Do you ever wonder why there are so many recipes for great summer produce that involve cooking them forever, or for that matter cooking them at all? It’s always a bit of an issue for the Accidental Locavore, especially with cabbages and eggplants. Since we’ve got some cooler nights now, I took a few beautiful eggplants and made them into Eggplant Parmesan. It’s inspired from Mark Bitman’s How to Cook Everything and really good because the eggplant is dredged in flour, not heavily breaded. Serves about 4.
- 3 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices
- 1 cup of flour (for dredging)
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 1/2 pound mozzarella grated (about 2/3 of a fresh ball)
- /2 cup grated Parmesan
- about 30 basil leaves (or a mix of oregano and basil)
- 2 cups tomato sauce
Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. While the olive oil is heating, pour the flour, salt and pepper into a shallow bowl. Dredge the eggplant slices in the flour and shake off the excess. Saute the slices in the olive oil until golden brown. You’re going to need to do this in batches, and don’t crowd the pan! Let the cooked slices drain on paper towels while you saute the rest. You’ll need to keep adding olive oil to the pan, and it will seem like a lot; it is, but this is not a low-fat dinner.
When you’ve finished sauteing the eggplant, take a gratin pan, or several small ones, and lightly grease with olive oil. Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce, a layer of eggplant slices, a sprinkling of mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan, and a few basil leaves. Keep repeating until you reach the end of the eggplant. On top of your last layer of eggplant, more tomato sauce, the rest of the mozzarella, a good sprinkle of Parmesan, and your best looking basil leaves (style points). Bake for about 20 minutes until it’s warm all the way through and the cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: Frank paid this the ultimate compliment last night, when he said I did for eggplant what Bill (the former chef at Rancho la Puerta) did for salmon. In other words, made him love something he’s not generally fond of. This recipe works well because the eggplant is thinly sliced and not heavily breaded. Since sautéing the eggplant, is what takes time I often do it ahead of time and just pull it out when I’m ready to bake it. We thought, last night, that some Italian sausage might be a nice addition to this, so maybe next time.