Beyond a doubt eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite dishes, and one I don't make often enough. It's simple enough, but not something you throw together in ten minutes. And it does involve frying...at least the way we like it...so that's why I try not to make it too often. Let's face it, frying is something to avoid, but like butter it's one of those not-so-healthy things that are oh-so good!
Sure, you can roast or grill the eggplant instead, but it doesn't yield the same flavor and texture satisfaction that frying does! I'd rather make it less often, but in the tastiest way possible.
Everyone has a different idea on how to prepare eggplant for frying: peel or not, salt & drain or not, dip first in egg and/or flour or not. I suppose I've opted for the simplest procedure and it works perfectly.
These striated eggplants are from our summer garden, although we used elongated, dark purple eggplant in this recipe.
When eggplant is fresh and tender I find it's unnecessary to salt and drain because the eggplant hasn't become bitter yet. I dust the slices in flour and move right to the frying. Eggplants are like sponges so you need to fry in very hot oil, that's kept at an even temperature so you avoid burning the slices.
Have plenty of old newspapers on hand. They're great for absorbing excess oil. Spread them out, cover with paper towels and you're good to go.
This time we made the eggplant Parmesan in individual cooking rings; the presentation is lovely. We served at three separate meals with guests and they came to the table looking as if they were fresh from the oven. You certainly can't do that if you've used a lasagna pan for your Parmesan!
- Eggplant, 4 large, peeled, about 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds)
- Tomatoes, peeled, canned or fresh, 750 grams (26 ½ ounces)
- Olive oil, 4 tablespoons
- Garlic, one large clove, minced
- Onion, one medium, finely chopped
- Salt, 2 teaspoons
- Flour, for dusting the eggplant slices, about 1 cup
- Oil for frying, preferably peanut oil, ½ to 1 liter (2 to 4 cups)
- Buffalo mozzarella, drained & cut into small cubes, ½ kilogram (1.1 pounds)
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, about 1 cup
- Basil leaves, abut twenty, torn into pieces
Optional special equipment: Stainless steel food rings 9 centimeters (3 ½ inch) in diameter & 5 centimeters (2 inches) high
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F).
Sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil until tender and translucent.
Add the tomatoes and simmer covered on low about 20 to 30 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking begin preparing the eggplants. Slice the eggplant to a 1.5 centimeter (½ inch) thickness.
Dust the slices with flour. Fry the eggplant slices, a few at a time, then drain on paper towels.
I've added a few short videos of the preparation as sometimes they explain much better than just a photograph.
Line a baking sheet with oven paper and place the food rings on top of the sheet. aNote: if you don't have food rings, use a standard lasagna pan.
Assemble the eggplant Parmesan, in alternating layers: first eggplant, then sauce, basil leaves, then mozzarella.
Once the molds are full, top each one with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Bake for twenty minutes at 200° C, until the tops are golden.
Allow to cool slightly, remove from the food rings, and serve.