Who loves Eggplant Parmesan?
I know at least some of you are interested in this layered casserole of sautéed, breaded eggplant, cheese, and red sauce.
After all, according to the Google reports I check, "eggplant parmesan" (or "parmigiana") is one of the top 10 recipes people are looking for, nationwide, in July and August.
So what's up with that?
You might say, "Eggplants are ripening on the vine in backyard gardens across America, and gardeners-turned-cooks are trying to figure out what to do with them."
If that's the case, my lone eggplant is a loser.
It went into the ground at the same time as its fellow vegetables: six kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, and Italian peppers.
I've got (green) tomatoes on the vine; plenty of big, yellow blossoms and some teeny-tiny cukes; even a miniature green pepper.
Zero, zip, zilch. Nada. Nothing.
Green leaves, period. Which, obviously, do NOT mirror the color of my thumb.
Maybe along about October, I'll finally have an eggplant in my garden.
But in the meantime, I have lots of gardening friends who are willing to share their bounty with me. I'm sure someone can spare a fresh eggplant or two (right, Kath?)
And once I get my hands on two fat eggplants, here's what I'm going to do:
Turn them into Eggplant Parmesan Calzones.
First, the dough. Place the following in a mixing bowl:
*Use the greater amount in the winter, the lesser amount in the summer, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.
Mix and knead – using your hands, a mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough setting – to make a soft, smooth dough.
Can you make this with whole wheat flour? Try substituting 1/2 cup of whole wheat for 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour, to start; if you like the result, increase the amount of whole wheat flour next time.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or other rising container (an 8-cup measure works well), cover it, and let it rise until it's just about doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
While the dough is rising, prepare the eggplant.
Lightly grease two large baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Slice 2 medium (about 2 pounds) eggplants about 3/8" thick.
Whisk together 1 large egg and 2 tablespoons milk. Pour about 2 cups panko or other coarse bread crumbs into a shallow dish.
Dip each eggplant slice into the egg/milk mixture, and let it drain. Then dip both sides into the bread crumbs.
Lay the slices in a single layer in the prepared pans. Drizzle or spray with olive oil, and season with salt.
Many folks salt and drain their sliced eggplant before cooking, claiming it removes any potential bitterness, and helps prevent sogginess. We tried both salting/draining, and skipping this step. The result? We preferred the unsalted, undrained eggplant; it was nicely moist, compared to the salted. However, if salting/draining is something you've always done, there's no harm in continuing.
Bake the eggplant for 40 minutes, or until it's soft and the crumbs are beginning to brown. Remove it from the oven, and let it cool right on the pan.
Gently deflate the risen dough, and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Divide it in half.
Working with one half at a time, place the dough onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Pat it into an 11" to 12" circle.
Brush the dough with pizza sauce, leaving 1/2" clean all around the edges. Use as much sauce as you like; some prefer just a touch of the red, others like a significant amount.
Arrange half the eggplant, slightly overlapped, on half of the dough circle. It'll seem like a lot of eggplant in a small amount of real estate, but don't worry; it'll settle as the calzones bake. Drizzle (or douse!) the eggplant with additional sauce, if desired. Top with 1 cup shredded or grated mozzarella cheese, or a combination of your favorite pizza cheeses.
Fold the uncovered half of dough over the eggplant and cheese, pressing the edges together to seal. Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top crust, to allow steam to escape.
Repeat with the remaining piece of dough and filling ingredients.
Now, you can either brush the top of the calzones with olive oil, or top with additional pizza sauce and cheese – your choice.
I seldom miss a chance to add more cheese to whatever I'm baking, but in this case – I prefer the plain top crust.
Let the calzones rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 450°F.
Bake the calzones for 18 to 22 minutes, until they're golden brown.
Remove the calzones from the oven...
...and slice into pieces to serve. Accompany with additional pizza sauce, if desired.
Here's another way to approach eggplant Parmesan calzones: simply use leftover eggplant Parmesan as the filling, as I've done here.
To fill each calzone, cut an appropriately-sized slice out of your pan of eggplant Parmesan, lay it onto the dough, and go from there. (Ignore my crust here – it's a failed experiment.)
Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Eggplant Parmesan Calzones.
Print just the recipe.