Wednesday, April 15, 2009

MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA (EGGPLANT PARMESAN)

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, "The Romagnolis' Table." It was a gift from my youngest sister many years ago. I've made a few changes to the recipe, but nothing that really affects the outcome: I use Panko breadcrumbs in place of plain; Italian 5-cheese blend instead of mozzarella and Parmesan, and I add soy flour to the all-purpose flour to increase the protein content. The soy flour imparts a nutty flavor that goes well with the eggplant. (I do this because I'm a borderline diabetic, always trying to reduce carbs and increase protein content in foods.)

I particularly like the sauce for this dish. Of course, you can use a jarred sauce, and I've taken that shortcut many times. But if you have the time, try this sauce, because it's really good. If you like the taste of crispy fried eggplant, then you won't like this dish. I oven-fry the eggplant, using less oil. The flour and the oven-frying combined soften the eggplant, and it doesn't get crispy. The finished dish tastes great, but the texture is soft, not crispy. Eggplant Parmesan is a great meatless meal, and when it's done with less oil and calories and more protein, it's even better. Wonder of wonders: it's a dish Guy and I both agree on.

Melanzane Alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmesan)
Adapted from The Romagnolis' Table cookbook
Rating: 9 out of 10

INGREDIENTS: 1 medium-large eggplant
Kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil for sauce + extra to drizzle over eggplant
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
2 small onions, chopped
6 cups tomatoes, fresh or canned
6-8 large basil leaves (or substitute dried basil, about 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
about 1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour + 3 Tbsp. soy flour (or just 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, if preferred)
1 cup Italian 5-cheese blend (or just grated mozzarella + Parmesan cheese)
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs)

Slice the eggplant in half and salt the cut sides liberally; let stand about 20 minutes to get the bitterness out of them.
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Prepare the sauce: Saute garlic and onion in oil till transparent using a medium saute pan or fry pan and medium heat. When the garlic is golden, you can discard it and add the tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Let simmer about 15 minutes.

Scrape the now-moistened salt off the eggplant and cut the halves into lengthwise slices no thicker than 1/2 inch. (My eggplant was long, so I cut each half into half to make shorter pieces.) Peel the skins, as they can be tough in a casserole. Dredge the slices in flour, coating them well, and lay them in a 10x15 baking pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Drizzle about 1/4 cup oil over the eggplant and bake at 375F for about 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. Drain on paper towels. (You can also fry the eggplant in hot oil if preferred.)

In an oven-proof baking dish or shallow casserole, spread a layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of eggplant. Sprinkle with some of the cheese. Repeat until everything is used up, finishing with sauce. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or till the bread crumbs are toasted and the cheese is melted. (This freezes very well, and for my family of 2, I usually make small casseroles, eating one and freezing the rest.)
And, P. S., I didn't have any fresh basil, so I used dried.






8 comments:

Martha said...

I love eggplant parm -- it's a favorite at Linderhof especially during farmer's market season. I'll have to try yours and use Panko. another good eggplant recipe is Ina Garten's eggplant gratin.

Donna-FFW said...

LOVE eggplant parm.. I have a special recipe for this also, from my most missed patient, nonni, Ill have to make it soon.. your sounds a bit similar.

Sara said...

I love eggplant parm - I've never done the salting technique, I typically don't have a problem with bitter eggplants. This looks great!

Debbie said...

Judy, eggplant is one of my favorite dishes. I've never seen it oven fried before. Very interesting...it looks wonderful!

Kerstin said...

Oh, it looks really delicious - I love panko and your addition of soy flour! Just added you to my blogroll - I've been really enjoying your blog as well :)

Coleen's Recipes said...

I've never even tasted eggplant!! I'll have to give this a try, thank you for the recipe.

Reeni♥ said...

This looks delicious, Judy! I like your changes, especially the Panko and the different cheeses. What a yummy comfort meal.

Elyse said...

Your eggplant parm looks amazing, Judy. This happens to be one of my favorite "savory" meals of all time. I'm usually a sweets girl, but you can always tempt me with eggplant parm--oh and that fresh mozzerella, amazing!