Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan is more of a warm summer salad than the traditional marinara-soaked dish that is often served with pasta. This reasonably healthy, vegetarian dish incorporates the eggplant, cheese, and fresh tomato with sourdough crostini and a drizzle of olive oil and good balsamic vinegar.
Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan
(Mark Kelly, 2013)
1 large eggplant
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 8 slices
1 small loaf of crusty bread (sourdough preferred)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 slabs
4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 large fresh basil leaves, torn in half
Heat oven to 375F.
Cut the bread into eight 3/4-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Place the bread on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes per side, or until the bread is crisp and just beginning to turn golden brown. Set aside and allow to cool.
Cut the eggplant into eight 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the eggplant on paper towels and cover with paper towels. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the eggplant to leech some of its liquid.
Heat oven to 400F.
In a rimmed dish place the beaten eggs. In a second rimmed dish mix the flour, cornmeal and oregano. Season the flour mixture with salt and pepper. Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray. Dredge each eggplant slice in the eggs then in the flour mixture. Place the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray each eggplant slice with cooking spray, flip the eggplant and repeat.
Bake the eggplant for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and make sure the flour coating is not drying out. If it is, brush with olive oil. Flip the eggplant and brush the other side with oil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the flour coating it golden brown and the eggplant is softened. Place a slab of mozzarella on each eggplant slice and sprinkle each evenly with Parmesan. Broil until the mozzarella bubbles and begins to brown.
To serve: Place two slices of bread on each plate, top with an eggplant slice, top with a tomato slice and two basil leaf pieces. Drizzle the tomato with oil and balsamic. Place a second eggplant slice on top of the tomato. Place another tomato and two more basil leaf pieces on the eggplant. Drizzle again with oil and balsamic. Repeat for the remaining three servings. Serve immediately.