Saturday, March 1, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan (Romano) Burgers

Hmm, can I call this Eggplant Parmesan if it doesn't actually have Parmesan in it? I don't know, but that's what I'm doing here. I think Pecorino Romano cheese is close enough in taste to Parmesan, and it's way less expensive! A container of shredded Parmesan at Wegman's is close to $8, and the Romano is only $4. Why is Parmesan SO expensive?

Anyways, I called Greg from work the other day to ask him if it was okay if I made a yummy pasta dish again, and he said he wasn't sure...because his stomach felt like it had turned into pasta (or mush). Ok...! Maybe we had been eating a lot of pasta, with the tortellini soup and the ziti with sausage, but I am liking my carbs these days. I searched my Pinterest board from top to bottom for inspiration. Nothing stood out to me...except for the eggplant dishes. There was a basic baked eggplant parmesan that looked good, but then I came across these burgers - and they looked easier to make and also required less ingredients. I'm glad I went with them! They are super tasty and fairly easy to make. They also taste great without the bun too, just serve with the marinara sauce on the side. I was hoping to roast some potatoes to go along with them but I forgot to get the potatoes when I was at the store! I think they would make a nice side. Just to warn you, Greg pointed out that these will kill your breath...thanks to the garlic (but it is worth it - plus garlic fights off illness and vampires)! Enjoy.

Recipe for Eggplant Parmesan (Romano) Burgers

2 pounds of eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 1/4 cups of Panko breadcrumbs
2/3 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 Tbsp. of fresh basil, chopped finely
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, pressed
Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 eggs, beaten
Marinara sauce
Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Basil leaves, for garnishing
Your favorite burger buns

Add about 1/2 Tablespoon of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add in the cubed eggplant pieces to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes, making sure to stir frequently and making sure that all of the eggplant gets submerged into the water (it has a tendency to stay on the surface). Drain the eggplant in a colander and allow it to cool.

Arrange oven so that a rack is in the second to top position. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

While eggplant is cooling, put the Panko breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, black pepper, and olive oil into a large bowl. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Once eggplant is cool, put it between a clean dishcloth and press down and try to get out as much excess moisture as you can. Then transfer the eggplant to a cutting board and chop finely or use your hands to tear and place into the bowl with the bread crumbs. Add in the beaten eggs and gently stir the mixture together. Use your hands to form about 6 - 8 patties, adding in more breadcrumbs if necessary (if mixture seems to moist). Place each patty on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle about 1 tsp. of olive oil over top each patty and sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper. Place the patties in the oven and cook for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and cook for another 7 - 8 minutes. While they are cooking, lightly toast the buns. About 1 minute  before the patties are finished cooking, add a piece of mozzarella cheese on top of each patty and cook for one more minute or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Remove eggplant patties from oven. Assemble burgers. Spread desired amount of marinara sauce on each side of the bun, put a patty on the bottom half, and top with a basil leave (or serve the patty without the bun and put the marinara sauce on the side for dipping). Serve with a side of roasted potatoes or potato chips, if desired.

Recipe Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally from Eats Well With Others