Dychauco: Eggplant parmesan

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By Chef Ed Dychauco

Pots and Pans

Friday, March 14, 2014


NOW that the Lenten season is here, the whole Christian community starts partaking on sea foods and vegetables, especially on Friday as a sign of penitence and in observance of the holy season.

And sometime we ran out of ideas to prepare exciting and delicious foods for the family because what we normally do is just feed our family with what is usually available in the pantry.

And what do we have? Regular staples like eggs, dried fish, canned tuna, noodles, ‘guinamos’ or ‘bagoong,’ eggs and more eggs, right?

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With eggs, it can be prepared in a variety of ways, be it sunny side up, scrambled, poached, baked, steamed, hard boiled, or added to other dishes like ‘ampalaya’ or eggplant ‘torta.’

But this time, we will try to elevate the eggs and eggplant into a “high-end” dish we call eggplant parmesan which of course includes parmesan and another type of cheese to make it taste and look better.

And that is mozzarella cheese.

Yes, I know this is quite expensive and we technically have something that we can use in lieu of it.

Pizza cheese or melting cheese, of course!

But before that, let me introduce you to the type of eggplant used in this dish.

Other parts of the world use the most common eggplant they have, and that is the big, fat, thick skinned eggplant variety.

While what we have is the long, slender eggplant, which is for me, taste better because they go well with the other oriental and native dishes we cook.

This is botanically classified as a berry, and is related to tomato and potato. It is also called aubergine in some countries.

And for those who remember the movie Ratatouille, this is an important ingredient for this French dish, so as Moussaka in the Western world like Turkey and Greece.

One time I attended a culinary class where the eggplant (the imported variety!) was made into a dessert using some chocolate sauce and cheese.

That was different but nevertheless, tastes good.

Maybe it is the chocolate sauce?

Anyway, the good thing with eggplant is that it can be grilled, fried, baked, sautéed, braised, stuffed, or mixed with other vegetables or meat.

Because of its neutral and bland taste, it compliments other ingredients without overpowering the said dish, which is why this vegetable is versatile.

Eggplant is low in fat, protein and carbohydrates in terms of nutritional contents.

It also contain relatively small or low amount of some important vitamins and minerals.

Now that we have mentioned eggplant, egg and the two cheeses, we also need bread crumbs, oil (olive is healthier, naturally), commercially-prepared meatless spaghetti sauce (instead of making your own), a shallow dish like Pyrex and an oven!

Slice the eggplant into about 1/3 inch, if you use the thick variety, it is best to peel them.

Dip them in the beaten eggs.

Coat the slices with seasoned bread crumbs (commercially available), if not, add a little salt and pepper to the bread crumbs.

Brush the dish with some oil before arranging the eggplant slices.

For very layer, pour some meatless spaghetti sauce, then the mozzarella cheese and parmesan.

Or, pour some sauce before arranging the slices and follow as above till all eggplant are used up.

For those who like basil, sprinkle some on top for that added flavor.

Bake in a 350 degree oven till golden brown and bubbly.

Ingredients:

1-2 large eggplant

2-3 pcs beaten eggs

2 cups seasoned bread crumbs

4 cups spaghetti sauce (of your choice)

Mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese

Tip: One can add some ground meat (pork, beef, chicken, etc.) if desired during regular days in the sauce.

Email: potsnpans1976@yahoo.com

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 14, 2014.

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