Eggplant Parmesan – Trader Joe’s Style!

Matt has lacrosse practice one evening a week which means that Bailey and I are left to our own devices.  I usually make some kind of simple, vegetarian meal for myself and then Bailey and I snuggle on the couch and watch TV.  My latest guilty pleasure is the NBC show “Smash” which is about the drama and excitement of Broadway.  I’m sure that Matt is very happy that I watch that when he’s at practice rather than subjecting him to it every week!

For tonight’s meal, I wanted to use up some of the Trader Joe’s Ciliegine Mozzarella and fresh basil that we had left over from our Sausage TBM Pizzas.  After rummaging around in the freezer, I discovered half a box of Trader Joe’s Eggplant Cutlets and some frozen tomato sauce that we made back in February.  So… what do you do with eggplant, mozzarella, basil and tomato sauce?  Make Eggplant Parm, of course!  Granted, I’ve never made Eggplant Parm and I never looked up a recipe (or actually used Parmesan cheese…), but those ingredients came together as a very tasty Eggplant Parmesan “Tower” for one.

Quick and Easy Eggplant Parmesan  (serves one)

You will need…
8 Trader Joe’s Breaded Eggplant Cutlets (or make your own!)
3 Small Mozzarella Balls (I used and recommend TJ’s ciliegine mozzarella balls)
1/4 cup Tomato Sauce (I used some smooth tomato sauce that we froze several weeks ago)
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced into “chips”
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Handful Fresh Baby Spinach (Mine was straight out of my garden, woohoo!)
Sprig of Basil for garnish

Cook the Eggplant according to the package instructions.  For Trader Joe’s Eggplant Cutlets, this involves baking the eggplant slices in a 425° oven for 12-14 minutes.  As soon as the eggplants are done, remove them from the oven and carefully begin to stack them on the baking sheet with the biggest slices at the bottom.  When you get halfway, place one mozzarella ball between the 4th and 5th eggplant, then continue stacking upwards.  Drizzle the stack with a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce then top with a mozzarella ball.  Insert your eggplant tower into the over under the broiler.

Meanwhile, saute the garlic slices in olive oil over medium-high heat until they start to turn golden.  At that point, add the spinach and stir constantly until the spinach wilts.  Remove from heat.

Check on your broiling mozzarella tower.  Once top cheese ball is melted, carefully add another mozzarella ball to the top of the tower and continue to broil until that ball is about 3/4 melted.  Remove the eggplant tower from the oven.

To plate your dish, spoon about 3/4 of your remaining sauce into the center of a plate.  The diameter of your sauce should be slightly larger than your largest “base” eggplant cutlet.  Place your bright green, wilted spinach and garlic chips around the edges of the tomato sauce, then carefully transfer your eggplant tower to the center of your plate.  Spoon the remaining tomato sauce around the top of your eggplant tower so that it drips down the side.  Top with a spring of basil and enjoy!