“but, you don’t like eggplant” my husband protested. and he was right. unless it was pickled, spicy and layered between prosciutto and focaccia, i didn’t much see the point. but, i refuted his protests. i thought, maybe if i cooked the eggplant differently this time, instead of just adding it to a curry or roasting it or doing whatever else one does with eggplant, maybe i would like it.
and, i was a right.
in my younger years, my mother made chicken parmigiana. she made chicken cacciatore. she made swiss steak. all meals rooted in the greatness of the tomato sauce. but, she never made eggplant parmigiana. i think, if i may be brash, that my mother has an aversion to vegetarian meals, because she doesn’t think they’re “well rounded”. but, that’s another story.
i looked at three very different recipes for eggplant parmigiana, and took what i liked about them from each. from mario batali’s recipe, is the fact that the eggplant is roasted first, instead of breaded and fried. barbara fairchild calls for serious breadcrumb action and basil. jamie oliver’s recipe (or at least one of them) doesn’t require that you make your own sauce. which, is nice, because this is a monday night dinner. also, he likes shredded mozzarella and only a touch of parmigiano, rather than slices of a more moist mozzarella.
2-3 large eggplant or 6 small (about 2 lbs)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 red or sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 cups tomato sauce of choice (ottawa pro-tip: marinara from any of the nicastro’s shops works like a charm for this)
bunch of basil, chiffonade
150-200g mozzarella, shredded
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs (pro-tip: crushing croutons in a bag, with a rolling pin makes for some mighty fine breadcrumbs…leave a few large pieces in)
preheat the oven to 450F.
slice each eggplant into pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick and place in a colander in a bowl, or in the sink.
sprinkle about 2 tsp. salt and allow to sit for about 20-30 minutes to soften.
oil a baking sheet with olive oil.
lightly season each disk with salt and pepper and place on the oiled sheet.
bake the eggplant at 450F until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 12-15 minutes.
remove the eggplants from the oven.
remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.
lower oven temperature to 350F.
heat 1/4 cup oil in a medium saucepan. add onion and garlic and sautee.
add sauce and basil and stir. allow to simmer.
in an oiled 8×12 (brownie) pan layer the following:
sauce, eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese, eggplant, sauce, cheese, breadcrumbs.
place in over at 350F for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the breadcrumbs browned.
we served this with a green salad and followed it by going out to the park to throw the disc around.