Me:1, Eggplant: 0

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I had this eggplant and no idea what to do with it. It would stare at me when I opened my refrigerator and judge me. It basically yelled at me everyday to cook it, but I was scared. It’s a giant purple plant! I just didn’t know what to do with something that looks like it could have been a prop from the “Teletubbies.”
I still don’t know why I bought it. It’s not like I love eggplants. I was walking through the produce, saw eggplants, and said “I heard eggplants are healthy- I’ll buy one!” I thought I’d be all impressive and grown up and sophisticated for cooking an eggplant. I should have known it was going to be a problem when the highly efficient (even if not very friendly) Wal Mart cashier couldn’t figure out how to ring it up. Only people who shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Publix buy eggplants I guess. WRONG.
Ladies and gents, I have crossed a new threshold in life. I am now an adult. I can cook an eggplant. Granted, there were moments of insecurity. Moments when I didn’t know if I or that stupid eggplant would make it. But we did. I cooked the hell out of that eggplant and it was delicious!
I combined recipes that I found online and created a monster of cheesy, eggplanty goodness that I doubt I will ever be able to recreate. Introducing….Eggplant parmesan beef casserole. (I just made that name up). Here’s my recipe.
To make this masterpiece you need:
  • 1 bigass eggplant
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • Pasta
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Mozerella cheese (optional, but I highly recommend it)
Steps:
  1. Show that eggplant who is boss. Peel that thing. Then, slice it.
  2.  I read online you’re supposed to salt the egglpant. So do that. I soaked the slices in salt water for like 30 minutes. Then, put them in a colander over a bowl and place another bowl on top of the slices. This is supposed to push the extra moisture out of the eggplant. I left it for an hour on accident because I got caught up in the new Taylor Swift CD and forgot about them. Do that if you want, it didn’t matter. That eggplant wasn’t going anywhere. (Sidenote: This is supposed to make the eggplant more tender, but I honestly think you could skip this step. I probably will next time.)
  3.  Ew, wash it off! That bowl had gross brown liquid in it. I know this is probably counter-productive to squeezing moisture out, but I rinsed the eggplant off a little and laid the slices on a paper towel covered plate.
  4. Get 3 bowls. Fill one with a cup of flour, dash of salt, dash of pepper, dash of garlic powder, and some parmesan cheese. Fill the next bowl with one cup of water and whisk one egg into this water to create an egg wash. The last bowl will just have bread crumbs/panko/whatever you have. I ended up using about 1 1/2 cups of breadcrumbs in the end, but started with just 1 cup in the bowl.
  5. Start water boiling for pasta and begin browning ground beef.
  6. Dip the eggplant slices in the flour bowl mixture, then egg wash, and lastly coat with crumbs. Repeat until all slices are done.
  7. Once ground beef is browned, pour almost an entire jar (26-28 oz) of spaghetti sauce of your choice in with the meat. Reserve enough to cover the bottom of a 9 X 13 casserole dish. Allow the meat sauce to simmer, just warm enough to heat it all up without burning anything.
  8. Boil spaghetti noodles or noodles of choice. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you an amount. I boiled like a handful? I’m sorry, I don’t know. Anyway, I cooked mine completely through, but you could leave it al dente and allow them to cook in the casserole too. Just get them boiling and mostly done if not completely done.
  9. While noodles are boiling, heat up some olive oil in a pan. This will be used for frying the eggplant, so make sure it covers the bottom, but isn’t too deep. I added more as I went, so less is better in my opinion.
  10. Fry eggplant slices until both sides are golden colored. The eggplant will get very tender. Place on a paper towel covered  late to let them drain. Start preheating your oven to 350 degrees while frying so it’s ready to go when you’re done.
  11. Once everything is cooked, drain pasta and stir in a little olive oil so it doesn’t dry out and stick together.
  12. Pour the reserved sauce into the bottom of your casserole pan. Dump all the pasta on top of that. Pour the meat sauce mixture on top of the pasta. Then, place the fried eggplant slices on top of the meat sauce. Cover with shredded parmesan and mozzerella cheese and put in the oven for 20 minutes.
  13. Drink a lot of wine and pat yourself on the back. Call your mother. Tell her you cooked an eggplant. Call your significant other. Ask him/her to pick up more wine on their way home. You are now a responsible adult.
All joking aside, it was delicious but took FOREVER. When I made this it was raining really hard outside and this was a great comfort food. We had this as a one-dish meal and it was enough. I will definitely try to make this again. So go buy an eggplant (even at Wal Mart) and cook it!
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