Eggplant Parm Mac and Cheese Is Perfect Comfort Food
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Eggplant is a healthful vegetable that’s low in calories and full of vitamins, but it’s also secretly one of the best junk food snacks you’ll ever find. Fried eggplant with a crispy breadcrumb coating is like a mozzarella stick that grows out of the ground. It’s crunchy and salty on the outside, and soft and creamy on the inside. Fried eggplant even makes a great topping for pizza and pasta, like this eggplant Parmesan-inspired macaroni and cheese.
This recipe has a noble goal: Get that creamy, crispy, fried-eggplant taste without actually deep-frying anything. The “no-fry” solution is a little complicated, though. Start by putting a large, rimmed baking sheet in a hot oven for 10 minutes. While the empty baking sheet heats up, you can prepare the eggplant.
Peel one large or two small eggplants, then cut them into half-inch slices and cut those slices into quarters. Whisk a couple of eggs with salt and pepper, minced garlic, and dried oregano, then toss your eggplant slices in the egg mixture until they’re all fully coated. Then press each piece in panko breadcrumbs so they’re coated on all sides.
Then take the hot pan out of the stove and fill it with olive oil. Lay the eggplant in the olive oil, which should come about halfway up each slice of eggplant, and put it in the oven to “roast.” Then flip all the slices over with a spatula and let them cook some more. At that point they should be fully golden and crispy all over and look and taste just like traditionally fried eggplant.
Once you have your crispy eggplant chunks, it’ll be tempting to eat them like popcorn before the rest of the dish is ready, but try to hold off because eggplant Parmesan macaroni and cheese is worth it.
While the eggplant cooks in the oven, prepare a sauce by cooking some flour in butter, then pouring in milk and letting it thicken. Stir in grated Parmesan, salt, and pepper to create your cheese sauce. Toss cooked pasta in the sauce and arrange it in a baking dish, then cover that with all your eggplant and any leftover bits of crispy breading. Cover all that with a thick layer of marinara sauce and some mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, and bake it until it’s hot and the cheese is melted. The result is a rich, hearty meal with a cheesy crunch that’s pure comfort food.
Get the recipe: Eggplant Parmesan Mac and Cheese from Family Style Food