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Friday, July 27, 2012

Eggplant Parmigiana


 It’s an absolute shame that this vegetable was at one time considered poisonous and grown only as an ornamental plant.

No matter if called Melanzane in Italian, Aubergine in French or just plain old Eggplant in English it’s a tasty and most versatile vegetable.

I grew up enjoying various preparations of eggplant and have continued making some of my mother’s recipes exactly the way she has and still does.  However, I chose to update her recipe for marinating eggplant by developing a much simpler method which has resulted in a better product in my opinion.

Her recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana remains original since I haven’t come up with anything that could make it taste any better than it already does.  After trying a few different ways of making this dish I have always returned to my mother’s recipe and consider it a true comfort food.

We have never planted eggplant in our garden but this year we took in two homeless plants from my son and his wife who rescued them from under a “for free” sign. We found a home for them among the herbs since they were generous enough to share some of their space with the late comers.  The plants have adapted well to their new surroundings but if they bear any fruit remains to be seen.

There are a number of eggplant varieties available on the market and it depends on the recipe which one would be the better choice. Since eggplant has a very mild flavour the addition of various other ingredients help to bring out its unique taste. 

Among the varieties I have come across and used are the classic or regular eggplant as well as the Asian, Italian, Indian and Sicilian.  If I had to choose between them it would be very hard but the creamy white flesh and little to no seeds of the Sicilian eggplant wins my heart and is the variety I would reach for over the others for frying and marinating.  The small Indian variety lend themselves very well for stuffing while the long, slender Chinese eggplant are a good choice when the recipe calls for chunks or cubed pieces.

Simply called an eggplant does nothing to elevate this vegetable to its rightful place in the vegetable world.

Aubergine…hats off to the French for giving it the sophisticated name it truly deserves!

Eggplant Parmigiana

These are approximate measurements and depend on the size of eggplant used.
The volume of eggplant increases considerably after dredging in flour, dipping in egg mixture and fried.
An average size eggplant will yield approximately 6 servings when serving as a side dish.

1 medium size eggplant
3 to 4 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup grated cheese, parmigiano,  crotonese or your choice (extra for layering))
grated mozzarella cheese for layering (optional)
flour for dredging
¼ cup finely minced fresh Italian parsley
Enough prepared tomato sauce to layer and cover top of eggplant slices.
( Marinera or Meat Sauce both work well in this recipe.)
 vegetable  or corn oil for frying.
  1. Peel and thinly slice eggplant (cutting it lengthwise gives you larger slices and takes less time to prepare and fry.)
  2. Combine and beat together eggs, grated cheese (not mozzarella) salt, pepper and parsley.
  3. Dredge eggplant slices in flour, dip in egg mixture making sure to cover slices completely.
  4. Fry until golden on both sides turning once.
  5. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.
  6. Cover bottom baking dish with a layer of tomato sauce, add a layer of eggplant slices, cover with a thin layer sauce, sprinkle with additional grated cheese and a layer of mozzarella if using.
  7. Continue layering until all of the eggplant is used up then end with a layer of sauce and grated cheese on top.
  8. Cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven until hot and bubbly 30 to 45 minutes.
  9. Let rest for about 20 minutes before serving.

























Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • This dish is delicious served at room temperature..
  • Leftovers make great sandwiches.
  • It tastes even better warmed up the next day.
  • I usually make this with left over Sunday meat sauce; sometimes making extra sauce on purpose with intention of preparing parmigiana in the coming week.
  • Peeling eggplant is optional; I prefer it peeled since the skin can be a little chewy.
  • Veal or chicken parmigiana can be prepared by using the same method for eggplant omitting the layering step. Prepare meat as in frying eggplant, place layer of sauce in baking pan, place one layer of meat then cover with sauce and cheese.  Bake until hot and bubbly approximately 30 minutes.

6 comments:

  1. elizabeth (who is out of witty comments)July 29, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    Mmm, I have to agree, while I was not a fan of this growing up it surely hits the spot now! Question: How necessary is the frying of the egg plant? If it was baked instead, do you think it would still yield a desirable effect?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, you know that nothing beats food that is fried in taste category.
      Quickly Googled (Eggplant Parmigiana, no fry) and came up with at least 10 recipes.
      Check them out but I guarantee you will will come back for the one I make!

      Using a good quality vegetable oil and making sure it is hot when adding the eggplant ensures minimal oil absorption then draining it on paper towels removes the rest.

      Life is short...fry the eggplant!!

      Delete
  2. I love this dish but I don't fry the eggplant, I do it in the oven on a very high temperature, it is very good and I find not too oily, sometimes if not drained well it can be oily when fried, but to be honest like Mom says, nothing beats frying -lol-

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for your comment Marianne,
    Sounds like a good alternative and I may give it a try.
    I've never had a problem with my Parmigiana being too oily.
    Some of the recipes I have come across coat the eggplant with bread crumbs before frying. I can see the bread crumbs absorbing more oil than when dipped in the flour then egg mixture and fried.
    I'm sure elizabeth will be very interested in your method of preparation.
    Eggplant Parmigiana...altogether yummy!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. So, Marianne... when can I come over? You should know by now I don't tend to put these recommendations into practice. I only 'practice' by eating! I'm small, I can squeeze in at your table no problem, put me between the triplets (between one and two or two and three)!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I made this Parmigiana....delicious!! A very easy recipe to follow. I did fry the eggplant...I talked to Nonna about it and she said that it does not need to be fried for very long. I will take this into account next time.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    ReplyDelete