I think I’m going through an eggplant phase. Last week I craved a slow cooked ratatouille and ended up testing three different recipes. The result was so yummy I had to blog it.
So you’d think I’d be tired of eggplant by now. But I’m thinking eggplant parmesan sounds like another perfect eggplant dish to satisfy my eggplant craving.
Every time I prepare this divine little dish I think of my friend Daniella LaDolce.
When I lived next door to Daniella, I would open my windows and catch the most delicious smells coming from her house. I would secretly hope Daniella would bring me some leftovers the next morning. And she usually did.
Daniella prepares the most delicious Italian food. My favorite is her Eggplant Parmesan. I love this dish so much, I probably made it 20 times before the Bennett Crew finally asked me to take it off the dinner menu.
Well, it’s back! And I still love it, as much as I did twelve years ago. And guess who else loved it? You got it, the Bennett Crew. Ranger Craig couldn’t get enough, every time he went back to the kitchen I noticed a little more eggplant parmesan missing from the baking dish. Tink wanted to take the entire tray of eggplant parmesan back to college and Suzie Q decided it was her new favorite dish… again.
Thanks Dani for sharing with me your friendship, love of great food, and your eggplant parmesan recipe!
Daniella’s Eggplant Parmesan
I love this recipe, but when I’m feeling just a little bit lazy I skip the breadcrumbs and eggwash and lightly dust the eggplant in a little flour. Then I proceed with the recipe as written. Voila! A quick Eggplant Parmesan.
1 -2 eggplant, peeled (if you like) and sliced about ¼ inch thick slices
2 cups fresh mozzarella, shredded or sliced
1 cup Romano cheese, shredded
2 eggs whisked with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
½ cup flour
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Safflower or Olive oil (or a mixture of both)
Chopped fresh Italian parsley (for garnish)
3 cups simple tomato sauce (recipe to follow)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Salt the eggplant slices and let them sit in a colander in a large bowl to drain the excess liquid from the eggplant. Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with a paper towel.
Fill three plates, one with the flour, one with the egg wash and one with the bread crumbs. Heat about one cup of oil over medium heat in a large sauté or fry pan. You may need to add oil during frying.
Dip each slice of eggplant in the flour, shaking off the excess. Next, dip in the egg wash and then into the bread crumbs. Pan fry the eggplant slices just until golden brown. Place the eggplant slices on a paper towel lined cookie sheet to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Once the eggplant slices have been browned, place ¼ cup tomato sauce into the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish, or if using 2 eggplants, a 10x15x2 rectangular baking dish. Mix together the mozzarella and Romano cheeses. Layer slices of eggplant over the sauce and then top with a little more sauce and a sprinkling of cheese mixture. Continue layering the eggplant, sauce and cheese. I usually end up with 3-4 layers.
Cover with foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Slice into squares and serve with additional sauce and parmesan cheese.
Simple Tomato Sauce
1 28oz can tomato sauce (I like Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce)
2 tblsp olive oil
1 onion small diced
3 cloves garlic, small diced
½ cup dry red wine (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano (or ½ tsp fresh chopped oregano)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch of red pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a sauce pan on medium heat and add a drizzle of oil and the onions. When the onions have become translucent, add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant. Do not brown the garlic as it will taste bitter. Add the red wine to the onions and garlic and reduce the wine by half.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, tomato paste and red pepper. Mix thoroughly. Bring to a lively simmer and then turn down the heat to a slow simmer. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper.
Let the sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes. If the sauce appears to think, add about ¼ cup of water at a time to thin the sauce. Taste again for seasoning.
A little tip: if your sauce tastes a little to “bright” or has too much acidity, try adding a pat of butter to your sauce to mellow out the acid.