Dinner the Fourth Friday of Lent

As Mel related in her post earlier this week, we are in the middle of redoing the counter tops in our kitchen and replacing the back-splash and windows. (before and after pictures at a later date).  Nothing is in its place and everything is very disorganized.  Our meals have been fast and  simple all week, mostly frozen leftovers and sandwiches.  It was time for something fresh and tasty.  Earlier in the week I  bought an eggplant.  They were fresh, firm and gorgeous.  Ten years ago I would have never bought an eggplant.  I found the night shade vegetable bitter and difficult to cook.   About five  years ago I had babaganous and discovered the vegetable  had evolved over the years into a very versatile  treat.   We  enjoy eggplant  grilled in a Panini, roasted on salads or with a sauce,  in stews and stir fries, and best of all in Eggplant Parmesan.  It is fast, easy, rich, and filling.    The hubby and I cleared the table,  stacked with everything from the kitchen counters,  filled our plates, and enjoyed our Eggplant Parmesan, salad , and garlic bread.   The absence of meat was never mentioned,  just moans and groans about how full we were.  What a perfect ending to the week.

Preheat oven to 350

1 large or 2 small firm eggplants

1/2 cup flour

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 cup Parmesan cheese grated

1  egg

1/4  cup milk

olive oil

1/2 tsp salt  1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese

1 quart Spaghetti  sauce.

Spaghetti Sauce

1 quart of tomatoes with juice, crushed

5 cloves of garlic minced

1/4 cup parsley chopped

salt to taste

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 tsp Italian spice

Slice the eggplant in 1/3 inch slices, lightly salt both sides of the eggplant, set aside.

Place 1 TBSP of olive oil in a sauté pan and add garlic.   Saute until soft, add red pepper,  cook 1 minute then add Italian spice, and tomatoes.  Allow to simmer until slightly reduced by 1/3 to 1/2  and thickened.  When reduced and parsley.

While sauce is reducing,  whisk egg with milk until well mixed.  Mix Panko and 1/2 cup parmesan.  Pat eggplant dry, dip in flour, then egg, and then the Panko mixture.   Heat enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan on medium high.  Brown both sides of the eggplant until golden, drain on paper towel.

Place enough sauce,  in a 9 x 13 pan, to cover the bottom.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan.  Place a single layer of  eggplant in the pan.  Cover with remaining sauce.  Place a slice of mozzarella on each piece of eggplant.  Bake until sauce bubbles and cheese melts.  Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.   May be served with spaghetti or linguine,  green salad, and garlic bread.

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