Vegetarian Indulgence – Cheesy Eggplant Parmesan
It’s typhoon season in Hong Kong, and on this rainy Monday, what better way to beat the rainy blues then to snuggle up on the couch with a bowl of piping hot, gooey eggplant parmesan? This is comfort food at its heart, and with no meat or carbs involved, it is also somewhat of a guilt-free indulgence. I found my inspiration for this recipe through skinnytaste.com, and gently adapted it to my taste. The result is a lighter version of the traditional sort that an Italian “nonna” would make. But rest assured, where as it has cut considerably on its fat content, it has lost none of its vibrant flavours. This dish, paired with a crisp green salad and a glass or two of bold red, makes for a perfect, unapologetically indulgent vegetarian meal.
What you’ll need (feeds 2-3 people):
- 1 large eggplant (skinny or round)
- 1.5 cups ricotta
- 1 tbls milk
- a handful of fresh parsley
- 1.5 cups of grated mozzarella
- 3 cups of tomato sauce
- salt & pepper
- 2 tbls olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 230 degrees celsius.
Cut the eggplant into 1cm thick slices. Sprinkle each slice with salt and let them rest in colander for around 30 minutes to drain out any excess liquids. While the eggplant is draining, make the red and white sauces.
Red sauce: I usually make my tomato sauces from scratch, but when pressed for time I would use canned tomato sauce. Adjust the sauce for seasoning (I tend to add a spoonful of sugar to balance the acidity of canned tomato sauce).
White sauce: Whisk ricotta together with milk, and add in a handful of chopped parsley, plus a 1/2 tsp of salt & pepper.
After 30 minutes, pat each eggplant slice dry with a paper towel and drizzle with olive oil. Line slices on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, the eggplant slices should be quite tender.
Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees celsius.
Smooth a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish and cover with a layer of tender eggplant slices.
Slather the white ricotta sauce over the eggplants and sprinkle with grated mozzarella.
Continue this layering until you get to the top layer of eggplant. Cover this layer with the last of the tomato sauce and sprinkle generously with mozzarella.
Pop the baking dish into the 200 celsius oven and bake for around 30 minutes. The goal is for the cheese to melt into a golden crust.
Voila! Let the dish of bubbling tomato sauce and cheese rest for around 10 minutes so that it’s easier to cut into (that is, if you can wait this long!).