MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANAPosted: Updated:
• 3 medium Italian eggplant
• 1 ball fresh mozzarella cut into 1/4" slices, or pre-grated
• 1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, rinsed and chopped coarsely
• 1/2 bunch basil
• 1 small piece Parmigiano-Reggiano, or pre-grated
• All-purpose flour for dusting the eggplant slices
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Tomato Sauce (recipe to follow)
• Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
• 1 28 oz. can San Marzano Tomatoes, passed through the food mill or food processor
• 1 red onion, minced
• 1 carrot, minced
• 1 celery, minced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 basil sprig
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
• Kosher salt and Fresh ground black pepper to taste
For the Tomato Sauce
Preheat 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the 4 quart saucepot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, season with a pinch of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Sweat stirring occasionally until translucent. Increase the heat to medium and add the remaining ingredients.
Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and reduce the heat to low. Let the tomato sauce cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the sauce from the heat and taste for seasoning. Use your judgment and decide whether or not you need to add another pinch of salt and pepper and a drop of red wine vinegar. Reserve the sauce until assembly.
For the Eggplant
Rinse the eggplant under cold water. Using your Chef's knife, cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices.
Lightly season the slices on both sides with Kosher salt and lay in a layer on the rack for 30 minutes to draw out some moisture.
Over medium-low heat, warm enough Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cover the bottom of the 12" sauté pan. Pat the moisture off of the slices with the paper towels and dredge them in the all-purpose flour to evenly coat each slice, shaking off the excess. In a few separate batches, gently sauté the slices in a single layer, until they are a light golden brown on each side.
Upon removing the eggplant from the pan, lay them out to cool on the rack in a single layer. Reserve the eggplant until assembly.
To Assemble the Parmigiana
Start by spreading a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of the 8" x 8" baking dish.
Lay down one even layer of eggplant followed by another thin layer of tomato sauce and enough Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley to evenly cover the tomato sauce.
Another layer of eggplant, tomato sauce, the mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley. Follow suit with 2 more layers comprised of eggplant, tomato sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley.
The top layer should be tomato sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and chopped parsley evenly distributed from edge to edge and corner to corner.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. The top should take on a light golden color, and when a knife tip is inserted into the parmigiana, should come out hot to the touch. When the parmigiana is finished baking, remove it from the oven and let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before attempting to portion and serve. The longer it sits, the more stable it will be when portioned.