This dish is my contribution to I Heart Cooking Clubs February Potluck, and boy is it a yummy one! This recipe is from Tessa Kiros' cookbook Twelve featuring seasonal Tuscan cuisine. The photo in the book is very enticing and I've been wanting to make this dish since my first flip through of the book. I adore eggplant parmesan and this is pretty much the Tuscan version of that. I like it just about any way it is prepared, and if it on a menu while dining out, it is always my first pick.
Melanzine alla Parmigiana
Baked Eggplant with Tomato, Mozzarella, and Parmesan Cheese
Tessa Kiros - Twelve
3 medium eggplants / aubergines, cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
5 ripe tomatoes, skinned (I used about 10 smaller Roma tomatoes and did not skin then, just pureed the finished sauce with the immersion blender) or a 14 ounce can of peeled tomatoes, chopped
about 10 basil leaves, torn (this is where I was sad I didn't have my basil from my outdoor herb garden anymore and had to use dried, which was fine really, does anyone know if you can grow basil year round indoors?)
flour for dusting the eggplants
oil for frying
10 and 1/2 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch slices (I used shredded)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Recipe preface: Every Italian home cook has a slight variation of this classic dish.
Cut the eggplant slices and put them in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and leave for about 30 minutes to allow the bitter juices to drain away.
Preheat the oven to 350.
To make the tomato sauce, heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and as soon as you begin to smell the garlic, add the tomatoes and half of the basil. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have melted into a sauce. I then pureed the sauce with an immersion blender.
Rinse the eggplant slices and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly dust both sides with flour.
Heat enough oil to come up 1/2 inch up the side of a saucepan. I did this in my electric skillet, which is my favorite way to fry things lately. Heat the oil and fry the eggplants in batches until golden brown on both sides, add a little more oil if necessary. Doing this in the skillet meant about 3 batches, whereas if I had used a smaller fryer / pan it would have taken a lot longer, since the skillet has such a big surface area. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. The thin fried eggplant slices were so yummy at this point!
Spoon a little of the tomato sauce into a square or round oven dish of roughly 12 inches. Wish I had a round dish, I ended up using an oblong pyrex dish that was probably a touch too big. Cover with a layer of eggplant slices.
Add a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce...
then a layer of the mozzarella cheese.
Add some basil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Repeat to use up ingredients.
Put into hot oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and crusty.
Cool slightly before cutting into servings. Serve hot or at room temperature.