Flexitarian Eggplant Parm’wich

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Fan-favourite Joshna Maharaj introduces us to the world of flexitarian cooking with a modern twist on an Italian classic: eggplant parmigiana!

Flexitarianism champions a primarily vegetarian diet, but allows for a little meat here and there. That's particularly good news for vegetarians and meat-lovers under the same roof, who can now live happily ever after in food harmony!

Get your flex on tonight with this delish sandwich recipe, which is as tasty with chicken as it is with tofu!

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Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwiches with Chicken or Tofu
Makes 4 (2 chicken and 2 tofu sandwiches)

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 4-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
2 pieces firm, smoked tofu, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs, whisked
2 cups panko
vegetable oil for frying
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 each sweet red bell pepper and yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 hot banana pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup tomato sauce
8 slices provolone cheese
4 cups baby arugula
1 lemon, juiced
4 crusty Italian rolls, cut in half lengthwise, leaving one side attached
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Spread eggplant slices out on a tray. Sprinkle with kosher salt and stack in a colander. Place colander in a bowl, top eggplant with a plate and weigh down with a large can to press the slices. Strain for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight in fridge. Discard water.

2. Spread tofu in a single layer on a Sponge Towel-lined baking sheet. Cover with more Sponge Towels and top with another baking sheet. Weigh down with a large pan to press the water out of tofu. Press for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight in fridge.

3. Pat dehydrated slices of eggplant dry with a Sponge Towel. Set up breading station in shallow dishes. Place the flour in the first, eggs in the second, and panko in the third dish. Season all three bowls with a pinch of salt and pepper.

4. Starting with eggplant, dip slices into the flour, then the egg, then the panko and place on a tray. Repeat with tofu, and lastly, chicken, placing chicken on a separate tray.

5. Coat bottom of a high-sided sauté pan with about 1/4-inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high. Fry slices, starting with eggplant, for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp. Cook in batches as needed, remove from oil and drain on Sponge Towel-lined baking tray. Repeat with tofu and chicken. (To hold: Transfer onto parchment lined baking sheet, keep warm in a 250 F oven.)

6. In second skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet peppers, onions and hot peppers. Sauté until onions are translucent and just slightly brown, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

7. In a small saucepan, bring tomato sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm. Toss arugula with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

1. Arrange 1 slice of chicken or 2 slices of tofu, then 2-3 slices of eggplant on the bottom bun. Top each sandwich with 1/4 of pepper and onion mixture, 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 2 slices of provolone, 1 cup of arugula and sandwich with top.

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