Friday, June 6, 2014

Leslie's Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Our family LOVES chicken or eggplant Parmesan when it's done really well!  

(Pssst... Tyler Florence has the best recipe.)

This eggplant parm is delicious too, and something I can throw together quickly.  Granted, I tend to make homemade marinara sauce a lot so it doesn't take me long, but here I use "semi homemade" because I also add in a jar of marinara sauce.  If you're very short on time, just use the jarred sauce and it's still really good.  No judging here! ;)

This may recipe may sound like it should be complicated, but when using already sliced and breaded eggplant, that eliminates all the work that goes into preparing it.  This sauce is hearty and full of flavor!  Let it simmer on low or put in the crock pot on low to meld together in richness and flavor all afternoon!  It would smell great to come home to after church or work.  If you cook the eggplant and pasta while the sauce simmers, it saves a lot of time.

Good timing is essential when cooking! 

We enjoy this meal with a salad and sometimes salty garlic rolls, but last night I chose sautéed summer squash instead.  Delicious!  Enjoy for yourself!

Heads up:  This recipe is original to The Cozy Little Kitchen, and those of you who have followed long enough know most of my recipe ingredient portions are somewhat guesstimated.  It's just how I was raised to cook, so adjust seasoning to your own liking!

Easy Eggplant Parmesan
Serves: 4-6

1 jar of favorite marinara sauce (no meat please) I happened to have Prego Garden Veggie

1 large can of diced tomatoes undrained or crushed tomatoes (depending if you like a chunky or smooth sauce)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Or 2 cloves Minced Garlic (I used pre-minced in the jar.)

1/2 medium onion or about 3/4 c. diced (I used pre chopped frozen onion.)

1 Tbsp. Tomato paste

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

Dash of crushed red pepper

1 tsp. Sugar

Salt & Pepper

1 lb. pasta, cooked according to directions (I used more like 2/3 the box, but we like saucy pasta!)

Frozen breaded Eggplant Cutlets (I used Trader Joes brand.)

Mozzarella cheese, about 1 1/2 cups

Parmesan cheese, about 1/2 cup

Basil leaves for garnish

Set a large pot over medium heat and add a couple swirls of oil around the pot. Once hot, add the onion and cook until soft and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute before adding the canned diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir together until tomato paste is blended.  Add the Italian seasonings, crushed red pepper, sugar, and generous salt and pepper (to taste!).  Allow this to simmer for a few minutes before adding the entire jar of marinara sauce.  Stir together and taste to see if anymore salt or pepper needs to be added.  Sometimes here I add a splash of EVOO for good measure and extra richness. Put the lid on a simmer for about 25-30 minutes on med-low heat.  Stir occasionally.  I use a heavy glazed cast iron pot to ensure it doesn't scorch.

While that simmers, preheat the oven according  to directions on the frozen eggplant box.  Place the eggplant on a sheet tray lightly sprayed with oil or lined with parchment paper.  

Bake the eggplant according to directions.  Mine was about 18 minutes.  Bake on a rack in the middle of the oven to get them crispy.

Once the eggplant is done, spoon some of the finished marinara sauce right over the eggplant while still on the sheet tray.  Sprinkle with cheeses and place basil leaf on top.  Bake another 3 minutes or until melted.

While that's in the oven, add cooked and drained pasta to remaining marinara sauce in the pan and stir together.

To serve it up, ladle a portion of saucy pasta in your large bowl, and place 2 eggplant Parmesan on the top!

Voila!  Enjoy.


Ali Phillips said...

Looks great Leslie :) I so wish we had a Trader Joes anywhere close to where I live. I doubt we have any in my state. It's a bummer :(

Leslie said...

Thank you, Ali! A Trader Joes was just built down the street from me about 2 years ago, but up till then I was out of luck, too. I used to go to (over 2 house away) to Nashville and stock up at the one there! I hope you can find a way to make this anyways, but with your yummy cooking skills I'm not worried! ;)