Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan
I've never made deconstructed anything before -- at least not intentionally. But I had plans to make eggplant parmesan at the same time a recipe for deconstructed eggplant parmesan showed up on NYTimes.com, so I figured I'd give it a whirl.
A deconstructed dish typically takes all of the elements of the original dish apart and puts them together in a new way. With that in mind, I made some changes to the NYTimes.com recipe -- the main one being that I didn't use any ricotta because I never use ricotta when I make eggplant parmesan. It seemed like an odd addition. I would use ricotta in lasagna but not in my chicken or eggplant parmesan. The other changes had more to do with the cooking method or ingredients I happened to have available.
Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan (adapted from NYTimes.com)
1 large eggplant, sliced in 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
Olive oil for frying (about 3/4 cup)
5 garlic cloves
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, diced
4 sprigs oregano
3 sprigs basil, plus extra leaves for garnish
5 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 cup panko
Shredded mozzarella, for topping
Season the eggplant slices with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and place them in a colander set over a bowl. Let stand 10 minutes, then pat dry with a paper towel, and season with salt and pepper.
Working in batches, heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add as much eggplant as will fit in the skillet in one layer, and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the eggplant slices, and cook them for another 3 to 4 minutes, until dark golden brown. Transfer slices to a paper towel-lined plate, and repeat with remaining eggplant slices, adding more oil as necessary.
Reduce heat to medium and add or remove some oil until there's about 3 tablespoons in the skillet.
Smash and peel 4 garlic cloves, and add them to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown.
Carefully add the tomatoes. (The oil may sputter a little.) Then add the oregano, and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in the basil sprigs and 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
While the sauce simmers (or while the eggplant is frying if you like multitasking), in a small skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mince 1 garlic clove, and add the garlic to the skillet along with the panko. Toast until panko is golden brown, stirring frequently. Turn off heat, and stir in 1 tablespoon Parmesan and a pinch of salt.
Remove the oregano and basil sprigs and smashed garlic from the sauce.
Arrange the eggplant on a platter (or on plates to make individual servings), and top with the sauce. Toss the panko mixture and then some mozzarella on top, and garnish with basil.
I actually planned to make the eggplant parmesan to bring for lunch at work, so I ended up taking the deconstructed elements and building them into stacks in my lunch containers.
Have you made a deconstructed version of anything?