Friday, January 13, 2012

Eggplant Parmigiana

I have to give my credit to my two oldest girls, Kalena and Kiley, for the inspiration of this dish.  With both of them being vegetarians for many many years now, I am left to ponder new ways to bring us together as a family.  And for my mind, that basically means new recipes that all of us would love for dinner and dessert.  Because my cooking is the glue that I use to hold it all together with.  To pull them back here, to sit around one table and share what I can do best with all of them.  My cooking, which is my outlet of my love for them.  They are both much older now, with them being from my husbands first marriage (and he is 10 years my senior) and have busy busy lives of their own with college, high school, work and of course their friends.  And it is true, just as everyone has told me, teenagers want to be with their friends.  At first I was in total denial of this.  I was dead set that it had to be because of me and the new babies that they started to come home to us less and less.  And I was at such a depressed loss on how to handle and change this.  But in time, and with many encouraging smiles and hugs from my Mom, my sole inspiration to be all that is good in this world for myself and my family, I became to understand that they are teenagers, just as I was not so very long ago.  And I did know one thing, they love my cooking.  So, with that being said, I was ready to lure them on home with weekly standing invites for dinner.  And it works.  Of course not every time due to school and work, but most of the time.  My cooking has held us all together for many years already and will be doing it for many years to come.  I love those two girls as my own and I hope, and at times I can almost feel it, that they do me too.

2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of baby portabella mushrooms (chopped)
1 medium red onion (diced)
1 large garlic clove (minced)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
4 T. of red wine (rule of thumb-cook with what you would drink-I used Lambrusco since it's sweet)
1 and a 1/2 jars (26oz. jars) of prepared red sauce (I used Prego Traditional)
1 tsp. of Italian seasonings
4 T. of extra virgin olive oil (divided)
2 nice sized eggplants (peeled and thickly sliced horizontally)
2 eggs
2 T. of water
3/4 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups of finely shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb. of uncooked spaghetti pasta

-Preheat your oven to 400*.  Add your e.v.o. into a large deep saucepan over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is good and hot (and you can smell the olive oil), toss in the mushrooms, onions and a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Saute them until they are softened, then stir in the garlic.  Once you can smell the garlic, pour in the red wine and let this come to a nice little boil.  Pour in the red sauce and the Italian seasonings and return it to a boil again; reduce heat to simmer, covered until ready to use (the longer the better).  Now you are ready to start the eggplant.  Heat up 1 T. of the e.v.o. in a large skillet over a medium-high heat.  In a small shallow bowl, beat together the eggs, water and some salt and pepper (to season the eggplant itself).  Pour your bread crumbs in another small shallow bowl.  One by one, dip the eggplant thoroughly in the egg wash, then dredge it evenly in the bread crumbs and carefully place into your hot oiled pan (I had to do this in batches of 5-6 slices at a time to fit in my pan).  Pan fry them for about 2-4 minutes on each side or just until they are a nice golden brown color.  Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the oil while you do the remaining batches.  Once the eggplant has all been battered and fried, lay them out in a 9x13" baking dish (mine fit snug and perfect), sprinkle the tops heavily in the Parmesan cheese, ladle a good amount of the red sauce over them and then cover the whole dish in a thick blanket of mozzarella cheese.  Bake on the center rack of your oven at 400* for 10 minutes, then toss the oven temp. up to a HI broil x about 2 minutes to just slightly toast up the cheese a bit.  Serve with garlic bread.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!

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