ABC News Breakfast 30 Nov 2021

Oooooh yeah!!

One-tray Eggplant parma

Serves 4-6

 

Although you might look at this recipe title and think “oh yeah, this is like a vego chicken parma, right?” you’ll be surprised to know that in this case, the egg(plant) totally came before the chicken. It’s Italians in the diaspora, in America and Australia, who’ve taken to turning chicken schnitty into a parma pub special with the additions of tomato sauce and cheese (and the occasional slice of parma ham). The OG, Eggplant Parmigiana, is a dish that’s said to have originated in Parma in Italy, and it’s usually much fussier: baked in layers, or fried after being breaded. This one definitely takes some short-cuts: like baking the eggplant as halves, and popping the bread in with the cheese for stuffing. But that doesn’t mean it’s a rush-job. Take your time where it matters – like sweating down the onions (which you can conveniently do while the oven preheats) and making sure the eggplant’s properly cooked through – there’s nothing worse than an undercooked eggplant that bites at your tongue… except maybe undercooked chicken, that is.

One-tray Eggplant Parma

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian

Equipment

  • baking dish

Ingredients
  

  • 1 brown onion diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Pinch brown sugar
  • 3-4 eggplants
  • 3-4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 150 g 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 50 g 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (see subs)
  • 2 tins 800g whole peeled cherry tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Parsley or basil to garnish

Instructions

  • Pop diced onion, olive oil, sugar and red wine vinegar into the baking tray or dish. Whack into your cold oven, the crank the temp. to 200C so the onions cook while the oven heats up.
  • Meanwhile, halve the eggplants and slice in a criss-cross pattern, then salt liberally on the exposed faces, and rub it in a little. Leave them in a bowl to sweat.
  • Once the oven is warmed up, scoop the onions out into a bowl and reserve. Line the base of your baking tray with baking paper. Pour oil on top. Squeeze out any excess moisture from the eggplants, pat them dry with paper towel and place them cut-side down onto the oiled paper. Roast for 20-25 minutes.
  • While the eggplant cooks, combine the tins of tomatoes with your sweated onion and minced garlic in the bowl, tasting for seasoning.
  • Pull out the eggplant onto your chopping board, discard the baking paper, then pour the tomato mix out into the baking dish.
  • Make the stuffing mix in the now empty bowl by introducing the breadcrumbs, mozzarella and the mixed herbs to each other. Scoop the flesh of the eggplant out into the bowl with a spoon, being careful not to tear at the skin. Use this spoon to combine all of the ingredients until they’re all friends.
  • Arrange the eggplant skins on top of the sauce, then heap stuffing inside each skin until it’s heaving. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melty. Then crank the oven to ‘grill’ and brown the top of your cheesy bits.
  • Serve drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with (optional) finely chopped parsley or torn basil leaves, plus crusty bread to mop up any sauce.

Notes

Subs:
You can absolutely use fresh breadcrumbs for this – but if the panko’s been sitting in your pantry a while, this is a great way of using it up.
It’s easy to turn this plant-based by using a vegan cheese – anything of the “mozzarella-style” ones is what you’re one. For gluten-free, use rice crumbs or quinoa flakes. 
Riff:
For a Nasu Dengaku, Japanese grilled eggplant, slice the eggplant in half, then roast for 20-30 minutes face-side down. Meanwhile, whisk ½ cup of your favourite miso paste with 1 tablespoon sake, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 tablespoon mirin and 2 tablespoons of neutral oil and once the eggplant’s out of the oven, just flip it over, brush the mix over the cut and scored sides of the prepared eggplant and bake for another 15-20 minutes until a dark caramel colour, then serve hot, sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Keyword cheese, eggplant, vegetarian