Bowl of Food: Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Creamy Polenta
Here’s a little bonus to old age that they don’t tell you about: you start to enjoy some of the foods you once thought you hated.
It is in fact delicious when cooked to crisp and tender in the oven. My twelve year old self would roll her eyes in disbelief. She thinks it’s a used dish sponge masquerading as food on a plate. It’s the texture we have to wrangle, and now we know what’s up
It’s dinner. Cozy and all. Let’s do it.
Other foods we’ve put in bowls:
(Oh… if you’re not into bowls, go ahead and use whatever plate-y type thing you like. The point is… we should make very good dinners as often as we can.)
Here’s what’s in this Bowl of Food:
• Fresh eggplant, sliced thick, coated in panko and baked to crisp.
• Creamy polenta, cooked with milk to thick and creamy.
• Fresh basil and salty parmesan, for topping / for flavor.
Pantry staples to build our cupboards for now and for the future:
Recipes that also use these ingredients:
How’s all that for inspiration?
Now… the only downside of this recipe is that it requires three bowls and one dirty hand. There’s no way around it.
One bowl for seasoned flour. One bowl for beaten egg. One bowl for crunchy panko crumbs that we’ll season well.
The eggplant is sliced into hearty 1/2-inch slices, first dipped in flour, then egg, then panko on both sides.
The slices are placed on a wire rack atop a sheet pan.
The wire rack will ensure that the eggplant slices cook evenly on both sides. No soggy bottoms here.
Before the slices are baked, they’re drizzled generously with olive oil.
In the oven they’ll bake to crisp outsides and tender insides. Baked eggplant has an earthy, buttery quality. Really delicious inside these crunchy shells.
Easy creamy polenta is simmered on the stove top.
You can add milk or not. Add water or broth. Add butter and herbs. Polenta is super flexible to your taste.
My advice? Add milk and make a big batch. It makes for lovely leftover with poached egg and spinach.
Creamy polenta is spooned into two bowls.
Baked eggplant on top.
And an easy tomato topping made with canned tomatoes (the sort with added Italian seasoning). I gussy up a canned tomato sauce my adding a dab of butter as it warms and season with a dash more sea salt and black pepper.
Fresh basil and parmesan to top and that’s dinner!
Simple, healthful, comforting and look at us… doing it up right at dinnertime.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups whole milk (you could also just use water, vegetable or chicken broth here)
- scant 1 teaspoon salt (a bit less if you're using a broth)
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 medium eggplant (large enough to get 6 to 8 1/2-inch slices)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- olive oil for coating
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomato with Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- fresh basil for topping
- To make the polenta, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water and milk (or more water or broth) to a simmer.
- Add the salt and slowly whisk in the polenta. Lower the heat to medium-low and bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in the butter and allow the polenta to simmer and thicken for 30 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, add fresh cracked black pepper, remove from heat, cover, and allow to rest while you make the eggplant.
- When ready to serve, remove the lid and whisk the polenta well before spooning into bowls.
- To make the eggplant place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place a baking rack over a half-sheet baking tray and set aside.
- Wash the outside of the eggplant and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices.
- Set out three medium bowls. In one bowl whisk together flour with two big pinches of salt and pepper. In another bowl place eggs and beat well. In the final bowl place bread crumbs, oregano, parmesan, and a few good pinches of salt and pepper.
- First dip an eggplant slice into the flour mixture, lightly coating both sides.
- Next dip into the beaten egg, lightly coating on both sides.
- Finally dip the eggplant in the panko mixture, coating both sides, and pressing lightly with your fingers to evenly coat the eggplant slices. Place on the wire rack. Dip all of the eggplant slices, placing on the wire rack to bake.
- Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place in the oven to bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 18-22 minutes.
- While the eggplant bakes, place diced tomatoes and butter in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until warmed. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- To serve, in a medium serving bowl spoon warm polenta. Top with crisp eggplant slices and warm tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh torn basil. Enjoy!
- This recipe makes more polenta that you'll need for the two servings indicated. I like to refrigerate the leftover polenta and enjoy it the next day with over easy eggs for breakfast. Reheat chilled polenta by adding a bit more water or milk and reheating in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Stir until smooth and heated through