These were so pretty, calling to me from the market produce bin, I couldn't resist. And, that purple-flowered basil matches so well. However, don't know about the rest of you, but I tend to forget things in my fridge. They were fast approaching their "use by" date, when I finally had everything together for Eggplant Parmesan, Mario style, our latest Recipes to Rival dish, hosted by Temperance at High on the Hog.
Most of my family (extended included) don't really care for eggplant, so the real challenge is always to make it so they can hardly resist. Quite a feat for my granddaughter especially.
The dish was good, though I really don't see the point of those individual towers, other than for cute servings. I think it works easier and just as good to layer them in the ordinary way. The towers likely derived from the whole haute gourmet plating style in restaurants, where everything has to be artfully stacked on top of each other. Just my opinion. Also, I think my usual recipe tastes lighter. I first roast the eggplant slices with just a brushing of olive oil. I had to use way too much in this. Probably the oil wasn't hot, hot, hot enough?? Really not sure. But, there certainly wasn't any left in the pan after the first batch was done. Had to keep adding more. Also, if you roast the eggplant, there's no need for any breading. You can just sprinkle the herbs on when layering.
For the recipe -
My tottering towersEggplant Parmesan: Parmigiana di Melanzane
Recipe courtesy Mario Batali
•2 pounds (about 2 medium-sized) eggplant
•4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
•1 cup fresh bread crumbs, seasoned with 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup pecorino
•2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
•1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
•1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash and towel dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant and dry on towels.
In a sauté pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until just smoking. Press the drained eggplant pieces into the seasoned bread crumb mixture and sauté until light golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all of the pieces. On a cookie sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the Parmigiano. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Basic Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.
This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Fresh bread crumbs are required for the coating to stick without an egg wash.
The oil must be HOT HOT HOT or the eggplant will not cook fast enough and will be a greasy soggy mess.
The Mozzarella must be very thinly sliced or the eggplant tower will slide (it will still taste great)
I served it with pasta and a green salad, which was a nice contrast. However, I'm afraid that next time, it's back to the old recipe. Though, trying new techniques/versions is always fun. Sorry Mario. I still love you.