Eggplant Parmesan

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      Eggplant Parmesan

      For the Eggplant:
      2 1/2 lb eggplant
      1 tsp coarse salt or to taste
      1 cup vegetable oil or enough needed for frying

      For the Tomato Sauce:
      2 tbs olive oil
      1 clove garlic, finely minced
      1 onion, finely chopped
      2 cups tomato puree
      1/8 tsp fine salt or to taste

      For the Parmigiana:
      2 eggs
      1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
      9-oz ball mozzarella — fresh and soft
      Optional: 1 cup fresh small basil leaves — washed, dried, and coarsely chopped

      Prepare the Eggplant

      Wash and dry the eggplants. Slice off the cap end and then slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices.

      Arrange the slices on large trays or baking sheets lined with several layers of paper towels, and sprinkle them lightly with coarse salt on both sides. Set aside for 30 min to one hour so the salt draws out the excess water.

      Pat excess water and salt off of the eggplant slices. Rinse them, then dry again with paper towels, pressing down to dry them thoroughly. Set aside.

      Make the Tomato Sauce

      In a medium pot, heat the olive oil with the minced garlic and chopped onion.

      Sauté over medium heat until onion is softened and translucent, about 5 min.

      Add the tomato puree. Season to taste with salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 min, until the sauce is flavorful and slightly thickened.

      Fry the Eggplants

      In a large skillet, heat about 1/4-inch of vegetable oil over medium heat. Give the eggplant slices a final pat with paper towels to remove excess water that may inhibit browning and cause oil splatter.

      Fry the eggplant slices, 2 or 3 at a time, in the hot oil until well browned on each side, about 3 to 5 min.

      As the eggplant slices are removed from the oil, let them drain on a paper towel-lined plate or tray. Adjust the burner temperature and oil level while frying to keep them constant as the remaining eggplant is fried.

      Assemble the Parmigiana

      Preheat the oven to 350°. When the tomato sauce is done, transfer one-third of the sauce to a small mixing bowl and the remainder to a large mixing bowl.

      Let the tomato sauce cool to room temperature, then add the eggs to the larger bowl of sauce and mix well to combine. If the sauce is too hot, the eggs will cook.

      Cover the bottom of a small 8- by 11-inch rectangular baking dish with a thin layer of the egg-less tomato sauce, then add a horizontal layer of fried eggplant slices (use the biggest slices for this first layer.  They can overlap a bit).

      Cover the eggplants with a layer of egg-tomato sauce, then a generous sprinkling of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a sprinkling of chopped basil (if using), then pieces of mozzarella distributed evenly.

      Cover the mozzarella with another layer of eggplant, then egg-tomato sauce, Parmigiano, basil, mozzarella, and another layer of eggplant.

      Repeat until ingredients are used up. The top layer should be a layer of the egg-less tomato sauce, topped with a final sprinkling of grated Parmigiano.

      Bake for 30 min, until the cheese on top is melted and golden brown. For the best results, let it sit for an hour, then serve! Serves 4-6 

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