Friday, May 10, 2013

Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan Towers & A Semi-Vegetarian Rant

After living in Nor Cal for almost 5 years now, it's not all that surprising that I've become a bit of a vegetarian. I'm not a real vegetarian, thanks to bacon and pork belly, but it's a close call. Since I stopped eating meat every meal and started treating it like, well, a treat, I feel a lot healthier. A lot of people push no-meat days like Meatless Monday and that's fine, but for me I rather eat meat in a less-American fashion, meaning maybe once a week? And, when I do have meat, I like for it to actually be meat. Not mass produced, genetically altered, chemically injected, processed meat-like substances like you get at McDonalds and other fast-food joints.

There are also environmental reasons I don't eat a lot of meat anymore, and I could get out my soap box and write up a huge post about how Americans waste more resources like water and grain to raise livestock than you know, healthy humans, but I don't feel like picking a fight on the internet at the moment. Right now I feel like writing a recipe.

Trader Joe's, the grocery store I frequent the most, has a huge fresh produce section and a lot of delicious pre-made meals. I don't remember the last time I bought meat, or a pre-made meal from TJ's that had meat in it, and that's not due to consciously avoiding it. My favorite dish they sell is their Eggplant Parmesan Towers, which are basically like lasagna with eggplant instead of pasta, and happen to be vegetarian. Anywho, while I'm in Colorado, I don't have access to a Trader Joe's, and thus, no nomalicious eggplant towers.. so I decided I would make my own delicious version of the dish.

Eggplant Parmesan Towers

Preheat oven to 350°F
Ingredients: 
2 medium sized eggplants (or 1 large)
1 bag of baby Spinach
16ox marinera
1 cup Mozzarella shredded cheese 
1 cup Parmesan shredded cheese
2 eggs
Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Basil

Process:
Peel eggplant(s).

Slice eggplant(s) into 1/2 inch slices.

Coat bottom of casserole dish with a thin layer of marinera.

In a shallow bowl, scramble your two eggs. In another, mix your parmesan cheese with some salt, pepper, oregano and basil herbs (I don't have measurements for this.. I just sprinkle some in.)
Using your right hand, dip a slice of eggplant into the egg, flip it, then put it into the parmesan once it's nicely coated in egg. Then, using your left hand, coat the slice with the cheese mixture on both sides. Once there's a somewhat-coating layer of cheese and spices, put the slice in the casserole dish.

After you've got one layer of eggplant in the dish, time to add toppings! Spoon some marinera onto each slice of eggplant, then cover with some spinach and mozzarella.
I didn't pre-cook my spinach for this dish, but if I did it again, I'd steam them at least until they started to wilt.

Repeat the eggplant coating and layering process for another layer.

If your dish is high enough and you have enough eggplant, feel free to try for a triple layer tower. I only had another parmesan to make two triple layer towers.

Stick in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350°F, or until the cheese on top starts to brown.

Plate, serve, devour.