I love eggplants, especially with a Mediterranean twist (sauteed, stuffed, or made into baba ganoush or any other kind of dip/spread). However, I have never tried or made Eggplant Parmesan before. Somehow, all the recipes I previously came across suggested I should deep fry my beautiful eggplant. And deep frying is one thing I really don’t like.
I found this recipe on one of the food blogs I follow – Adam Roberts’ Amateur Gourmet. It is a recipe by Mario Batali, and as Adam rightly states, it really celebrates this gorgeous vegetable.
As always, I tweaked the recipe a bit while I was cooking (but the one below is the unaltered version I found on Adam’s blog). I roasted my eggplant for about 20 minutes, which might have been due to my oven, or the fact that I cut my eggplants quite thick (1 inch slices). It also took me more like 30 minutes to bake the assembled dish.
Recipe found on http://www.amateurgourmet.com
Yields 6-8 servings
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Spanish onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
- 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled, whole tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
- Salt and pepper
- 3 large eggplants
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, sliced (optional)
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8-inch thick
- 1/2 cup (or more) freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted under a broiler or in a skillet
Start by making the tomato sauce. In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion (and a pinch of salt) and cook for a few minutes until it softens; then add the garlic and wait for both to turn a light golden brown.
Add the thyme and carrot and cook five minutes more; then add the tomatoes and juice, a pinch of salt, bring to a boil–stirring often–and then lower to a simmer. Cook like this for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce looks thick and tastes terrific (adjust with more salt, as necessary). Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Oil a baking sheet with olive oil.
Slice each eggplant into 6 pieces about 1 to 1/2-inches thick; place as many slices as you can on to the baking sheet (you’ll have to do this in batches), drizzle them with a little more olive oil, salt and pepper. Pop into the hot oven and bake until they’re deep brown on top, about 15 minutes. Remove the eggplant slices to a plate to cool and roast the remaining eggplant.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a large baking pan, begin your layering. Start with the largest pieces of eggplant on the bottom, then a layer of tomato sauce, basil (if using), one slice of mozzarella for each eggplant slice, and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Top with a layer of smaller eggplant slices, more sauce, more basil, more mozzarella and more Parmesan. If you have more eggplant and cheese to work with, you can do another layer, but I stopped here. Finish by topping the whole baking pan with the breadcrumbs.
Place in the oven and bake until the bread crumbs are golden on top and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Serve it up hot!