add to the skillet, along with the bread crumbs
-Toast, stirring, until bread crumbs just start to brown, about 2 minutes
-Remove from heat and stir in 1 tblspn Parmesan; season with a pinch of salt
-To serve, arrange eggplant on a large platter and spoon dollops of ricotta on top
-Then top with sauce; scatter bread crumb mixture over sauce, garnish with basil leaves, then drizzle with olive oil.

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