Eggplant Parmigiana alla AngelinaThis dish is a bit of a labor of love. Though not difficult or requiring much technical skills, it does require several steps and a good dose of patience. I also find that I require a glass or two of wine to sip during the preparation.
|The skin is pretty, but tough to bite through... try slicing off stripes before slicing into rounds.|
Cut it: Slice off sections of the skin lengthwise, cut off top stem and bottom.
Slice into 1/3 inch thick rounds.
|Eggplant rounds sweating on the stove top|
Sweat it: Lightly salt rounds with sea or kosher salt, and spread out onto cookie sheet. Put into oven on very low heat (200) until the rounds are beginning to wilt and brown. You can also do this in a large sautee pan on the stove top on the lowest setting. Flip the eggplant rounds and sweat for another 5-10 minutes. The purpose of this is to sweat out the excess water in the plant, and begin the cooking process to ensure tender, fully cooked eggplant in your final stage. If you skip this or don't sweat them long enough it will be like biting into raw zucchini. I am not a fan of that.
Tip: They will seem slimy and weird, but that's the moisture being pulled out... and that moisture helps the flour stick in the next step!
|Eggplant rounds that have sweat it out in the oven and are ready for breading|
|Ready to bread with seasoned flour, egg wash, and special breadcrumb mix|
Tip: Use tongs or another utensil to help or your fingers will become coated with more breading than the eggplant will.
Brown it: In olive oil over medium heat (don't let it get to the smoking point) brown both sides of the breaded rounds. You may need to add in more oil before flipping since the breadcrumbs absorbs a bit. Once they are browned and crispy, set aside on paper towels back onto the cookie sheet.
Tip: If cooking in multiple batches, it may be necessary to wipe out the pan with a paper towel to get rid of burnt pieces... just add a bit more oil and you're good to go!
|Breaded and fried eggplant rounds in baking dish|
Bake it: Place crispy fried rounds into a baking dish with a very little bit of red sauce spread out on the bottom. Top with thinly sliced FRESH mozzarella cheese (not the hard brick or shredded stuff) and a dollop of sauce. Into a preheated oven they go, and bake at 375 for 15 minutes tops, until the cheese is melty and they sauce is bubbly.
|Eggplant rounds breaded, fried and ready to bake topped with fresh cheese and sauce|
Serve it: Finally, you are ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor! Serve up this scrumptions but surprisingly light dish by spooning out a bed of Orzo pasta onto the center of a plate, ladle on a bit of sauce, top with two rounds, another bit of sauce, and fresh basil.
|Eggplant Parmesan on Orzo pasta with fresh mozzarella and basil|
Tip: either add the ingredients to a container with lid and shake well, or wisk... OR add the lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and thyme directly to the salad, toss well, and then drizzle on the olive oil. If you add the oil first, it coats the salad and repels the acid (vinegar) and it will taste oily and leave a puddle of vinegar at the bottom of the bowl.
A piece of crusty bread, glass of wine, and you have yourself a $50 restaurant-quality meal! Only it's in your own home, doesn't cost as much, the booze is cheaper, and you don't have to tip anyone or drive home.
Now that, is WINNING!