Easy Eggplant Parmesan

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My mom is a genius. I’m just going to put that out there.

Ever since I was a little kid, my mom would require my brother and I to plan and prepare our own dinner for the family several times over the course of the summer. Some summers the expectation for us to cook dinner fell weekly, however if the schedule was more irregular than that, it was always safe to assume my brother and I would be responsible for a meal over family vacation.

My mom would help us brainstorm whatever food we might want to prepare, would bless our desires to cook crazy and exotic meals, such as scallops or eggrolls, and always rolled up her sleeves to help us every step of the way.

I am sure that is where I learned some of my love for cooking, alongside my sweet and patient mother. I imagine those summer nights cooking also are responsible for helping me learn the rhythm of how to prepare a large meal, and where I got over a fear of trying new things in the kitchen.

This summer, my family vacationed for a week in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. It was beautiful. As was our tradition, each member of the family took a night to cook. For my night, I decided to whip up this scrumptious Eggplant Parmesan- yet another recipe I learned from my talented mother.

For some, eggplants may be on their way out of the farmer’s market, but if you can still get em’ fresh, I would highly suggest it. Nothing tastes as satisfying as a delicious bite of homemade Eggplant Parmesan at the end of summer.

Dig in, get cooking, give your mom a hug, and come back soon!

XO

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • Salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup skim milk
  • 2+ Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 large can marinara sauce
  • 1 package shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Optional: Sprinkle with dried basil & oregano

Directions:

  1. Rinse and cut the eggplant into large coins. Arrange on a flat surface and sprinkle each piece lightly with salt. Allow the eggplant to ‘sweat’ for 10 minutes, removing some of the bitter flavor (You should see water droplets form on top of each piece). Rinse the eggplant slices under cool water and pat dry.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the milk. Dip each eggplant slice in the egg/milk, and coat with an even layer of bread crumbs.
  3. Using two large frying pans, heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil in each pan over medium heat. Arrange the breaded eggplant slices in the frying pans, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the eggplant slowly, around 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. If breadcrumbs look to dry when flipping, add a little extra olive oil to the pan!
  4. Once the eggplant is soft and golden brown, divide the can of marinara over the two frying pans. Sprinkle generously with cheese, cover, and cook on low an additional 4 minutes- or until the marinara sauce is warm and the cheese melted.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: A Rented Kitchen
  • For a lighter version, you could try dredging the eggplant slices, and baking the eggplant in a greased dish until soft and cooked through. This would remove some of the additional olive oil!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from ‘A Rented Kitchen’! (Recipe links found below!)

Marinated and Roasted Eggplant with Smoked Almonds & Goat Cheese


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For those of you following this blog, it should be no surprise to you that goat cheese is my weakness. (Proof: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Goat Cheese, and Cranberries over Barley; Sweet Potato Pizza with Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Kale; Balsamic Mushroom and Fruit Summer Salad– the list goes on!)

When I stumbled upon this recipe on pinterest, and saw a photo of the warm goat cheese atop a large pile of baked eggplant, I literally had to stop myself from drooling. TMI?

I knew this recipe was going to be good the moment I saw the goat cheese, however what I did not anticipate was the amazing marinade combination that truly knocks this dish out of the park.  Trust me when I say this, sooo good. I think for two days straight the only thing I ate for lunch was an enormous bowl of eggplant, and I loved it.

If you’re looking for something delicious, simple, and incredibly flavorful, look no further. Your whole house will smell amazing, your friends will be begging for the recipe, and you will feel good about what you’re eating- a win, win, win!

Stay tuned for more end-of-summer recipes coming your way, and don’t forget to subscribe so you won’t miss a thing!

Happy hump day.

Love, a rented kitchen.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 Tablespoons
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup flat parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled and divided
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Rinse the eggplant and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large bowl, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, smoked paprika, and cumin.
  4. Use a dishcloth to dab away any water that has beaded up on the eggplant, and then drizzle with the marinade. Toss until the eggplant is thoroughly and evenly coated, and then stir in the garlic.
  5.  Spread the eggplant out on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 40, stirring every 15 minutes or so, or until very tender and lightly browned.  Watch the eggplant closely after 30 minutes to ensure it does not burn!
  6. Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice and soy sauce (save a dish and use the same marinade bowl used before!). Once cooked, return the eggplant to a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice mixture.
  7. Stir in the parsley leaves, smoked almonds, and most of the goat cheese.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the remaining goat cheese and scallions. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: 4
  • Source: The Kitchn
  • To make vegan, omit the goat cheese and swap out agave for honey as desired!
  • If you like this recipe, try these other delicious options from ‘a rented kitchen!’ Click the links below for the recipes.

Mozzarella and Basil Stuffed Eggplant Slices

 

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There’s something about Basil and fresh vegetables that just feels right for summer nights.  Usually when I am craving some fresh basil and veggies I’ll throw together some pasta or make a pizza- easy go-to meals.  A few nights ago however, I was in the need of something a little lighter, which led me to this delicious dish.

This dish has a lot of the flavors associated with pizza or pasta, but substitutes out the bread and carbs with delicious roasted eggplant, making this a nutritious and delicious gluten-free option.   You’ll feel like you’re eating a pizza with the delicious melted mozzarella, Italian seasoning, and basil, however your body will feel much better than it does after pizza.

Serve these eggplant rolls as an appetizer or as a meal for two, with a big bowl of fresh fruit and a toss salad.  Summer has arrived!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped basil + leaves to garnish
  • 1 -14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes (with added herbs)
  • Italian herb seasoning mix (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F and lightly brush a baking sheet with olive oil.
  2. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 8 thin slices.  For the slices on the end and that primarily have skin on one side, feel free to grate some of that off (the skin can be slightly chewy if not cooked long enough!).
  3. Brush each slice with olive oil, place on the baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the eggplant from the oven and sprinkle each slice with mozzarella cheese and basil.  Roll each slice up and place in a single layer baking dish.
  5. Pour the can of chopped tomatoes over the eggplant slices and return the dish to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts.
  6. Remove the slices from the oven and garnish with additional basil leaves and a sprinkle of Italian herb seasoning mix on top.  Serve warm and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Source: Easy Vegetarian Cookbook by Love Food
  • If you like this recipe, check out these other yummy dishes from ‘a rented kitchen!’:

 

 

 

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Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes, Mint, and Goat Cheese

Filo-Wrapped Asparagus with Two Dipping Sauces

Filo-Wrapped Asparagus with Two Dipping Sauces

Vegan Italian Vegetable Casserole

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As a vegan, you can not eat cheese (obviously). For this dairy-loving girl that part of veganism has been quite a challenge. I love sprinkling some good cheese over a salad or pasta, and having cheese slices with my apple! Mmmmm Mmm!

However, when my boyfriend and I decided to be vegan for lent, as a measure of respect and gratitude towards the environment, we committed to no cheese. What I am learning, is that despite real cheese, there are other ingredient combinations out there that can create the feeling and appearance of cheese, in a healthier and equally delicious way! (whhuuut?! I was shocked too.)

Take this recipe for instance. The fresh zucchini and eggplant slices are stacked in between layers of tomato sauce and a creamy bean, spice, and spinach blend. This creamy sauce, although completely vegan friendly, makes an excellent cheese substitute that adds great nutritional value and flavor. You have to trust me on this, but I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t the truth! Now, get cookin!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly*
  • 28 ounces of prepared pasta sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup spinach, firmly packed
  • Chopped parsley, garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Rinse and peel the eggplants and zucchini to allow for easier cutting and serving later! Slice the eggplants into ¼ – inch thick slices, and slice the zucchini into thin coins.
  3. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, and bake until the slices are shriveled, but not brown or crispy.
  4. While the eggplant is cooking rinse the spinach and remove the stems from the leaves.
  5. Combine the beans, basil, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, and spinach in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  6. Reduce the heat of the oven to 425˚ F (after the eggplant is done cooking and has been removed).
  7. Spray a medium-sized casserole dish (11 x 7 inch, or a quiche dish) with nonstick spray and spread a thin layer of pasta sauce in the pan.
  8. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices over the sauce, and then spread a layer of the bean filling over the eggplant. Position a layer of zucchini slices over the bean filling. Drizzle lightly with pasta sauce.
  9. Repeat step 8 until all of the vegetables and bean filling have been arranged in the pan. Top the entire casserole with another layer of pasta sauce, spreading to cover the eggplant completely.
  10. Bake the casserole uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables have cooked all the way through and the sauce has thickened.
  11. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes, Mint, and Goat Cheese

In an ideal world, I would only cook with produce that is in season. There are several reasons for this. 1) If a product is in season and in your grocery store, there’s a higher chance it’s local. When we buy out of season produce, it has been shipped from somewhere with a different climate- which is bad for the environment. 2) There is a huge financial benefit to shopping in season! Produce is cheaper when it’s naturally time for it to be harvested. 3) There are health benefits to shopping in season. If we follow the calendar year and eat what is available in each season, we will most likely increase the variety of produce we consume, and thus nutrients we intake. Seasons are Mother Nature’s way of balancing our diet.

I still have a lot to learn about the seasons for different fruits and vegetables, but one season I have been looking forward to is eggplant season. And good news! Here it is! The natural season for eggplants is from July to October, with some slight variations based on location.  Eggplant was not a common vegetable I ate as a child, but as my obsession for reading recipes has begun, I have been dying to try several eggplant recipes. It’s a very versatile produce and can be prepared in numerous ways.

The recipe I have here today calls for oven roasted eggplant slices that are then topped with a delicious tomato based salad- almost like bruschetta but with eggplant slices instead of bread! It’s perfect for a meal for 2, or as an appetizer or side dish! Happy eggplant season, and happy cooking!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds eggplant (about 2 medium), in 3/4- to 1-inch slices
  • 2 ounces (1/2 cup)
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese or crumbled ricotta salata*
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
  • 3 seeded, diced medium tomatoes (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
  • 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by coating with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  I suggest using a pastry brush to really cover the entire sheet!
  2. Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheet, sprinkling each slice with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Roast the eggplant for 15 to 20 minutes, without disturbing it.
  4. After roasting, remove the eggplant from the oven and flip each piece.  They should flip with ease, and the underside should be dark and slightly blistery.  If the slices are not dark and blistered, allow them to cook for another few minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper again, and return the eggplant to the oven- roasting for another 10- 12 minutes.
  6. While the eggplant is cooking: in a small bowl, combine the crumbled cheese, capers, onion, tomatoes, mint, vinegar, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil.*
  7. Serve each slice of eggplant with a scoop of the tomato salad on top of each round. Serve immediately.

Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: Makes about 4 appetizer/salad portions, assuming people will eat two rounds each.
  • Feel free to season the tomato mixture more as desired- adding salt, crushed black pepper, more vinegar, oregano, parsley, etc.
  • The original recipe calls for ricotta salata, however I used goat cheese because it’s what I had in the house and found it to be delicious.
  • Tip: In order to save left overs for another time, store the tomato salad and eggplant in separate sealed containers in the refrigerator. This will work best if the eggplant has not yet been coated with the tomato mixture. Thus, only serve up the eggplant rounds based on what is called for originally. You can always serve a second round with more tomato mixture, or allow for people to top their own eggplant slices as desired.
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen