Eggplant was something new to us until a few years ago. Sad to say we’ve missed out on a number of years of deliciousness! I love the ways countries around the Mediterranean have in cooking them and I’ve been bent on getting to know them. While staying in Greve in Chianti one year, I made an eggplant Parmigiana with eggplant slices my hubby grilled over a wood fire. Was it ever good! He took these photos of versions we both enjoyed while visiting in both Tuscany and Rome.
Makes 8 Servings (approximately)
3 large eggplants (preferably longer rather than rounder in shape as they have fewer seeds)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup each grated Mozzarella, Provolone or Italian Fontina cheese (or more to your taste)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Bread crumb topping
Prepare The Eggplants:
Using a peeler, peel 4 strips of skin of each eggplant. Slice the eggplants, crosswise, into 1/3” thick slices. Layer them in a large colander sprinkling each layer generously with kosher or coarse sea salt. Place the colander in a bowl, letting the eggplant stand for 1 hour. (This will draw out any bitterness from the eggplants). Rinse the eggplant slices well with cold water. Place on a large towel & blot dry. Turn on the broiler with the oven rack about 4″ from the element. Brush the eggplant slices with EVO, turning them over, place onto an oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Brush the second side of the eggplant slices with more EVO. Place 1 pan at a time under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, until slightly golden brown, remove pan from oven & turn the slices over. Return the eggplant to the oven & broil an additional 2-4 minutes until slightly golden brown; remove pan from the oven & let eggplant cool.
1 (28 oz.) tin of Italian plum tomatoes, diced fine
3 – 4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 Small onion, chopped fine
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/3 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. each chopped fresh basil & oregano (you can substitute 1 tsp. dried oregrano)
Optional: a few chili flakes
In a large skillet heat the EVO over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion & saute until softened, add the garlic, stirring until it is fragrant but has not taken on any colour. Now add the tomatoes, (if using dried oregano add it now), reduce heat a bit & simmer until thickened, approximately 20 minutes. Add the fresh herbs, season with salt & pepper, simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat. (I usually make the sauce the day before).
For the Crumb Topping: Combine 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs with enough olive oil to moisten.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Assemble The Parmigiana:
In the bottom of an well oiled 13 x 9” glass or ceramic baking dish, spread approximately 1 cup of the marinara sauce. It will not totally cover the bottom of the pan. Top the sauce with 1/2 of the eggplant slices. Top with half the remaining marinara sauce, & 1/2 of the grated Mozzarella & Parmigiano, Top with another layer of eggplant slices, the remaining marinara sauce, & cheeses. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top. Place in the oven, uncovered for between 25 – 30 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from the oven & let cool for 15 minutes before serving.