Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eggplant to Cure a Bitter Heart

Delicious and Authentic Eggplant Parmesan

Vegetarian friends coming over for dinner? In the mood for something filling, but not too heavy? This is one of my favorite recipes my mom brought back from a trip to Tuscany. It is delicious, easy, and elegant enough to impress your friends. Serve with a bottle of Pino Gris and enjoy this little taste of Tuscany.

Eggplant is a great ingredient for soups and stir-fry dishes. The spongy texture takes on flavors extremely well. The trick to making fantastic eggplant is to salt it liberally and allow the salt to work its magic, drawing the bitterness from the plant. Slice the eggplant crosswise then lay the slices out in a single layer on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes until the salt dissolves and beads on top of the eggplant. Flip over and do the same on the other side. Once the eggplant has been salted, rinse the excess salt, then pat eggplant dry. Now . . . your eggplant is ready for battle!


- 1 large or 2 medium eggplants, sliced crosswise into 1/4" rounds and salted (see above)
- flour for dredging
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying
- 3 eggs, beaten
- salt and pepper
- a pinch of sugar
- 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Salt and prepare eggplant (see above). While eggplant is "sweating" out the bitterness prepare the tomato topping. In a medium bowl, combine diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

After eggplant has been salted, rinsed, and patted dry, heat olive oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Dredge slices, one at a time, through beaten egg and then through seasoned flour. Fry eggplant slices in batches in skillet until they just start to turn golden brown (1-2 minutes per side). Drain on paper towel-lined plate.

Lightly spritz a 13x9" glass baking dish with cooking spray and arrange eggplant slices in 2 layers with slices of mozzarella cheese. Spread tomato mixture over eggplant and cheese then sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake in oven for 35 minutes until the cheese starts to turn golden brown.

Melted cheese, delicious tender eggplant, fresh tomatoes, crisp herbs? What's not to love about this tasty dish? Enjoy with a nice glass of wine and a great group of friends! You're going to love it. Really.

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