You Want Authentic Italian

July 12, 2009 by

You're having some friends over dinner who love to travel.

Since Italy is on the list for next year, you're thinking you want to cook authentic Italian fare.

Maybe even do a multi-course meal.

So that you all can sit back, relax, and really enjoy an evening of good food.

When you think of Italian restaurants, this item is always on the menu.

But in reading my cooking magazines this weekend, I found out that the way it's typically prepared in restaurants, is not actually how it's done in Italy.

I'm talking about Eggplant Parmigiana.  Now truth be told, neither my husband nor I normally care for the dish.  But I thought it sounded different enough to give it a shot.

It took a while to make, since there is some significant preparation to make the eggplant and sauce.  But we were delighted to find that the final dish was full of flavor, fresh tasting, and not anything like the greasy, breaded, mushy eggplant we had both tried in the past.

This recipe is light and fresh enough to serve as a first course, but also flavorful and satisfying enough to serve as a main course.  So you can place it in your menu wherever there is an opening.

So the next time your traveling buddies are coming over to dinner, go ahead and pick up a bottle of chianti.  You have the perfect recipe for authentic Italian fare.

Until our next meal,

Rebecca

Eggplant Parmigiana

Ingredients:

Authentic Eggplant Parmigiana

Authentic Eggplant Parmigiana

For the eggplant:

  • 2 1/2 Lb. Eggplant (About 4 small or 2 large)
  • 1 to 2 Cups Olive Oil

For the sauce:

  • 3 Tbs Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Large Cloves Garlic, Peeled and Cut in Half
  • 2 28-oz Cans Diced Tomatoes, Drained (Or if you want to make it 100% fresh, 3 1/2 lb. plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped.)
  • 12-15 Large Fresh Basil Leaves, Torn in Half

For assembling:

  • 6 Oz. Fresh Mozzarella, Torn Into 1/2-Inch Pieces
  • 1 1/4 Cups Packed Freshly Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3 1/4 oz.)

Directions:

  1. Peel the eggplant and cut each crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  2. Cover the bottom and sides of a large colander with a few eggplant slices and sprinkle generously with salt.  
  3. Top with more layers of eggplant and salt until you run out of slices.  
  4. Let the colander sit in the sink or over a large bowl for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours. The salt will draw out water and reduce the eggplant's ability to absorb oil.
  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce by heating 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. 
  6. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and barely golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes, and raise the heat to medium high.  Cook stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down in a sauce, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. (If the sauce begins to dry up before the tomatoes break down, add warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time.)
  9. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick, chunky sauce, 5 to 10 minutes more.  (Too much liquid in the sauce will make the finished dish watery.) 
  10. Turn off the heat, remove the garlic, and stir in the basil leaves.  
  11. Dry the eggplant by lining a large plate with a paper towel and setting a few slices on it.  Top with another paper towel and layer on a few more slices.  Repeat until all eggplant slices are gone, and cover the top with one more paper towel.
  12. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil on a griddle or large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Working in single layer batches, cook the eggplant pieces until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes on one side, and 1 minute on the other.
  13. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat until all the slices are fried.
  14. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 450 degrees F.
  15. Lightly grease a square baking pan with cooking spray. Layer about one-third of the eggplant slices on the bottom, overlapping them slightly. 
  16. Spread about one-third of the tomato sauce in a very thin layer over the eggplant.
  17. Evenly layer one half of the mozzarella and 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano over the tomato sauce.
  18. Make another layer with one-third of the eggplant, one-third of the tomato sauce, the remaining mozzarella, and 1/3 cup Parmigiano.  
  19. Make one last layer with the remaining eggplant, tomato sauce, and Parmigiano.  
  20. Bake until the cheese has melted evenly and the top is bubbly, with browned edges, 20 to 25 minutes.  
  21. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

 

This recipe appeared in Fine Cooking, Aug/Sept 2009

1 Comment

  1. Jeremy

    Normally I wouldn't touch anything with egg plant in it. Not so much because I don't like the taste, (I still don't even know what egg plant tastes like.) but because it usually seems like a slimy mess. This recipe is good because the egg plant stays firm (for the most part) and the marinara and parmigiana dominiate the taste of the dish. The only downside with this dish is that it can be pretty salty if you sprinkle too much salt on the eggplant. So don't overdo it!

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