Confession time: before last night I had never eaten eggplant (to my knowledge). I have been having this desire for the last couple months to just buy some and try it and I'm not sure what kept stopping me, but I couldn't bring myself to actually do it. I'm not sure if you've heard about Bountiful Baskets before, but if you haven't they are a fresh produce co-op that we try to participate in when we can. Anyway, they had an eggplant in the basket last week and I got so excited! I started trying to find recipes to use it right away.
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this. The flavor was really good and the texture is a little different, but it didn't turn me off from it at all. The husband liked it as well (probably even more than I did, if that's possible), but all four of the kiddos didn't eat more than the required one bite. They were just fine only eating the spaghetti served with it, so I'll definitely be making this again. If you've never tried eggplant, I would give this recipe a go if you are wanting to see what it's like.
1 medium sized eggplant
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 cup grated Mozzerella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Chop off the top and bottom of the eggplant and peel all the skin off with a vegetable peeler. Slice into ¼ inch rounds. Place in a single later in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Turn all the eggplant rounds over and sprinkle the other side with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant then dry well on towels.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the Panko, 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, and basil in a shallow dish pan (I used a 9 inch round cake pan). Heat olive oil over medium-high in a medium sauce pan until hot. Cook breaded eggplant for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on each side. Place in one layer on a cookie sheet. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of spaghetti sauce on each eggplant round and spread it evenly, almost to the edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons mozzerella cheese on top of each one and then top with 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with spaghetti.
Adapted slightly from Mario Batali's recipe on Food Network.