This summer, we had a beautiful productive garden that gave us bushels of vegetables. We had eggplants as part of the bonus and although my husband is not a huge fan, I wanted to learn how to make a really good, not super fatty eggplant parmesan because for some reason I CRAVE it all the time in the summer and fall.
We also visited Italy and Greece this summer in August and everywhere we went, they had fresh seasonal eggplant cooked and available to eat in a variety of ways. Thus, I was inspired to find a great recipe.
Mario Batali has been one of my favorite Italian chef’s for many years now, since I first saw him cooking on a humble little show called “Molto Mario” before the whole food scene blew up. I learned so many great tips from his show and from his cookbooks that I thought I would go to his recipes first. Low and behold, in his cookbook “Molto Italiano” (which I highly recommend) I found a beauty of a recipe and it is BAKED, which makes it less fattening. Believe me when I say that NONE of the flavors of this dish are lacking. It is probably one of the best recipes I have found and now it is my tried and true favorite. Enjoy!
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggplant, about 2 pounds
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups basic tomato sauce (or 2 28oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes with 3 tbsp shallots, 3 garlic cloves and 1tsp thyme sauteed in.)
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/8-inch thick (click on link to learn how you can make your own!)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted under broiler
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Using some extra-virgin olive oil, oil a baking sheet.
Slice each eggplant into 6 pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Lightly season each disk with salt and pepper and place on the oiled sheet. Bake the eggplant at 450 degrees until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.
Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In an 9 by 13-inch brownie pan, place the 4 largest eggplant slice evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and sprinkle with a teaspoon of basil. Place one slice of mozzarella over each and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiano. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the disks and repeat with tomato sauce, basil, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.
Sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over the top of the eggplant dish, and bake uncovered until the cheese is melts and the tops turn light brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately – and just try not to drool all over yourself when serving everyone else.