Dad’s Eggplant Parmigiana


In honor of my dad’s 60th birthday today, October 2nd, I decided to make one of his favorite dishes: Eggplant Parmesan. In fact, he was the first person who ever made me this melt-in-your mouth epitome of comfort food. So, here’s to you Poo Bear!

Yesterday, in preparation for this meal, I donned my sweater, – fall is officially in the air afterall – tromped out to the garden and plucked two plump, perfectly purple eggplants, several sprigs of potent basil, fresh parsley, and aromatic rosemary – just the way your nonna would have done it in Napoli.


 

 

 

 

 

The key to a great eggplant parmesan, despite some opposition, is to salt the eggplant prior to cooking. Eggplant has a high water content, which seeps once it begins to cook – avoid watery, bland tomato sauce by sprinkling coarse-ground sea salt atop eggplant slices and allowing them to sit between paper towels for approximately 30 minutes prior to cooking. The excess liquid will be drawn out of the vegetable by the salt and absorbed by the paper towel, leaving semi-moist and firm slices of eggplant. Be sure not to draw out too much liquid, as the eggplant will begin to brown, just like an apple left sliced in the air for five minutes.

The recipe below calls for Pecorino Romano cheese, a slightly sharper and tangy hard cheese when compared to the nuttier Parmigiano Reggiano (either can be used in this dish). While Pecorino can sometimes be found in the gourmet cheese section of your local grocery store, a safer bet is a specialty grocer like Denver’s Marczyk Fine Foods and Tony’s Market, or a local cheese shop – if you’re in Denver be sure to check out St. Killian’s Cheese Shop in Highlands Square.

Servings: 4
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 medium-sized eggplants
Sea salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 baby Portobello mushroom caps, diced
1 small zucchini (half of a medium), diced
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce, more as needed
1 tbsp fresh basil, sliced thin
1 tbsp fresh parsley, sliced thin
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, diced
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
1 tbsp water
2 eggs
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dried bread crumbs, more as needed
3 tbsp olive oil
8 slices (1/4 inch thick) part-skim mozzarella
1 cup Pecorino Romano, shredded (or Parmigiano Reggiano)

PREPARATION

1. Rinse eggplants under warm water and pat dry. Using a peeler or sharp paring knife, gently peel skin from eggplant. Cut off stem and end, then slice eggplant into eight pieces approximately 1/4 inch thick.


 

 

 

 

 

2. Transfer eggplant slices to paper towels and sprinkle then rub with sea salt; cover slices with an additional layer of paper towels and let sit for 30 minutes.


 

 

 

 

 

3. Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, heat olive oil in a medium-sized non-stick skillet. Add garlic and onion, cooking until fragrant, approximately 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown and release their liquid, about 2 minutes. Add zucchini and cook until tender, another 2 minutes.


 

 

 

 

 

4. Stir in tomato sauce, fresh basil, parsley, rosemary, and chili flakes for a little spice (optional); reduce heat to a simmer. As the sauce becomes thick, slowly stir in 1 tbsp water.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Preheat oven to 325° and spray the bottom of a shallow baking dish with a thin layer of cooking spray.

6. Crack eggs into a small bowl and scramble. Stir in dried basil, marjoram, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Spread bread crumbs on a plate or flat surface, such as a cutting board.


 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Gently press paper towels into eggplant slices, absorbing any excess water.
8. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working one slice at a time, dip both sides into the egg mixture, then dredge in breadcrumbs until both sides are covered in a thin layer. Transfer to skillet and quickly brown on both sides – approximately 30-45 seconds per side if the oil is hot. Place browned slice in prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining slices.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Once all slices are in the baking dish, top each slice with 1 1/2 tbsp sauce, 1 slice mozzarella, and a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano. Top all slices with any remaining sauce and Pecorino Romano.


 

 

 

 

 

10. Bake for 35 minutes or until heated through (eggplant should be soft but still firm, not mushy) and the cheese is bubbly and slightly brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Categories: Comfort Food, Dinner, Herbs & Spices, Sauces, Vegetarian

Author:Sarah Haughey

Sarah is a Colorado native who loves exploring with her yellow lab Sadie. She blogs about travel, hiking with her dog, and cooking. And she LOVES craft beer. Follow her on Instagram @shaughey04 and Twitter @sarahhaughey4 Blogs: Outdoors: justagalandherdog.com Food: lifewithalittlespice.com

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One Comment on “Dad’s Eggplant Parmigiana”

  1. October 20, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    Yummy!

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