I have been incredibly successful this year in my garden with squash and zucchini. To say the same about my Japanese eggplant would be an understatement. To date, this is been my most plentiful year yet!
I have really gotten tired of all the traditional and zoodle recipes to prepare summer squash at this point, so I was looking for something that would bring me extreme comfort. This mashup of Eggplant Parm and ratatouille really hit the spot for me, and I hope it does for you as well.
If you do not yet have time, space, or patience for a garden, remember that store brought is fine. Somebody grew it so you don’t have to, love. Also, maybe you do not want the people in your neighborhood looking around suspiciously when they find bags of veggies on the doorknob. That’s cool.
Not Your Donna’s Ratatouille (Vegetable Parmigiana)
Yield: 4 servings if served as an entrée, 8 if served as a side
I feel the utmost pride in sharing this recipe with all of you, because not only were all the vegetables grown by me (#urbanfarmhouse), but the eggs in the breading process were from my very own inner city chickens. And? I made the sauce from garden tomatoes!
1 lb Each
2 each Eggs, or egg substitute if you’re vegan
½ cup Milk, “milk like substitute”, or water, in a pinch, because really, it ain’t that serious
3 cups Bread crumbs- seriously, ANY kind you want. Italian, plain, homemade, ect. For example- I used homemade gluten free breadcrumbs, cause I’m a domestic goddess (this is a lie, I have Colitis and my stomach STAY hurting)
½ cup Flour or Cornstarch
1 Qt (ish) Oil, for frying
To Taste- Salt, Pepper, Garlic Granules, Italian Seasoning
16 oz, plus extra if you like a little sauce on the side- Marinara- Jar is fine, I promise no one knows or cares that it’s not from scratch.
ALL THE CHEESE- Parmesan, Asiago, Mozzarella, Fontina- the good stuff. I mean this with all my heart: DO NOT PLAY YOURSELF ON THE CHEESE. USE THE GOOD CHEESE. Go to the deli. Cheat on the national brand, they don’t love you, they just love your reliability! YOLO on the cheese. Shred it, shave it, crumble it, slice it. Even vegan cheese is fine.
1 TB Fresh parsley and basil, for garnish, and maybe a little more to jazz up your store brought sauce a little, because fresh herbs legit make everything taste homemade.
Slice all veggies about ½ inch thick. Season them. The ancestors will tell you when to stop.
Create a “quick” breading station:
1. Put veggies in a bowl. Season flour, toss into bowl with veggies, and mix until all veggies are coated.
2. Mix eggs and milk, and season to taste. Pour into bowl with veggies and flour mixture, mix until all veggies are coated. Veggies at this point will be sticky af, but that’s the point- the breadcrumbs are going to adhere like a charm.
3. Use a separate bowl, plastic container with lid, or zipper top bag (or a grocery bag if you roll like that- no judgement), add breadcrumbs- seasoned.
4. Toss in a few wet veggies at a time, until all breadcrumbs are coated and ready to fry. Adding too many will immediately turn your breadcrumb mixture to mush, and it will not coat your veggies. Trust me- do a few at a time, your patience will be rewarded.
Note: I tend to multitask on doing this step as I am frying the veggies I already coated in previous batches/ handfuls. There is no harm in doing them all before you fry, or doing them in batches while you fry, like I do. It really is your world.
Heat oil in a pan to 350 degrees.
Fry veggies in batches for about 3 minutes each batch, stirring and flipping veggies as needed to make sure both sides are crisp and done, draining them on a rack or on paper afterwards. Do not crowd the veggies while frying or while draining, because the moisture from the veggies will make the crusty deliciousness fall off, and you WILL be distraught.
Just a sec- lemme go measure my casserole dish.
If ya bourgeois, use a 12/8 inch casserole dish to line up sliced, fried veggies, alternating the veggies (think: squash, eggplant, zucchini… squash, eggplant, zucchini…).
If you are not feeling fancy, this is fine, you are not a rat in a movie, trying to impress a food critic. If you are, that is fine, too. But you not. A rat in the kitchen? Nah.
Just put the veggies in a pan or casserole dish and get ready to make it rain with all your cheese.
After the veggies are added to the pan according to your liking, pour a thin layer of sauce over the veggies and top with a mountain of the aforementioned cheeses. For real, treat yoself. Cheese is life. Even if its vegan. Like, if not? WHY WOULD THERE EVEN BE VEGAN CHEESE? Think about that while you add more cheese.
Fun Fact: I used to maintain a cheese room with a cheese cart at a very popular country club here in Atlanta. I love cheese. I can talk charcuterie for days.
Stick the pan in the oven under the broiler setting to melt the cheese. DO NOT walk away, all your work will be in vain if you burn this now.
STARE AT IT. Do not look away. Watch the cheese until it melts and bubbles.
I do not suggest baking the pan in an oven because right now it is August in Atlanta, and anyone who wants you to preheat an oven during summer in the south does not love you.
When cheese melts, remove pan from oven and garnish with fresh herbs.
Serve as an entrée, or as a side with your fave pasta dish, a salad, or whatever you like. I ate it with a fork from the pan.
To save on dishes.
And also to establish dominance.
But you do you.