Eggplant Parmigiana

Submitted by John on Sun, 09/25/2016 - 18:06

I made this for [[nodetitle:A Feast of Parma]] and it wowed everyone. It's not like the ubiquitous heavy mass that we see in chain restaurants and pizza joints all over New England. The eggplant is not breaded, the sauce is light and very simple, but then baked long. The reason for this is simple: the eggplant and the excellent cheese are the stars of this show, so why overpower them with strong herbs?

You will use a lot of olive oil in this recipe. There is no need to use cold pressed extra-virgin oil, because you lose all the flavor when it is heated. The oil is just a cooking medium, so regular olive oil or olive pomace oil are fine for sauteeing. 

4 Servings
Preparation time
2 hours, 30 minutes
  1. Peel and slice the eggplants thinly. Dust the slices with salt on both sides and lay them on paper towels for an hour. The salt will draw the bitterness out of them.
  2. Make the sauce by chopping the onion finely and the tomatoes coarsely. Saute the onion in a little of the olive oil until golden, then add the tomatoes and the bay leaf. Simmer the sauce gently until the tomatoes soften into a coarse mush.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325.
  4. When the salt has done its work on the eggplant slices, rinse each slice and dry it well with paper towels.
  5. Heat some of the oil to very hot, and saute the eggplant slices until browned on both sides.
  6. As each slice is browned, remove it to a paper towel. When the pan is empty, add more oil and get it very hot before cooking the next set of slices.
  7. Oil the bottom of a low oven-safe dish small enough to get two layers of overlapping eggplant slices. Add a layer of eggplant, then half the sauce, then a little of the cheese. Repeat with another layer of eggplant, the rest of the sauce, and the rest of the cheese.
  8. Cut the butter into dice. Dot the top of the eggplant parmigiana with the butter and bake at 325 for an hour.
Ada Boni's recipe in Italian Regional Cooking calls for 6 ounces of prosciutto and it allows for a Bolognese meat sauce. I bet that's delicious, but remember that in New England, "eggplant parm" is often the "vegetarian choice" so your diners may be surprised.