Melanzana alla Parmigiana
When you think of eggplant parmesan, most people think of a piping hot dish of gooey layers of breaded eggplant, tomato sauce, and tons of mozzarella cheese, but not my Mom’s recipe. Her recipe is unique. I never ate eggplant parmigiana in a restaurant or in an individual’s home like her’s. The ingredients she used are much the same as every one else, minus the mozzarella cheese, but her technique of assembly is what makes it different and in my opinion, much better.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it is also good cold. As a young girl I often cut a small piece of it and spread it on a piece of Italian bread or some plain crackers; it was amazing. It is one dish that is best the next day. Mom would give it to me in my lunch for school. Most of my friends were eating peanut butter and jelly or a bologna sandwich, but not me. Mom would take some Italian bread, a thin slice of the leftover eggplant and a couple slices of ham. This was the most amazing sandwich in the world. The creamy texture of the savory eggplant and the smoked ham was a marriage made in heaven. I still drool when I think about it.
2 – medium eggplants
1 – qt. tomato sauce
1 1/2 – cups seasoned bread crumbs (store bought preferred)
1 1/2 – cups pecorino romano or parmiggiano cheese
2 – cups all-purpose flour
Canola oil for frying
Wash and dry the eggplant. Remove half of the skin of the eggplant and make 1/4 inch round slices.Place the slices in a large bowl of cold water and soak for 5-10 minutes. Remove the slices and pat dry.
Salt the eggplant slices to taste. Place the flour on a flat plate. Lightly coat each slice of eggplant with the flour.
Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet; just enough to coat the bottom. As you coat the eggplant with flour, place them in the hot oil. Brown lightly on each side, and place on a platter lined with paper towel. Do not flour all the eggplant at once. Flour just enough at one time to fit in the skillet. If they sit too long the flour will become gooey. Continue this process until all slices are fried.
Meanwhile in a medium-saucepan heat the tomato sauce.
Assemble the eggplant. For this I used an 8″ x 12″ glass baking dish . Start with spreading a small amount of sauce on the bottom. Layer enough slices of eggplant to cover the bottom. Sprinkle a light coating of bread crumbs.
Next, sprinkle a light layer of grated cheese on top of the eggplant. You can use parmigiano or pecorino romano or a combination of the two. Next spread another layer of sauce and continue the process until the pan is filled to the top. The top layer should be the parmigiano or pecorino cheese. This pan fit 5 layers in all.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated 350º oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove and let stand for 30 minutes before serving.