Saturday, February 15, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan Burgers

I recently discovered that I love eggplant parmesan.  I have actually become a little bit obsessed with it and order it at every single Italian restaurant that offers it (with that said, please note that Il Camino in Leominster by far is the winner of the best eggplant parm!).  Interestingly enough, I haven't actually tried to make it myself.  Being an eggplant park connoisseur these days, I think I am afraid to make one that doesn't rival Il Camino's.  Do you have an excellent go-to recipe for me?

Meanwhile, I came across this recipe on Annie's Eats.  She says she loves eggplant parm but not all the work and labor that goes into making it, so she streamlined the process and came up with these sandwiches, which she says replicates the taste perfectly but in a more portable, less labor-intensive way!  I was intrigued by the idea of a veggie burger based on eggplant, since my eggplant balls back in the fall were so good.  Plus with my new obsession for eggplant parm, what more could I ask for?  They became my lunch plan for yesterday - a second-in-a-row snow day that kicked off February vacation!

The burgers are made from boiled eggplant, chopped up and mixed with panko bread crumbs, fresh parsley and basil, grated Parmesan, garlic, and eggs.  Unfortunately my basil rotted in the fridge so I had to used dried, and I realized that I only had pecorino romano, but hey, no panicking on my part.  The burgers came together pretty easily, and they get seared in the pan quickly and then baked just for a few minutes to heat up the sauce and cheese that you dollop on top.  I will say that I probably could have seared them a little bit longer, to keep them extra crispy, but I am notoriously awful at pan-frying burgers of any sort so I was a little sear-shy!  Then into the oven they went.

I ended up adding a little more warmed sauce to each roll, and a little more mozzarella, and then... boom.  Lunch time.  I was happy with them, and so were Mom and Kenzie.  Surprisingly, Rachael was especially thrilled with them and just asked me to heat her up another for lunch today!  I didn't think they had that "eggplant parm" taste, but then again it's probably due to the lack of basil and parmesan (duh).  Either way, they were tasty, hearty, and filling.  We aren't quite sure why - I even Googled whether or not eggplant has some bizarre amount of protein or something - but after eating them, none of us were ready for dinner until well after 9:00 that night.  Weird, I know, but something in these babies really fills you up!

They're definitely a good shortcut whiny you're craving eggplant parmesan and you just don't have the time for the real deal!  But the real deal is one of my goals :)


eggplant parmesan burgers
from Annie's Eats
yield 6-8 burgers

2 large eggplants (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut ino 1-inch cubes
kosher salt
2 cups panko
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
marinara sauce, about 3/4 cup
sliced mozzarella cheese
burger buns, sliced and toasted


1) Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add the eggplant to the pot and cook, stirring frequently to make sure the eggplant cubes all get submerged. Cook until the cubes are softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Drain in a colander and let cool.  Once cool enough to handle, spread between layers of clean kitchen towels or multiple layers of paper towels and press out as much excess liquid as possible.  Once the eggplant is drained, transfer to a cutting board and chop finely.

2) Transfer the chopped eggplant to a large bowl.  Add the panko, Parmesan, parsley, basil and garlic to the bowl.  Stir in the eggs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Form the mixture into six to eight patties.

3) Preheat the oven to 450˚ F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the patties to the skillet and cook, turning once, until the burgers are browned on both sides.  (Add the additional 1 tablespoon of oil when you flip the burgers, if necessary.)  Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the patties to the baking sheet.  Top each patty with a few tablespoons of marinara sauce and a layer of sliced mozzarella.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Assemble with burger buns and any other desired toppings.

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