This may be one of the easiest, most delicious and satisfying meals I've ever made.
In our efforts to eat less and less meat (we're cutting our consumption down to 2-3 times per week), I have been experimenting with new-to-me foods.
Eggplant isn't necessarily new to me, I've eaten it many, many times. I've just not ever prepared it.
It's astonishingly easy to prepare. And super healthy. A whole, unpeeled eggplant (which I can easily eat myself) has 19 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. It's also loaded with a some good vitamins as well. And because it's so filling, it's a satisfying substitute for meat.
My sister, who told me how to make this dish, advised salting the eggplant first. She said she's made eggplant both ways (salting and without salting) and she always regrets not salting. According to my cooking Bible, The Joy of Cooking, salting is not always necessary. And the Google U answers were mixed.
I erred on the side of caution and salted. Salting eggplant draws out the bitter juices that eggplant is sometimes known for.
First, I washed my eggplants but did not peel them. I sliced them into rounds and generously salted (with Kosher salt) them. I layered them in a colander and placed a plate on top of them which I weighted with a heavy can.
I let them salt (aka sweating) for half an hour. My sister tells me another option is to salt them and place them in a Ziploc baggie in the fridge and let them salt for several hours. I'll probably do that next time.
Next, thoroughly rinse them to remove all the salt. Some of my slices were not rinsed all the way and definitely tasted too salty.
Then, I put some minced garlic in olive oil and brushed that on top of my eggplant rounds.
I placed them in the oven at 400 degrees and let them bake until they were soft. Maybe about 15 minutes. It doesn't matter how long you bake them. It's a vegetable - bake them till they look/feel like what works for you.
Meanwhile, at some point make some marinara sauce (or open a jar - whatever suits you). I make a simple marinara by sauteing fresh onions and garlic in olive oil, adding tomato sauce and "Italian" herbs (like basil and oregano), and just letting it simmer.
Serve warm, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and enjoy.
We loved this dish so much it's going into frequent rotation.