Every year I’m in awe of just how many eggplants one plant can product and this year is no different. Here are a couple of shots of some of the eggplants I harvested out of our garden last year:
Beautiful, aren’t they?
This past weekend, I decided to try something new with my eggplant. I’m not a huge fan of Eggplant Parmesan, because as a general rule I try and stay away from breading and frying things. Usually, in place of the classic, I simply saute some slices, layer them in a pan with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil and then bake it. I’ve changed this up with tomato sauce instead of fresh and it’s equally delicious.
But, I really wanted to try something new this weekend and I’m calling it Eggplant Bianca, since there’s no tomato sauce involved; it’s just grilled eggplant baked with cheese and a simple white sauce. A layer of blanched arugula or spinach would be perfect in this. A layer of fresh tomatoes would also be wonderful (though no longer “bianca”) and I’m looking forward to playing with this more in the months to come.
eggplant bianca recipe (eggplant with fresh mozzarella and parmesan)
- 2 medium to large eggplants
- Olive oil, for sauteing the eggplant and also greasing the pan
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (1 tablespoon for the bottom of pan, the rest for layering)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (generous) half and half
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup for white sauce, 1/2 cup for topping)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, broken or cut into small cubes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350°
Using olive oil, lightly grease a 9 x 13 dish. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of panko and set aside.
Slice eggplant into thin rounds, about 1/2 inch each and sprinkle on one side with a bit of salt. Using a grill pan (or a grill), grill the slices with a bit of olive oil, turning occasionally, until mostly cooked through, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a bowl, whip together eggs, half and half, garlic, Parmesan. basil, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper.
In prepared casserole dish, lay down a single layer of grilled eggplant slices. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the fresh mozzarella and 1/3 of the panko bread crumbs. Create 2 more layers, doing the same. Pour the egg mixture over everything in the dish and, using a spatula, gently press the eggplant/cheese layers together.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until edges and tops begin to bubble and brown.
Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
I already told you some other ideas for this, such as a layer of arugula, spinach or tomatoes. I think if you cut this into small squares, it would make a perfect appetizer. It could also be used as a side dish, if you prefer, instead if serving it as a main course, such as I did. And if you’re looking for what to serve a vegetarian guest at a party, I think this definitely fits the bill. Also, as a final note, you can certainly remove the eggplant skin, if you prefer it that way.