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Friday, May 25, 2012

Simple Eggplant Parmesan (like my Neapolitan Zia makes)

This eggplant Parmesan is a bit different from the one we see here in the states, note how I said "different" not "better" and I really mean that. I have to admit that I am a sucker for eggplant coated in bread crumbs, deep fried, and topped with mozzarella cheese which is Italian/American in origin.  But this method is just as good and is what my Zia in Naples, Italy makes, it's much simpler and lighter tasting with fewer ingredients which allows the eggplant to stand out.It does however require fresh in season eggplant, homemade tomato sauce, and real Parmesan cheese since there are, after all, so few ingredients.
1 medium/large fresh eggplant *see note below
olive oil
marinara sauce
Parmesan cheese grated (about 1/2 cup)
Cut eggplant as thin as you can in to discs, I used my food processor but this not necessary.
Set the eggplant discs on a kitchen towel or paper towels and sprinkle salt all over. Place more towels on top and place something heavy on top to press water out. Let it sit for about 20 minutes.Wipe salt off each piece.
Heat up olive oil in a large saute pan and saute eggplant pieces until lightly golden.
Place on paper towels to drain oil off.
Heat oven to 420
Place some sauce in a pan, add eggplant and then some Parmesan cheese. Repeat 2 more times: sauce, eggplant, cheese, ending with sauce and Parmesan cheese on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until starting to turn golden and crisp on top.
Wait at least 10 minutes before cutting into.
Leftovers:The leftovers are great used as a pasta sauce the next day, simply chop the mixture up and heat up then stir in with the hot spaghetti. My husband prefers this over the eggplant Parmesan by it self.

*How to tell eggplant is fresh:
Make sure that the green cap looks green is not dried out You want smooth skin free of bruises or soft spots.
Now press the eggplant with your finger, if it goes in but then bounces back, it is ripe. If your fingerprint remains, it is overripe and will be mushy. If it does not go in at all the eggplant was picked too early and is under ripe.

1 comment:

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

This reminds me so much of a similar dish I had on my trip to Italy last fall that they made with zucchini instead of eggplant. No breading or heavy cheese, just the lovely sauce and sprinkles of parmigiano. Maybe it's not what we're used to, but still such a delight.