Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Eggplant Parmesan

Posted February 1, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan
Adapted from Jamie’s Italy
Serves 6

3 large firm eggplants
Olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 heaping tsp. dried oregano, plus more for the breadcrumbs
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Splash wine vinegar
Large handful of basil leaves
4 large handfuls of Parmesan cheese
2 handfuls of dried breadcrumbs (homemade is best here)
1 5-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Remove the stems from the eggplants and slice them into ½-inch thick slices.  Lay the slices out on baking sheets (you may need to do this in batches depending on how many sheets you have).  Either lightly drizzle them with olive oil, or using a pastry brush, brush the slices with olive oil.  If you brush them, you will need to turn the slices over and brush the other side.  You do not need to do this step if you drizzle.  Sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the sheets and, using tongs, flip the pieces over.  Return to the oven and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until the slices are golden brown and dried out.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Leave the oven on.  (The eggplant can be made a day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  They will look shriveled and kind of ugly, but you won’t see their appearance in the final dish.)

Meanwhile, place a large pan over medium heat.  Pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the onions and a pinch of salt.  Sauté until starting to soften, then add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano.  Continue to cook until the onions and garlic are starting to brown.  Using your hands, break up the tomatoes and add them to the pan along with all the juice in the can.  Give the mixture a good stir, then put the lid on the pan and simmer slowly for 15 minutes.  When the sauce is reduced and sweet, season it carefully with salt, pepper, and a splash of wine vinegar.  Then stir in the basil.  (The sauce can be made a day or two ahead.  Let it cool completely, then cover and refrigerate.  If you opt to make the sauce ahead, don’t add the basil until just before you are going to use it, or it will turn black.)

Preheat the oven to 375º.  Choose a casserole dish.  I used a ceramic 15×10-ish inch ceramic pan for my dish.  You can certainly use something smaller that will give you more layers and therefore a thicker casserole.  Whatever you choose, put in a small layer of tomato sauce, then a thin scattering of Parmesan, followed by a single layer of eggplant.  Repeat those layers until you’ve used all the ingredients, finishing with the mozzarella, then a little sauce over top, followed by the last of the Parmesan.  Toss the breadcrumbs in enough olive oil to moisten them, and toss them with another teaspoon or so of dried oregano.  Scatter the breadcrumbs over top.  Place the dish in the oven and bake for about half an hour, until golden, crisp, and bubbly.  Allow to set for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces.

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