What do you do when you have some leftover tomato sauce and odd knobs of cheese? Well, some of you may be thinking about pasta or some sort of weird tomato cheese soup. I made a quick dash to my nearby wet market for some inspiration. Nothing really captured my attention until I spotted the really shiny eggplant. The fate of the eggplant (and the tomato sauce and cheese) was sealed – eggplant parmesan.
I didn’t refer to any recipes – I built this dish based on what I know about eggplant parmesan, and what I have in the fridge. A lot of the traditional cooking treatment and ingredients to this dish is kind of “ignored” by me. Supposedly, mozzarella cheese is used in eggplant parmesan to give it that chewiness. As I don’t have that on hand, I substituted it with Gruyere and Parmesan. I also did not bother to pan-fry the eggplant (to prevent it from becoming soggy) – I didn’t want to wash another pan.
All I use was the oven and whatever the fridge has gifted me. Recipes are great but don’t be afraid to give it your own spin. Unless you are feeding it to your nonna, as long as the dish is delicious, I am sure it will keep many bellies happy.
When I made this dish, I did not make the effort to measure any of the ingredients. This was created based on leftovers. I strongly encourage you to think about what’s already in your fridge and build a dish. This way, we would prevent wastage of food and also boost your creativity. You do not need to cook an entire dish on leftovers – like me, think about what you have and grab one key ingredient (in this case eggplant).
1) 1 small eggplant
2) ½ cup of tomato sauce
3) Odd knobs of Gruyere and Parmesan, grated
4) Panko crumbs
5) Olive oil, salt and black pepper
6) Puttanesca mix (optional)
7) Thyme (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 220oC.
- Wash and cut the eggplant into ¼ inch thick slices.
- On a baking tray, pour some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and black pepper. Place the sliced eggplant on the baking tray and coat each piece with the oil, salt and black pepper.
- Put the baking tray in the oven and let it bake for about 15 minutes (you can rotate the tray after 8 minutes; but I usually leave it alone).
- Once done, remove the tray from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 200oC.
- In a small baking dish (I got mine from Daiso), layer it with about ¼ cup of tomato sauce or just enough to cover the base. If you have it on hand, you can add in a teaspoon of the puttanesca mix, and mix it with the tomato sauce.
- Place the baked sliced eggplant on top of the sauce and sprinkled both cheeses – make sure you put enough to cover the eggplant.
- For the second layer, repeat – tomato sauce (no puttanesca mix; the mix is actually pretty strong and salty, hence use it for one layer is good enough), eggplant and cheese.
- To finish, cover the dish with panko crumbs and if you must, finely grated parmesan (Of course, I add in the extra cheese).
- Bake for 10 minutes in the oven, and switch to grill/ broiler setting and bake it for another 5-8 minutes or until the top turned golden brown.
- Sprinkle some thyme leaves (or basil) and serve it warm.
- You can have this dish on its own, or serve it with some mix salad.