Monday, March 03, 2008

Eggplant-Zucchini Parmesan

It's alive! Well, I'm alive. And what a feeling it is, after feeling so cruddy for so long. And hey, I lost that annoying five pounds that had been bugging me! So naturally, the first thing I did once I started feeling better was to start cooking again! Friday it was Vietnamese spring rolls, and Sunday it was salmon burgers, with a trip to Mangia Mangia in between. Man, have I eaten well. The perfect antidote to a solid week of not being able to keep anything down.

Tonight, I made the most delicious eggplant-zucchini Parmesan, and would you believe I made it with..... ALMOND CHEESE?! That's right folks, it was made with fake mozzarella, and supplemented w/ real Parmesan, and WOW, was it good. See, I'm still hacking up bits of my lungs, and if I'd slathered this dish entirely in REAL dairy cheese, it would just mean more hacking. So I tried something that my lovely sweetheart recently turned me on to: almond cheese! Would you believe I laughed at him when he first told me about it? Well, I'm eating that laughter now because tonight's dinner was unbelievably good, so good that I have to share the recipe. This recipe was adapted from several different sources that I found on the web, the main one being Simply Recipes.

- Approximately 1 lb. eggplant and 1 lb. zucchini
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (I made my own w/ sprouted wheat bread)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3 or 4 eggs
- Around 3 cups of the tomato sauce of your choice - I used Williams-Sonoma Vodka Tomato sauce - yum!
- 1 package almond cheese, mozzarella style - cut into 1/2 inch squares
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Around 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- Oil for frying the eggplant and zucchini

First, cut the eggplant into rounds and salt it generously. Layer the slices in a colander and weight it down with a heavy plate. Let it drain like this for around 2 hours. Yes, this will require some advance planning but it's totally worth it because it will make the eggplant so tender and delectable!

Meanwhile, cut the zucchini into slices on the diagonal and try to get them to be close to the size of the eggplant slices.

Next, place 1/2 cup of the breadcrumbs and the flour into a shallow bowl and mix it up, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Beat the eggs into a separate dish.

Once the eggplant has finished draining, press the slices onto paper towels to extract any remaining moisture.

Now you'll want to heat a generous amount of olive oil in a skillet, and dip the eggplant slices first into the egg, and then coat both sides with the flour-breadcrumb mixture. Drop the slices into the pan when the oil is shimmering, and fry on each side until golden brown. This should take a couple minutes on each side. Place the slices onto a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Do the same thing with the zucchini slices. You will need to add fresh oil to the pan along the way, to make sure the vegetables don't burn.

Once you've fried all the vegetables, you're ready to assemble the dish. Coat the bottom of your casserole dish with a generous amount of sauce, and while you're at it, pre-heat your oven to 350.

Now place your slices of eggplant and zucchini, alternating them side by side until you've completed one layer. Top each slice with a square of mozzarella, sprinkle Parmesan all over it, and top each slice with a basil leaf. Now repeat with another layer. Pour more sauce over the top layer, and top with more Parmesan and the remaining half cup of breadcrumbs.

Bake it at 350 for around 25-30 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden brown. Then take it out and let it sit for 10 minutes or so before serving. Inhale it, and watch the pounds slowly creep back...

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