Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmigiana) – the dish I cut my teeth on. Loved it then, love it now, and make it often. Imagine perfection: the golden eggplant sauteed in a tasty egg wash, baked in the oven with tangy concentrated tomato sauce, sweet basil, creamy melted mozzarella, with a nutty parmigiana reggiano crust. It’s my favorite dish, rich and satisfying; it can keep a man alive for days.
Of course that’s assuming you’re lucky enough to possess eggplant parmigiana left overs after your meal is done. Because it actually tastes better the next day after some overnight magic melding of flavors. If you’re the preserving type, consider portioning your left-overs and freezing. Impress the unexpected and unsuspecting dinner guest with tomorrow’s eggplant parmigiana or satiate yourself on a night when there’s just nothing else to eat.
Or, mix it up a bit. Eggplant parmigiana makes a great panino (sandwich) especially with a soft, chewy bread like ciabatta for tomorrow’s lunch.
The possibilities are endless. I often serve the melanzane alla parmigiana with roasted sausage. A simple arugula salad with EVOO and wine vinegar is a great accompaniment. I put the salad on the table and my guests can have it with the eggplant and sausage or as a separate following course.
Can’t talk about Eggplant Parmigiana without debating breadcrumbs. I often fry eggplant coated with breadcrumbs. Those crunchy slices are delicious and can be used in many dishes but I just don’t recommend using a breadcrumb coating in this recipe. You risk crisp and crunchy for soggy, a dangerous detraction from the dish.
Mother made it best. She always does. But I pass on to you the delicious, the dynamic, the perfect left-over, Eggplant Parmigiana.
Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmigiana)
- 2 eggplants
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
- 1/4 cup parsley roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola, peanut or safflower oil
- 2 tablespoons EVOO
- 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes crushed by hand
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon Italian oregano
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- sea salt
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut off the stem end and the round end and cut the eggplant in 1/4 inch slices. I like to leave the skin on but you can peel all or some of the skin if you like.
- Cover both sides of each slice with salt and drain in a colander to draw out the bitter dark liquid.
- Wash the eggplant slices well and pat dry. Set aside.
- Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat well.
- Add the pecorino, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside.
- Put the EVOO and the garlic cloves in a sauce pan. Heat over medium-high heat until the garlic is lightly browned.
- Add the tomatoes, sea salt to taste, oregano and a branch of the basil with about 6-8 leaves and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thick, about 20 minutes.
- Put the canola and EVOO in a saute pan and over medium-high flame until the oil starts to ripple.
- While the sauce simmers flour the eggplant slices and tap off excess flour.
- Dip them in the eggwash and saute in the hot oil until browned on both sides.
- Drain on paper towel.
- Put a little sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and spread it evenly.
- Layer the bottom with the fried eggplant slices to completely cover the bottom of the dish.
- Put about a tablespoon of sauce on each slice.
- Top with a 1/2 basil leave and a sprinkle of grated parmigiano and a mozzarella slice.
- Put another layer of eggplant to cover the first, a tablespoon of sauce, torn basil leave and parmigiano. Keep adding layers until you have used all the fried eggplant.
- When you add the last layer of eggplant, top each slice with a tablespoon of sauce, a torn basil leave and a mozzarella slice then sprinkle the top layer liberally with grated parmigiano.
- Bake in the oven until the mozzarella is melted and lightly browned.
- Put some sauce on the table in case your guests want a bit more.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.