Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuscan Baked Eggplant -- Melanzane alla Parmigiana


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.



~~~

This was so delicious, I think I could eat eggplant parmesan every day and never tire of it. If you are an eggplant parmesan fan I would definitely recommend giving this a try, even if you are on the fence about eggplant, this recipe might win you over. For me the main difference between this and most eggplant parmesan dishes I've made is that there is not breading, which at first I was a little skeptical about, but the flour dusting does its job and there is such a great eggplant flavor in this dish that I didn't even miss the usual bread crumb breading, which I must admit, I usually love :)

9 comments:

Heather @girlichef.com said...

This definitely does look mouthwatering! I'll take your advice and add yet another bookmark to the collection ;) Yum!

Jana ★ said...

I really like your blog!! It´s very nice and cute.
All the recipes and post, are both very interesting :D
I´m your new follower!
I invite you to visit my blog, I hope you like it.
xoxoxo from Spain
http://janakitchen.blogspot.com

Jamie said...

This looks fabulous (and has made me very hungry)! Excuse me while I go mark this recipe in Tessa's book!

Nana said...

Wow, I have to try that recipe for Tuscan Eggplant.
Hubby loves eggplant and this will definitely do the trick. I keep bookmarking all these fabulous recipes
and hope to try each one very soon. i think after
57 years of cooking the same old/same old, I
really must try something new.

pinkstripes said...

that looks really good. perfect for a winter dinner.

MM said...

Beautiful dish. Your pictures are enticing too!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I am definitely an eggplant lover. Great dish! Love, love, love eggplant parm. And who skins tomatoes? ;-) I am with you, life's too short to skin a tomato. ☺

Couscous & Consciousness said...

I adore Eggplant Parmigiana - one of my favourite dishes and definitely the thing I will always choose if I see it on a restaurant menu. Can't wait to try this variation.
Sue :-)

Deb in Hawaii said...

This looks so very delicious. I love Eggplant Parmesan and yours is mouthwatering. ;-)

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