Monday, March 5, 2012

eggplant lasagna (alternate title: panko, where have you been all my life?)

I've eaten foods breaded with panko plenty of times, but for some reason I just hadn't cooked with it until now. I'm pretty sure I'm never turning back (although you may call me a hypocrite in a few days, but that's a different story).

I actually tried a different brand of panko breadcrumbs the other day, but they didn't stick at all. Either the pieces were too big or I was just inept at breading.

When we didn't feel like doing anything else (which was quite often), Katherine (of brownie fame) used to make us eggplant lasagna. It was always a competition to see how many pieces of eggplant I could snatch before she put the dish together. I guess I wasn't thinking about how little lasagna there would be if I kept eating the eggplant. Sometimes, I'm such a child.

The breaded eggplant takes the place of noodles in this lasanga, and you can make it as simple, or as complicated, as you'd like. This recipe is for the most basic lasagna (eggplant, marinara, cheese, and a touch of cream to hold it together), because I was feeling almost too lazy to make anything. But then, that's the beauty of the lasagna.

Eggplant Lasagna

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2" rounds
1/2 cup corn starch or flour
1/2 cup egg whites
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup ricotta
1-2 cups of your favorite marinara, depending on how much sauce you like
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 375*. Heat oil in a large skillet. Season panko with salt and pepper. Don't be shy! Some of it will fall off in the pan anyway. Dredge eggplant first in corn starch or flour, then dip in egg whites and cover in panko. Carefully place slices in the skillet, without crowding the pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until the breadcrumbs are golden and when taking the eggplant out of the pan it's easy to stick a fork into. Let the slices drain on a paper towel-lined plate while you finish the rest. In a 9x9 (8x8?) pan, first lay down a thin layer of marinara (this helps the food not stick to the bottom or dry out). Arrange a layer of eggplant, then dollop ricotta on top and spread around with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with mozzarella and drizzle half of the heavy cream over top. Repeat the layering until you're out of eggplant, which for me was 3 layers. I also cut some of the pieces in half so they fit better in the pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the cream is bubbly and reduced and the cheese is golden.

Check out the other fabulous bloggers participating in recipe madness!
The Cheesefries Stand Alone
Food Feminism Life
Kelly's Stellar Kitchen   

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