2 eggplants, preferably wider ones, rather than taller skinny ones, for a better ‘steak' shape
4 Tbs wholemeal plain flour
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 Tbs finely chopped rosemary
2 Tbs finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
4 Tbs extra virgin oil
1 Tbs baby capers, patted dry with paper towel (optional)
400mL tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
100g English spinach, washed well, finely shredded
1/3 cup pitted green olives, halved (optional)
4 balls of bocconcini cheese, flattened slightly (to help them melt through quickly)
Rocket leaves, to serve (optional)
To make the dish dairy-free, omit the Parmesan and bocconcini.
For a gluten-free parmigiana, use gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs.
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Remove 2cm from the opposite ‘cheeks’ of each eggplant, then cut each eggplant in half lengthways to make two ‘steaks’. Cut the sliced eggplant cheeks into 1.5cm chunks and set aside.
Whisk the eggs in a wide, shallow bowl. Put the flour in another bowl and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. In another wide shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, rosemary and Parmesan, if using, then rub in 3 tablespoons of the oil with your fingertips until it coats the breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Dust each cut side of the eggplant steaks with flour, leaving the skin uncoated. Shake off any excess flour, then dip each cut side into the egg, leaving the skin uncoated and then into the breadcrumb mixture until well coated.
Place the ‘schnitzels’ on the baking tray, the narrower side facing up. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a wide deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped eggplant cheeks, and the capers if using, and cook for 3 minutes, or until lightly golden. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the passata and bring to a simmer. Add the spinach and olives, if using. Stir occasionally for 2 minutes, or until the spinach wilts; keep warm over low heat.
Just before serving, add the bocconcini to the pan of passata, leaving enough space in between each one to allow for easier removal.
Warm through for about 1 minute, or until the cheese has just melted.
Place an eggplant parmigiana on each serving plate, then spoon each bocconcini mound over the centre. Spoon over the sauce and serve immediately, with rocket leaves, if desired.
Credits: Images and Text from Three Veg and Meat by Olivia Andrews, Photography by Phu Tang, Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.
Photo Credits: Phu Tang.