Microwaved Eggplant Parmesan

Recipe • January 8, 2013

I decided to make our Microwaved Eggplant Parmesan the moment I tried it. I was at the lab, meeting with Maxime Bilet and our Managing Editor for Modernist Cuisine at Home, Tracy Cutchlow. Anjana Shanker, one of our Developmental Chefs, had prepared the eggplant Parmesan and brought it over for Max to taste test. She also offered a spoonful to Tracy and me. I was sold on the recipe with just that one spoonful. It’s a very easy dish to make on short notice. Your guests will be impressed with what you can do using a microwave.

Jennifer Sugden, Production Editor of Modernist Cuisine at Home

For more about microwaves, including how they work and why we think they’re so great, check out this week’s article in The New York Times.


Recipe


Eggplant Parmesan, Step 2

 

Lightly brush both sides of the eggplant slices before microwaving.

Marinara, Step 4

 

We prefer our pressure-cooked marinara from Modernist Cuisine at Home, but you can use your favorite brand too.

Microwaved Eggplant Parmesan, Step 6A

 

We recommend using full-fat ricotta cheese in this recipe.

Eggplant Parmesan, Step 9B

 

Use scissors to evenly trim the basil.

Eggplant Parmesan, Step 8

 

Microwave the assembled dish at 1,100 watts for 5–6 minutes, until it is hot in the center and bubbly.

Eggplant Parmesan

 

As our Production Editor, Jennifer Sugden says of making this dish, your friends will be impressed by what you can do with a microwave.

Tips & Substitutions

Steps 1– & 2
  • We find Panko bread crumbs work best in this recipe.
Steps 3– -6
  • We tested all of our recipes on a 1,100 watt microwave. Check the user manual or look at the electrical specification plate on your oven to find out how much power your microwave draws on high. Then use the power-level control to adjust the microwave to 1,100 watts. If your microwave’s maximum power level is less than 1,100 watts, that’s all right; foods will just take longer to cook.
  • Make sure the dishes you use are microwave-safe. Most containers won’t actually get hot in the microwave because they don’t contain water, oil, or other molecules that absorb microwave energy. Ceramic dishes that contain metal, however, do heat up in the microwave—perhaps enough to break.
  • It is important that no steam escapes during microwaving, so make sure that the plastic wrap is tight.
  • Use a high-quality plastic wrap specifically rated for microwaving. Inexpensive PVC-based cling wrap poses health hazards; instead, use polyethylene-based wrap, available at any grocery store.
  • Be careful when you remove the plastic wrap; a spurt of hot steam can easily burn you.
  • The paper towels absorb excess steam, so the eggplant doesn’t get soggy. The salt also draws out moisture from the eggplant while the steam tenderly cooks it. This results in eggplant that is neither mushy nor rubbery.
  • Traditional eggplant parmesan relies on deep-frying in order to boil off excess moisture. Cooking our Eggplant Parmesan in the microwave results in a healthier meal.
  • Arrange the slices of eggplant in an even layer without overlapping. If necessary, work in batches.
  • If the eggplant is still too rubbery after four minutes, microwave it for an additional two minutes.
Steps 7– – 13
  • Our favorite marinara sauce is our own recipe, which we make in the pressure cooker. See page 112 of Modernist Cuisine at Home for the recipe.
  • Our favorite brand of store-bought marinara is Rau’s, which is available at Whole Foods.
  • We recommend using full-fat ricotta for this recipe.
  • Lightly salt it to taste, but you may find that it’s already salty enough.
  • This dish will keep up to three days when refrigerated and up to six months when frozen.
For more on microwaves
  • In Modernist Cuisine at Home, we have a whole chapter on microwaved foods. Our recipes include Sichuan Bok Choy, Microwaved Black Cod with Scallions and Ginger, Microwaved Beef Jerky, Crispy Beef and Shallot Salad, Microwave-Fried Parsley, Microwaved Potato Salad, and Instant Sponge Cake, as well as reference tables and variations.
  • For more on how microwaves work, including the physics of microwaves, myths about microwaves, what not to do in your microwave, and how to calculate the speed of light with your microwave, see volume two of Modernist Cuisine.
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