Florentine-Style Baked Eggplant 'Parm'
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- 2 firm, heavy eggplant, sliced ½ inch think 10-12 slices per eggplant
- Flour, for dredging, about 1 cup
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup panko or large homemade breadcrumbs
- 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
- 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling
- Olive oil natural cooking spray or olive oil, for drizzling
For the Creamed Spinach:
- For the Creamed Spinach:
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 3 large shallots, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
- 3 ounces Boursin herb soft cheese or cream cheese
- About 1/3 cup half-and-half or whole milk
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large, 16-ounce bag chopped organic frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung dry
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of fat handfuls
For the Mushrooms:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup brandy or dry sherry
For the Béchamel Sauce:
- For the Béchamel Sauce:
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups warm milk
- Salt and pepper
- Nutmeg, grated to taste
- For sprinkling: 2 cups shredded Fontina or mozzarella cheese
Salt eggplant and let drain on kitchen towels for 30 minutes; press out excess liquid.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Set up breading station: Season flour with salt and pepper in shallow dish. Whisk up eggs in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Combine panko, fine crumbs, salt, pepper, 1 cup of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and parsley in another dish. If not using cooking spray, moisten the bread with olive oil. Coat eggplant in flour, egg then breadcrumb mixture. Arrange on 2 large baking sheets, spray liberally with cooking spray (if using) on both sides. Bake eggplant 10-12 minutes then turn and bake 10-12 minutes more until crispy and brown on both sides.
For the creamed spinach, heat a medium skillet over medium heat with oil, 2 turns of the pan. Add shallots and garlic, and soften 3-5 minutes. Add Boursin or cream cheese and melt; add half-and-half to thin a bit. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add spinach and heat through; fold in grated cheese.
For the mushrooms, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with olive oil, two turns of the pan. Add mushrooms and brown; season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the mushrooms with brandy or dry sherry.
For the béchamel, melt butter in a saucepot over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook a minute or two. Pour in warm milk and thicken, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Switch on broiler and place a rack in the center of oven.
Make stacks of a slice of crispy eggplant, some spinach, mushrooms, another slice of eggplant, a dollop or two of sauce and a sprinkle each of Fontina or mozzarella and some Parmigiano-Reggiano. Arrange stacks in large shallow casserole or lasagna pan and carefully broil until tops are lightly browned and bubbly.