Eggplants. You either love ’em or you hate ’em. I have never met someone who “kind-of” likes eggplant. It’s either yes or no. Some people just aren’t willing to try them and those people usually fall on the “hate ’em” side of the scale. I, personally, love eggplant as long as it’s not bitter. So that poses the question: how do you make an eggplant taste less bitter? By default, male eggplant tends to be less bitter than female (that seems to be true when it comes to humans, too). The method to completely remove the bitterness from said eggplant is by “sweating” it out. The way I was taught to do this is by placing the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle it with salt, place paper towels on top, and place a heavy item on top of the paper towels. Let the eggplant sit and sweat for about an hour (if only exercising was this easy) and the liquid that comes out is the bitterness you just removed. Got it? Good. Below is my recipe for eggplant parmesan…With a not-so-bitter eggplant.
- 2 whole eggplants, thinly-sliced, bitterness sweated out (preferably male)
- water to dunk the eggplant slices into before the breadcrumbs
- breadcrumbs (I always use homemade but you can use store-bought if that’s your thing)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- tomato sauce (I use homemade because jar sauce is gross)
- 1 8oz. package of low-fat mozzarella
- parmesan or romano (whichever you prefer) cheese to sprinkle on top
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare a deep baking pan with olive oil spray (Pam makes a great one that allows you to also spray the sides of the pan so nothing sticks).
- Dunk eggplant slices into water and roll each slice in breadcrumbs. Make sure both sides of each slice are covered in breadcrumbs. You might need to “push” this into the eggplant a bit so it sticks. Sprinkle salt and pepper onto each slice.
- Line the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce.
- Work in layers, starting with a layer of eggplant (over the sauce you put in the pan in the previous step), followed by more sauce, followed by mozzarella. Repeat all layers, ending with a top layer of mozzarella. You should see almost all mozzarella before you pop this baby into the oven.
- Sprinkle with parmesan or romano cheese on top.
- Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow the parmesan to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
For my first parmesan, I have to say this came out pretty good! The eggplant wasn’t bitter whatsoever. The homemade sauce (recipe for that coming shortly) really brought everything together. As always, cheese added a nice burst of flavor (and who doesn’t love cheese, anyway?). This is super simple to put together if you make sure to sweat out those eggplants and use the right kind of sauce (homemade but I’ll only judge you ever so slightly if you decide to go with store-bought).