Recipe by Roger
“I don’t have a recipe! It’s so easy to make!” So sayeth Fran.
After I had taken over my share of the cooking duties, I asked Fran for the recipe for Eggplant “Parmesan.” She tells me, “First off, it’s parmigiana! Secondly, it’s so easy that I don’t have a recipe.”
I say, “How do you expect me to make it? I’m not Italian!”
I watched her cook for over 25 years and knew that she had in the fridge her Italian standards prepared and ready to go–seasoned bread crumbs, tomato sauce, and freshly grated Romano cheese, and knew that the parmigiana was some sort of combination of these ingredients. Another Italian standard is frying in olive oil. So all I had to do was to threaten to mix these things in some sort of Swedish fashion and we would have Eggplant “Parmesan!” That got her to divulge her secrets, and I will share them with you forthwith.
Caveat: Eggplant Parmigiana is a great large family dish and should provide leftovers, but it requires lots of time for preparation and cleaning up afterward.
Note: My eggplant parmigiana was so good that I was dubbed an honorary Italian.
For those of you who aren’t so inclined to make your own ingredients a la Francesca (that’s another story), buy seasoned Italian bread crumbs and pre-packaged grated cheese in the dairy section. BUT there is no substitute for homemade sauce. Moreover, how much tomato sauce to use is not an exact science. It’s all done by look. My guess is that I use 5 cups of tomato sauce in the pan for four layers of eggplant. Links are provided to the recipes for bread crumbs and tomato sauce.
- Olive oil (about 2 tbl.)
- Cheeses – Grated Romano or Italian Combination – Romano, Asiago, Parmesan. At least two cups.
- Eggplant – 3 medium sized (too large = too seedy) peeled and sliced into ¼” slices
- Double recipe of Tomato Sauce
- 1 Egg (you may possibly need a second egg if you run out of beaten egg for dipping the eggplant).
- Italian Bread Crumbs
- Break an egg and beat in a bowl. (You may need a second egg before you’re through.)
- Pour a couple of cups of bread crumbs on a plate and replenish as needed.
- Dip eggplant pieces into egg, then bread crumbs, and immediately put into pan with olive oil heated to medium. Fill pan with these pieces but don’t overcrowd.
- Cook about 3-4 minutes per side. You will need to refresh pan with olive oil. As you continue frying, you may have to turn the heat down to medium low if the eggplant browns overly fast.
- In a large stainless steel roasting pan (approx. 10”x14”), pour some sauce and spread across to wet the bottom.
- Straight from the fry pan, put a layer of eggplant across the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Cover the layer with roughly the same (wetting) amount of sauce.
- Sprinkle cheese across the layer.
- Repeat layers until all of the eggplant is deployed. (I ended up with four layers of eggplant.)
- Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil being careful to not touch the foil to the sauce.
- Place in a preheated (350o F) oven for 20 minutes or so.
- Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with your favorite pasta (we prefer vermicelli), extra tomato sauce, meatballs, Italian sausage, or other meat of choice.
Source: A frantastic original