A friend recenly asked me for this recipe as this is eggplant season in Utah and I have been eating Eggplant Parmesan almost every other day. My mother was visiting from Italy and we asked her to make three pans of it so that we would have some even after she left. This is actually her recipe. I will post some pictures when I bake the next pan.
Here it is.
I usually buy two or three medium/large size eggplants at the grocery store (Walmart has them too). In the stores you usually find the dark purple fat ones. There are many variety of eggplants. Choose the ones that are firm and not squishy (they are either old or have been dropped). Farmers Market has some great eggplants nowadays. I got myself 6 last Saturday (Borsky Farm table). They have the white and light purple kind that are sweeter and tastier. I made two large pans over the weekend!! Yummy. Prices varies. Usually between 1-2 dollars each eggplant. The ones I got at Farmers marker were $2 each, but they were all worth it!!
At home: wash them and slice off the top where the eggplant attached to the plant. Peel them using a knife or potato peeler. Slice them about ¼ inch thick per slice and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle some salt on each slice. Let them rest for 20-30 minutes. The salt will remove some of the bitterness from the eggplants (you will notice large dark drops sweating from the slices.
Rinse under cold water thoroughly as to remove as much salt as possible. Dry the slices using a kitchen or paper towel. Fry the slices in canola or sunflower oil until tender (not golden). Do not overfry them. Place them in a container with papertowels to remove some of the grease.
Make a tomato sauce using regular tomato sauce (I love the brand found at Costco in cans), some minced garlic, basil (dry is fine), and extra virgin olive oil. You can add more spices (IE dry onion, etc.) if you want to, but I like it this way as I want to taste the tomato sauce.
In a Pyrex pan (9x13 or smaller depending on how many eggplants you are preparing): place a couple spoonfuls of the sauce on the bottom and arrange a layer of eggplant slices. Cover with few spoonfuls of tomato sauce and sprinkle some mozzarella and parmesan cheese on the top. Repeat the process until you have 4-5 layers (leave about ½ inch from the top border of the pan). Complete with the two cheeses. If you are going to save it or if you made more than one pan, cover with aluminum foil and place in a freezer. Otherwise, leave in the fridge until you are ready to bake it (cover with aluminum foil). Place in oven at 350F for 1 hour. Remove foil and let it bake another 15-20 minutes until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and let it stand for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Buon Appetito! Ugo
As promised, here are some pictures taken a couple of weeks ago when I made some more Eggplant Parmesan. I made a particularly large pan, which I then froze for a perfect time to enjoy them in the near future. The approach I took is to simply fried the eggplant slices in canola oil "au-naturelle". Other options to get them ready would be to pass them in flower or bread crumbs prior to frying them or, for a lighter version, to grill them.
After slicing and soaking the eggplant (ca. 30') in cold water,
rinse well and pat them dry on clean kitchen towels before frying:
(tomato sauce, olive oil, dry onions, dry basil, salt, pepper, sugar):
Ready to bake: