Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Eggplant Parmesan

This is a remarkably easy and good recipe. First, forget the "eggplant parm" you know. You know the one: the eggplant is breaded and fried and HEAVY. You feel like you'll be digesting it for a week.

This is not that. This is goooooood. The method is simple: slice eggplant, bake eggplant, layer cooked eggplant with tomato sauce and parmigiano reggiano cheese. Bake and eat. I have made this as far ahead as 3 days (make Sunday for Wednesday night).

This is sort of Jamie Oliver's recipe from his new book "Jamie's Italy." I revised it for even more ease, although the original recipe is easy too - the only major difference is he makes his tomato sauce from scratch, where I am relying on a prepped sauce.

Eggplant Parmesan

  • 3 medium-large eggplants, cut into 1/2" slices (rounds) (you can use slender Japanese eggplants or little Italian ones too, you'll just need a few more)
  • 1 28 oz. can of Trader Joe's sugo di pomodoro (or another marinara sauce of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano (buy a block and grate it yourself - it's worth it)
  • handful breadcrumbs
Set oven to 450 degrees. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a small bowl and dip the eggplant slices into oil to lightly coat them with oil (add more oil as you need it - you just want to lubricate the eggplant, not drown it). Lay the eggplant on baking sheets - the pieces should be in one layer and should not touch. Bake the egpplant until golden brown - about 15 minutes a side.

In a 9" x 9" ish pan (a smallish baking dish) put a layer of tomato sauce. Add a layer of eggplant and top with a layer of sauce and some of the cheese. Add another layer of eggplant, sauce and cheese. Repeat with one more layer if you still have ingredients left. (If you are using small eggplants like I did this time, you may just want to tumble them into the dish instead of layering them. Just portion them out so you have at least 2 layers.)

Toss the breadcrumbs with a little olive oil. Scatter over the top.

If you're going to bake it now - go ahead: 30-40 minutes at 375. If you are making it ahead, cover and refrigerate. To bake later: Cover the dish with foil and bake covered in a 375 oven for about 20 minutes, then uncover and bake another 20 or until bubbly.

Feel free to add fresh herbs: basil, thyme, parsley ... all will add a different dimension to the dish.


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