I tried, I really did...
Meatless Mondays and all that, vegetarian dishes... I even enjoy the compnay of a vegetarian friend or two on occasion. But honestly, I am just not a fan of vegetarian dishes that SCREAM, "I sure would be better with a little meat".
Like this Eggplant Parm.
Eggplant Parmesan really is a pretty simple dish. I zipped mine up just a bit with a secret ingredient I'll talk about in a second.
But really, Breaded fried eggplant, a jar of Marinara sauce, some grated Parmesan cheese (I am always amused when I see Eggplant Parmesan recipes that does not have Parmesan cheese... But I digress), and some mozzarella cheese for that gorgeous oozing melted texture.
Olive Tapenade! More specifically, O Olive Oil brand Meyer Lemon Tapenade! If you are lucky enough to find a store that stocks this, or smart enough to plan ahead and buy on-line, this is AMAZING stuff! Adds the punch of fresh olives, just ooozing with the flavors of Meyer lemons and Champagne Vinegar! If you are not able to find this luxury, some chopped olives, lemon juice and zest would substitute, but well... Just trust me, if you can, give the O Meyer lemon Tapenade a try.
OK, as to the dish, it is a classic Southern Italian staple. Shallow fried eggplant, covered with marinara sauce and oozing with cheese. Often times (modern times) you will see a chicken cutlet or veal used as a meat substitute for the original eggplant. But the dish was originally more of a peasant dish with readily available ingredients with the amount of cheese determining the luxuriousness of the dish.
I like my eggplant sliced fairly thick for this. Thick enough to still have a bit of a chew when served. I have seen the slices as a thin as a lasagna noodle. But by the time these are fried and then baked, generally the eggplant is too mushy for my tastes. And with a thick slice of eggplant, some tapenade, chicken pieces, more eggplant ant sauce and cheese, this turns into a nice tall dish that looks terrific paired with a simple green salad (like these Mustard greens gently sauted in garlic olive oil.
Chicken Eggplant Parmesan
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil for frying, enough to cover the bottom of a frying pan bu 1/4 inch
- 1/2 cup Flour, for dredging
- 2 Large Eggs, whisked for dipping
- 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs for coating
- 8 Half Inch thick Slices of Eggplant, skin removed
- 16 ounces Marinara Sauce
- 1/2 Pound Cooked Chicken (taken from the leg quarter of a fully cooked, fully seasoned store bought Rotisserie chicken)
- 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Cup grated Mozarella Cheese
- Pinches Salt and Pepper to tase
- 4 TBS O Olive Oil Meyer Lemon Tapenade
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat to just before it starts to smoke.
- Prepare a dredging area with a pan of flour, a pan of whisked eggs and a pan of Panko bread crumbs. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour, followed by the eggs followed by the bread crumbs and finally fry them in the oil just until they begin to toast golden brown and delicious.
- Prepare a baking dish... spoon a small amount of the marinara sauce into the bottom. place 4 of the fried breaded eggplant discs in the bottom.
- Top each disk with 1/4th of the chicken.
- Top the chicken with the Tapenade
- Top this with about 1/3rd of the Mozzarella Cheese
- Top this with about 1/3rd of the Marinara Sauce
- Top this with a second breaded eggplant disc
- Top this with the Parmesan cheese
- Top this with the remaining Marinara Sauce
- and finally, top with the remaining Mozzarella Cheese
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese has melted, the sauce is hot and your kitchen smells DELICIOUS!
- Serve HOT and enjoy!
You get the idea. From Scratch Pizza to Chinese Take Out recipes, Lots of Soups and Chili... Appetizers to Main Courses (Still can't find a dessert, but I am looking). More than enough ideas for that store nought bird to shine with just a little extra work
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