Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe


There are many versions of eggplant parmesan. I probably like them all. The earthy sweetness of the eggplant and tomato sauce, the gooey mozzarella, and the sharpness of the parmesan all come together to make something delectable. Eggplant parmesan was the most satisfying vegetarian dinner I ate when I was growing up.

In some recipes the eggplant is breaded and fried. While this adds a whole extra layer of texture, I don't think it's necessary. The version I grew up with was one my mom made and perhaps it's just the familiarity of it, but I really do think it's the best. Because it isn't fried it's not greasy which is often what happens with eggplant. A hearty filling entree I wouldn't dream of serving it without spaghetti on the side.

There are two techniques necessary for this recipe. One is roasting eggplant slices. Once you master roasting eggplant in the oven you may want to use the slices in other recipes as well. They are great in sandwiches served hot or cold. I also make a dish where I spread them with soft goat cheese and roll them up and serve them with a red pepper sauce.

The other key to this recipe is making a homemade spaghetti sauce. Really, in this recipe you just don't want to use the jarred stuff. I'm including my spaghetti sauce recipe because it's such a staple. Use it for pasta, lasagna, with sausage and peppers, over polenta, the list goes on and on and on....

Eggplant Parmesan
4 servings

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery
2 cloves garlic
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 Cup water
1/2 Cup red wine (optional)

1 large eggplant
8 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 Cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

For the sauce: Finely chop the carrot, celery and onion. Smash the garlic but don't chop. Saute the vegetables in olive oil in a large sauce pan. When golden but not brown add the tomatoes, squishing each one with your hands. Sorry, this is a very hands on recipe! then add the tomato paste and rinse out the tomato paste can with the water and add to the pan. Add the red wine if desired. Simmer for 30 minutes and taste for seasonings. You can add dried basil and oregano if you like but I prefer a couple of fresh leaves of basil.

Slice the eggplant into 1/4 or 1/3 inch slices crosswise. Salt the slices on each side and place in a clean sink or in a basin. Leave the eggplant to sweat for at least 30 minutes. Wash the salt off the slice and pat dry with a paper towel. Be gentle! Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray. Place the slices of eggplant in a single layer on the pan and spray the tops with cooking spray. Place in broiler. Watch carefully! You want the slices to brown, but not burn. When they are brown turn them over and brown on other side. Leave the oven on, but turn the heat down to 375 degrees.

In a glass baking pan place 1/2 cup of sauce and make a single layer of eggplant slices--about 8 or so. Layer each slice of eggplant top with a slice of mozzarella a sprinkle of parmesan and an spoonful of sauce, repeat. Top final slices with sauce and parmesan. Bake with a piece of foil covering the pan for 20 minutes. Remove foil for last 5-10 minutes. Serve with spaghetti and sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Enjoy!