If Eggplant Parmesan and Eggs Benedict Had a One Night Stand
Eggplant Parmesan is one of those dishes that require a certain level of commitment. Prepping the fried eggplant slices, making the sauce, and grating the cheese all require some effort and time. And I’m certain that any Italian nonna knows exactly how to create the precise amounts of each of these key elements to end up with one perfect family-sized pan of parm.
I am not an Italian nonna, so on the rare occasion I indulge in this recipe I am inevitably left with between one and four extra slices of breaded and fried eggplant, a cup or two of sauce, and a handful of grated cheese. While a lot of people would just assemble a personal-sized parm for the freezer, I find that those thawed and reheated versions lack the satisfaction of the fresh stuff. So, what to do with those extras?
Eggplant Parmedict is what.
I amped up the usual English muffin base with garlic herb butter after toasting (but regular butter and a shake of garlic salt would suffice). A bed of marinara, a slice of breaded eggplant broiled with mozzarella, an egg, and a quick mornay sauce made with Parmesan come together without a lot of fuss. It’s an accidental Italian-inspired morning indulgence so delicious that I have to recommend it as its own dish. If you are planning on making Eggplant Parmesan, you might want to ensure some extras, but I figured I’d better share a recipe that could stand on its own.
For the mornay sauce:
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, heat the mill over medium low heat to a gentle simmer. Turn the heat to low while you prep the roux.
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has stopped foaming, sprinkle the flour over the top and cook, whisking constantly for about a minute, until it smells nutty and has stopped looking paste-like and is more liquid and bubbling. Slowly pour in the warm milk, whisking firmly, to incorporate all of the milk. Once smooth, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is as thick as you would like.
Remove from heat, and whisk in the Parmesan. Add 3-4 grindings of black pepper and taste for seasoning. (The Parmesan is salty, so it might not need extra salt.) Set aside to stay warm. You can make this ahead and reheat in a double boiler if you like.
For the eggplant:
1 small eggplant, hopefully the width of an English muffin
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
4 thin slices fresh mozzarella
Slice the top and bottom off of the eggplant, and slice 4 ¾-inch thick slices from the middle. Place the slices in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle salt generously over them, tossing to get them all coated, and let rest in the colander for 30 minutes to remove some of the excess water. Once the eggplant has drained, lay out on paper toweling and pat dry.
Preheat the broiler in your oven to high and place a rack in the top third.
Set up a dredging station with 3 shallow bowls, 1 with flour, 1 with the eggs, 1 with the breadcrumbs mixed with the herb mix. Season the eggplant with pepper on both sides (you’ve already salted it) and dredge each piece first in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs, pressing down to be sure the crumbs stick to the slices. Set these aside.
Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, fry the eggplant slices until golden brown on both sides and tender, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a rack over a sheet pan and top each piece with a slice of mozzarella. Broil with the oven door open until the mozzarella has melted and gotten golden brown. Remove the slices from the oven and set aside.
2 English muffins
2 tablespoons herb garlic butter (or 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon garlic salt)
4 eggs, cooked in your desired style and to your preferred doneness. Poached is the classic, but fried works well, and I am partial to scrambled
1/2 cup marinara or meat sauce, warmed (if you have fresh, great, but jarred is fine here)
Chopped parsley or basil to garnish (optional)
Split the English muffins and toast lightly. Spread each with 1/2 tablespoon herb garlic butter (or regular butter and then sprinkled with the garlic salt). Top each muffin with a spoonful of the marinara, and then a slice of eggplant. Place the egg of your choosing on top of each and gently spoon the mornay sauce over the eggs. Sprinkle a bit of chopped basil or parsley over the top before serving hot.