Monday, February 1, 2010

R2R: Parmigiana di Melanzane

Somewhere in the world eggplant is in season. I know this because my local supermarket just got in some real beauties. So in celebration here is an Eggplant Parmesan recipe for one of my favorite Italian chefs.

Eggplant Parmesan: Parmigiana di Melanzane
Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

Ingredients•2 pounds (about 2 medium-sized) eggplant
•4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•1 cup fresh bread crumbs, seasoned with 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup pecorino
•2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
•1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
•1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and towel dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant and dry on towels.

In a sauté pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until just smoking. Press the drained eggplant pieces into the seasoned bread crumb mixture and sauté until light golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all of the pieces. On a cookie sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the Parmigiano. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Basic Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.

This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Fresh bread crumbs are required for the coating to stick without an egg wash.
The oil must be HOT HOT HOT or the eggplant will not cook fast enough and will be a greasy soggy mess.
The Mozzarella must be very thinly sliced or the eggplant tower will slide (it will still taste great)

Temper's Take:
I am in love, it was so much easier than I expected and oh soooo good! The only down side is I eat it alone as Indra does not like stinky cheese (she claims Parmesan smells like old gym socks). But that did mean more for me so maybe that was a positive after all. FYI it is also good made with zucchini just layered in a casserole and not fried.


Claudia said...

Thanks for hosting it was fun, as usual. I usually get to enjoy any left-overs for my lunch. Unless there's enough for another dinner, perhaps in a new incarnation.

Vanillastrawberryspringfields said...

THis is an amazing recipe and am looking foward to make this one and i so love aubergines so so much.....ur s looks fantastic here...very.....

Heather B said...

Great job! Good to know about the zucchini, I may try that next time!

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your blog : the recipes are all very delicious looking and the pictures are also lovely.
I do not mean to sound rude, but I am actually quite shocked that you consider cooking aubergines in February!
Of course they might be in season somewhere in the world, but in order to end up in your kitchen can you even imagine how much petrol and fuel has been used? Either they were grown locally, but then in heated greenhouse, which means lots of energy used for heating, or they were grown somewhere far away (most probable) and they therefore had to be shipped and transported to your town. They were probably picked before they were ripe so they will not have had time to develop vitamins and good minerals.
They are not very good for your health, and they are very bad for the planet.

Don't you agree that we have such a variety of wonderful vegetables that vary with the seasons? Should we not eat with the seasons?
Leave strawberries, courgettes, cherries and tomatoes for summer. Have nice winter roots and fruits. There are lots of nice things now in season : purple brocoli, oranges, dates, nuts, celery, celeriac, cabbage, leeks, bananas... and so more!

The Earth provides with everything we need. I believe we should respect it, and respect its cycle.

Again, I really appreciate what you do otherwise.

Claudia said...

You had asked about a recipe for roasting the eggplant instead of frying. Here's a recipe link:

I came across this and it is basically the way I make mine.

Claudia said...

Another take on this is Mark Bittman's comments:

Re: Anonymous, maybe you should call this "Recipes for all Seasons". We have people participating from all the various climates and seasons, after all, and you can participate or not.