vegetarian delight

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looks like heaven right? it is. and SOME people think that you have to have meat to make a meal complete. (I am such a poet) and you may think that I’m one of those people seeing as how you are sitting here reading a blog called beauty and THE BUTCHER. but I don’t always have to support my husbands profession to make a delicious meal. and the lovely eggplant is one of those vegetables that just feels “meaty”. I suppose you could even make this vegan if you used vegan ricotta cheese. so I know your mouth is watering at this point so let’s get this recipe started. here’s what you’ll need…

1 eggplant (try to get one that’s roughly the same size all the way down-more like a man less like a woman!)

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs (this is a very important step and if you’ve never used panko before they are Japanese breadcrumbs that are larger crumbs and much crispier, I like this brand-they are available at most grocery stores alongside the other bread crumbs. I like to use seasoned bread crumbs because they have a nice assortment of Italian seasoning in them but if you use plain just be sure to sprinkle some parsley, oregano, and basil into the mixture.

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

salt & pepper

olive oil

2 eggs beaten

whole milk ricotta cheese

marinara sauce

Peel eggplant and slice into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Place bread crumbs, parmesan, and a little S&P into one bowl and set aside. Next to that set the bowl of eggs and then a dry plate for your breaded eggplant. Dredge a slice at a time into the eggs letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Then with your other hand (this is CRUCIAL always keep one hand dry and egg free and once you place the eggplant into the breadcrumbs try not to touch it but rather scoop the crumbs over it until its coated and no longer wet) dip it into the breadcrumbs making sure its covered well. Transfer to empty plate and repeat until all slices are breaded. You may need more bread crumbs and eggs depending on the size of the eggplant or you may be like me and get tired of doing it halfway through so you decide you have enough and the rest of the eggplant can be used for something else! Heat olive oil in skillet on medium high heat, you’ll need a good amount to cover the pan but not enough for the eggplant to be fully submerged, you will be flipping them. To test the oil I always throw in a single breadcrumb and if it sizzles and rises to the top then you’re, as the butcher says, G2G (good to go). Fry several at a time depending on the size of the rounds but be careful no to overcrowd the pan as this will cool down the temp of the oil too much and you will get soggy eggplant! When eggplant is golden brown flip and repeat on the other side then transfer to a cooling rack over a baking sheet. This will keep the eggplant crispy and allow air to circulate all the way around. Meanwhile heat up some of your favorite marinara in a small saucepan for dipping. To assemble, place a slice of eggplant on the plate, spread a thin layer of ricotta on top, spoon some hot marinara over the cheese and top with another eggplant. The butcher likes to repeat this step several times and make a huge leaning tower of eggplant but that’s up to you, I say why NOT play with your food!

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