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Comforted

September 12, 2011

Growing up, my mom was a master at what we referred to as “the dinner rotation.” You know what I’m talking about: Mom could cook several things really well, and those meals were rotated on a weekly basis—chicken, pasta, and rice being the primary contenders.

The meal that mom is known for, eggplant parm, ironically never made it into the weekly rotation. I suspect that time was the biggest issue: my mom prepared her eggplant the way one of her closest Italian friends taught her: a painstaking process of slicing, salting, draining, pressing, (in between paper towels and the heaviest books we had in the house), dredging, breading, frying, layering, and baking. Eggplant parm was reserved for special occasions in my house: birthdays, holidays, celebrations—because it was literally a labor of love.

Can you think of a better definition of comfort food?

When I was thinking about what to make for dinner this week, I only had to see the leftover eggplant from this weekend’s pizza to make up my mind:

Easy Eggplant Casserole

(Quicker, and healthier, than Mom’s. Not the same as the original, but still pretty darn good!)

Ingredients:

  • One medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2 in. rounds
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • about 3/4 C bread crumbs
  • mozzarella cheese (anywhere from 1/2 – 1 C)
  • 1 C tomato sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350*. Spray 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Dip eggplant rounds in egg, then dredge in bread crumbs.
  • Arrange layers in baking pan: eggplant, sauce, cheese, repeat.
  • Bake casserole for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Mom would usually serve her eggplant with a side of pasta, but I went the panini route:

Consider me comforted.

 

What’s your favorite comfort food?

I’m a sucker for anything carb-y: pasta, bread, you name it, I love it.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2011 7:57 pm

    Towson Univ. used to have a Panini Lady who was a total machine for 3 hours at this exclusive lunch place on campus. They had the most glorious eggplant panini that I have been unable to recreate but crave on a regular basis. The Panini Lady eventually left, and the menu changed and all were saddened.

    I might have to give yours a try.
    Oh! And the Trader Joe’s Eggplant Garlic Spread is just as amazing as I expected from your raving! 🙂 Been meaning to tell you, and this post reminded me!

    • September 12, 2011 8:04 pm

      Definitely try this. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s delicious.

      And so glad you liked the TJ’s spread! More so glad that I’m not crazy for being so in love with it ; )

  2. September 12, 2011 7:58 pm

    We are leading slightly parallel lives. I also made eggplant parm this evening as well, though I did a sort of middle of the road route. I never have the energy to salt and dry the slices so I just slice it as thin as I can, then bread and fry in some olive oil before layering and baking. I may have gone to Venda Ravioli on Federal hill this weekend and spent $55 on fresh pastas, cured meats and espresso.

  3. Sabrina permalink
    September 13, 2011 4:29 am

    That looks delicious! I love the story too.

  4. September 13, 2011 7:14 am

    I’ve never even heard of the pressing stuff and I’m Italian. Eggplant parm is my go-to comfort food for sure. Love it…

    • September 13, 2011 5:42 pm

      My mom swears by the pressing/draining—to get the bitterness out, and also to get a crispier outside apparently. She used to take over the kitchen with layers of eggplant sandwiched between paper towels and our heaviest books. It was awesome.

  5. September 13, 2011 5:45 pm

    looks amazing! anything warm, bready, and cheesy is comfort food to me!

  6. The Teenage Taste permalink
    September 13, 2011 6:11 pm

    I love chicken parm, but eggplant parm is also well-liked by my tastebuds! I love how easy this is to make, too! Thanks for sharing, Hillary!

    • September 13, 2011 6:31 pm

      I love that eggplant tastes meaty, but is totally meat-less! So yummy. Glad you liked it, Erika!

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