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Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana

This is a classic. Slices of tender eggplant cooked in rich olive oil until light and crisp, then nestled in a robust meat sauce full of tomatoes and cabernet along with creamy mozzarella and nutty Parmesan cheese, melted throughout.

Recipes handed down from family members are certainly treasures. But family recipes shared by favorite friends are very precious for sure. This dish is based upon a recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana given to me by one of my dearest friends, whose family hails from Cefalù, Sicily.

Just like making lasagna there are a number of steps to eggplant parmigiana. This Italian classic is similar to lasagna but starts with gorgeous eggplant, replacing the wide pasta noodles used in lasagna. Sliced thin, they’re surrounded with sweet tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, marjoram and oregano simmered with lamb, pork and a generous splash of a delightful cabernet.

It takes a bit of time to make but none of the steps are really difficult and the meat sauce can be made a day or two in advance. I use a combination of lamb and pork, to a level of taste and texture to the meat sauce, but you can certainly use your favorite types of meat.

For the eggplant, there’s an old debate on prepping. Peel or don’t peel, salt it and let it rest or not. I peel and salt. On occasion the peel of an eggplant is tough or bitter, so go the extra step and peel. There’s nothing worse than going through the effort of making this dish only to have the star ingredient spoil everything.

As for salting, it’s intended as a way to pull out any bitterness and remove excess moisture from the eggplant. I give the slices a light sprinkle of salt and let them rest, mainly to pull out the moisture as well as extra seasoning before breading and cooking.

This recipe makes a lot of eggplant parmigiana, enough to serve 12. Of course you can cut the recipe in half if you want a smaller portion or freeze one for later.

The cold northern winds are blowing in and this is a meal sure to warm you to your core. And it’s definitely a dish worth sharing with friends and family!

Eggplant Parmigiana

For the meat sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped sweet onion, about 1 medium onion

1 teaspoon chopped garlic, about 2 cloves

1 pound ground lamb

1 pound ground pork

2 cans plum tomatoes, 15-ounces each

1 large can crushed tomatoes, 28-ounces

1 small can tomato paste, 6-ounces

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons dried marjoram

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon

Warm the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the chopped onion until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.

Add the lamb and pork and cook over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Toss in the plum tomatoes, crushing them gently with your hands to break them up into pieces. Add the crushed tomatoes, the tomato paste along with the basil, marjoram, oregano, kosher salt, black pepper and brown sugar.

Pour the wine into the sauce and stir to blend well. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

For the eggplant:

3 medium eggplants, about 3 pounds

1 to 1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1-1/2 cups flour

5 extra-large eggs, well beaten

1-1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

¾ cup grated Parmesan

2/3 cup to 1 cup olive oil

1 pound mozzarella, sliced thin or shredded

1 pound grated Parmesan

Trim the ends from the eggplants, peel and slice them into slices no thicker than 1/2″

Spread the eggplant out in a single layer onto baking sheets lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and let the eggplant rest for about 1 hour. Stack with a paper towel between layers if needed. Let the eggplant rest for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Put the flour in one shallow dish, the Parmesan and bread crumbs in another and the beaten eggs in a third dish. Whisk the Parmesan and bread crumbs together.

Dredge the slices of eggplant in the flour, then dip into the beaten eggs coating well.

Coat the eggplant with the Parmesan and bread crumbs and place on a wire rack. Continue until all the slices are coated. Let the eggplant rest for about 15 minutes.

Pour 2/3 cup of the olive oil into a large sauté pan over heat just slightly above medium. When the oil is hot and shimmering, cook the eggplant until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked eggplant to baking sheets lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil. Add more olive oil if needed to cook all the eggplant.

To assemble the dish:

Ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of 2 baking dishes (approximately 11” x 7-1/2”) that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. You can also use one deep baking dish, 13” x 9”.

Place a layer of the eggplant over the sauce, scatter part of the mozzarella cheese over the eggplant and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Cover with more sauce, another layer of eggplant and cheese. (Reserve some of the mozzarella and Parmesan to top the Parmigiana in the last 15 minutes of baking.) Top with the remaining sauce. Cover the baking dishes tightly with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Remove the foil and scatter the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the top. Continue baking for an additional 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the dish is hot and bubbly. Let the eggplant parmigiana for about 15 to 20 minutes to set up a bit before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Eggplant Parmigiana, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

October 11, 2019
: Makes 12 servings.

This is a classic. Slices of tender eggplant cooked in rich olive oil until light and crisp, then nestled in a robust meat sauce full of tomatoes and cabernet along with creamy mozzarella and nutty Parmesan cheese, melted throughout.

By:

Ingredients
  • This is a classic. Slices of tender eggplant cooked in rich olive oil until light and crisp, then nestled in a robust meat sauce full of tomatoes and cabernet along with creamy mozzarella and nutty Parmesan cheese, melted throughout.
  • For the eggplant:
  • 3 medium eggplants, about 3 pounds
  • 1 to 1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 5 extra-large eggs, well beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2/3 cup to 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound mozzarella, sliced thin or shredded
  • 1 pound grated Parmesan
Directions
  • Step 1 For the meat sauce:
  • Step 2 Warm the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the chopped onion until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Step 3 Add the lamb and pork and cook over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Step 4 Toss in the plum tomatoes, crushing them gently with your hands to break them up into pieces. Add the crushed tomatoes, the tomato paste along with the basil, marjoram, oregano, kosher salt, black pepper and brown sugar.
  • Step 5 Pour the wine into the sauce and stir to blend well. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Step 6 For the eggplant:
  • Step 7 Trim the ends from the eggplants, peel and slice them into slices no thicker than ½”
  • Step 8 Spread the eggplant out in a single layer onto baking sheets lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and let the eggplant rest for about 1 hour. Stack with a paper towel between layers if needed. Let the eggplant rest for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Step 9 Put the flour in one shallow dish, the Parmesan and bread crumbs in another and the beaten eggs in a third dish. Whisk the Parmesan and bread crumbs together.
  • Step 10 Dredge the slices of eggplant in the flour, then dip into the beaten eggs coating well.
  • Step 11 Coat the eggplant with the Parmesan and bread crumbs and place on a wire rack. Continue until all the slices are coated. Let the eggplant rest for about 15 minutes.
  • Step 12 Pour 2/3 cup of the olive oil into a large sauté pan over heat just slightly above medium. When the oil is hot and shimmering, cook the eggplant until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked eggplant to baking sheets lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil. Add more olive oil if needed to finish cooking all the eggplant.
  • Step 13 To assemble the dish:
  • Step 14 Ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of 2 baking dishes (approximately 11” x 7-1/2”) that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. You can also use one deep baking dish, 13” x 9”.
  • Step 15 Place a layer of the eggplant over the sauce, scatter part of the mozzarella cheese over the eggplant and sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese. Cover with more sauce, another layer of eggplant and cheese. (Reserve some of the mozzarella and Parmesan to top the Parmigiana in the last 15 minutes of baking.) Top with the remaining sauce.
  • Step 16 Cover the baking dishes tightly with foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and scatter the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the top.
  • Step 17 Continue baking for an additional 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the dish is hot and bubbly.
  • Step 18 Let the eggplant parmigiana for about 15 to 20 minutes to set up a bit before serving.

 



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