Everyone loves a good dinner party. I mean, who doesn’t? What better excuse is there to get together with friends and family, and, if you’re anything like me, cook something that you wouldn’t cook just for yourself? While finding something that will both serve and please a crowd is often an obstacle, things can get even trickier if you are cooking for vegetarians. As a host, you want to feed your guests food that is satisfying, but as a college student, you also don’t want to break your bank by buying a number of ingredients as compensation for not serving meat. So, faced with this dilemma, I took a trip to the farmer’s market and ultimately decided to try my hand at a classic: eggplant parmesan.
While making a big bowl of pasta might be the easiest option when cooking for your vegetarian friends, sometimes it’s nice to get a little more creative. This recipe for eggplant parmesan is easy to make and has been a hit every time I’ve made it – it’s bound to earn you rave reviews as well! However, you will want to serve it as part of a complete vegetarian menu. Here are some other components of a dinner party that’s sure to please:
Feeling ambitious? Try your hand at making your own gnocchi and serve your guests in true Italian style!
For dinner parties during the fall and winter, this is a great way to get creative when serving something as traditional as soup.
Roasted Beet and and Carrot Panzanella
Seasonal food is always a key to making healthy dishes, and this time of the year is the perfect time to take advantage of the comforting flavors of fall! Make good use of your root vegetables and try this variation on panzanella.
Moroccan Spaghetti Squash
Spice up your dinner party with this Middle Eastern inspired dish.
Nutty Quinoa Cakes with Basil and Parmesan
Having adventurous friends over for dinner? Serve them this classy and unique recipe that uses quinoa, one of SKC’s favorite grains.
Sarah McAnaw is a junior at American University where she’s working towards getting a degree in International Studies and cooking for friends. She is studying in Florence, Italy this fall where she is immersing herself in art, culture and, of course, authentic Italian cooking.
Adapted from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible by Victoria Blashford-Snell
Note: The original recipe dips the eggplant first in flour, then in egg, then in flour again. I have also seen recipes that dredge the eggplant first in flour and then in the egg. I find these processes messy and a little too heavy, so I dip the eggplant in the egg and then the flour to save myself some mess, but any way is fine.
½ cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
2 large eggplants, cut lengthwise into ½ inch slices
¼ cup olive oil, plus more if needed
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups tomato sauce
10 ounces mozzarella, drained and sliced
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
good handful of basil leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Spread flour out on a plate. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. One at a time, dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge the egg-washed eggplant in the flour and shake off the excess. Repeat this process until all of the eggplant slices have been covered.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the eggplant slices until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Drain each batch well on paper towels.
Pour the tomato sauce into a casserole dish, making sure you have enough to cover the bottom. Layer the eggplant slices, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil leaves on top of the sauce, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Repeat the layering process until all of the ingredients have been used up and the casserole dish is full, finishing with a layer of tomato sauce and top with the cheeses.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Serve warm and enjoy!