Eggplant Parmesan with Almond Flour Crust
My only plan for last Sunday was to take this awesome class called Stretch, Roll, and Release at the yoga studio near my apartment. The reason I was so set on taking this class was the consequence of having joined my company’s intramural soccer team. It has been a blast, but it is a step out of my routine and leaves me with aching muscles. The yoga tune-up was a little over an hour long and relied heavily on stretching rope and therapy balls that provide a targeted deep tissue massage. I felt rejuvenated!
Of course, the yoga class also pumped up my hunger hormone. I fled through the pouring rain (winter in San Francisco, as usual) to a neighboring grocery store to pick up ingredients for lunch. I was yearning for something cheesy, warm and hearty. I saw the eggplant in the produce department and it spoke to me – eggplant parmesan. The rest is history.
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
- 2 medium eggplants, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds, ends discarded (about 2 1/2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed well by hand
- 2 1/4 cups almond flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Eggs and Dairy
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Approximately 9” by 13” broiler safe baking dish – I used this one from Le Creuset
- Position 2 oven racks in the center and upper third of the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees F.
- Use 1-2 baking sheets (depending on number of eggplant slices) with parchment paper.
- Using a large skillet over medium heat, cook the oil, tomato paste, garlic, and ½ tsp of salt. Cook until the oil turns yellow, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the hand-crushed canned tomatoes. Fill one of the tomato cans with water and add to the skillet along with the basil. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce begins to thicken, approximately 20-25 minutes.
- As the sauce thickens, put almond flour into a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and 3 tablespoons of water until frothy.
- Sprinkle eggplant slices with ½ tsp of salt and a little pepper. Dip the slices into the beaten egg, then press slices into the almond flour. Make sure eggplant slices are nicely coated. Place slices in single layers onto baking sheets. Bake eggplant for 30-35 minutes or until nicely browned.
- Once eggplant is done, remove from oven and turn the oven to broil. Take out the broiler-safe baking dish. Add a little of the thickening tomato sauce to the baking dish. Next add half the eggplant, ½ of the sauce mixture, ¼ cup of mozzarella. Then add the rest of the eggplant and the rest of the sauce. Top the sauce with more mozzarella and parmesan. Broil until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
- Sprinkle parsley on top and serve immediately.
Did you know?
Like tomatoes (surprise – if you didn’t already know), the best place to store an eggplant isn’t in the fridge but at room temperature. Eggplant is extremely sensitive to temperature, especially when temps fall under 50°F, which can ruin the flavor and texture. In fact, researchers from my alma mater – UC Davis – report that when exposed to temps below 41°F for a period of time, eggplant faces chilling injury, like pitting, surface bronzing, and browning of seeds and pulp tissue.
Eggplant is also highly sensitive to ethylene, a colorless and flammable gas which can cause rapid ripening in produce. These ethylene-producing fruits include bananas, tomatoes and melons, among others.
It’s best to use eggplant as quickly after purchasing as possible. When storing, keep eggplants away from these ethylene-producing fruits and in a cool, dry spot away from direct sunlight.