Eggplant Polenta Stacks
- 3 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
- 1 cup grits
- 4 small eggplant
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoons pepper
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon sea salt and pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil if frying eggplant in a skillet
- 2 cups Quick Marinara Sauce see below
- 1 cup Parmesan
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella or mild cheddar cheese
QUICK MARINARA SAUCE
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup onions finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds about 6 tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped basil
- Salt, pepper, sugar to taste
TO MAKE POLENTA
- Boil water and stir in 1 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and grits. Turn heat to low and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Continue to cook about 5 minutes until thickened. Turn off heat and pour into a greased 8- x 12-inch pan. Refrigerate.
TO PREPARE THE EGGPLANT
- First peel and then slice eggplant into ¾-inch slices. Set aside for the 3-step dredging process. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl big enough for dipping the eggplant and set aside.
- Mix 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon each salt, and pepper in a bowl big enough for dipping the eggplant and set aside.
- Pour 2 cups Panko bread crumbs into another bowl big enough for dredging the eggplant.
- Get a skillet or air fryer ready, get your assembly line ready.
- Dip eggplant slices in flour mixture, eggs, and then Panko. Place on a clean plate until you have enough to deep fry or air fry a batch that will comfortably fit into your pan. It helps to put them in at the same time so they cook simultaneously.
- If frying eggplant, heat ¼ cup olive oil in a frying pan. Add coated eggplant slices and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes per side, until tender in the middle. If using an air-fryer, cook on 400° for 5 minutes on each side. Repeat until they are all cooked.
TO MAKE THE STACKS
- Preheat oven to 400°. Take the cooled polenta out of the fridge and cut into rounds to match the size of the eggplant slices. You can use an empty tomato paste can to make a small round patty or a biscuit cutter depending on the size of your eggplant.
- To assemble polenta stacks, place polenta on a sheet pan, top with Parmesan, next eggplant, and then top with marinara and cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Serve as the vegetarian entree choice.
TO MAKE THE QUICK MARINARA SAUCE
- Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes. Before blanching I like to core the tomatoes and cut an X in the bottom, then place them in the boiling water. After 3-5 minutes, the skins will start to peel off. That is when they are ready to be placed in a bowl of cold water. Let the tomatoes cool, then peel them, slice them in half, and squeeze the halves out over the sink to get rid of all the seeds and excess liquid. Then chop into 1-inch chunks.
- Sauté the onions and garlic in a large sauté pan. When the onions are translucent and starting to brown, about 5-10 minutes, add the tomatoes and stir well. Let mixture simmer for a while, and add the basil. Taste the sauce and, if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons of sugar plus salt and pepper to taste
- Serve on top of polenta, eggplant, spaghetti squash, pasta, or meatballs.
Redding resident Sadie Krueger has been cooking professionally for twenty-four years, including in the nutrition and healthcare industry for ten of those years. After witnessing the devastating effects of diet and lifestyle choices and the healing benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle, she now loves creating plant based recipes using local, organic produce to improve the health of her clients, family, and friends.