In the cooking world, there's old and authentic and new and modern. I have an appreciation for reimagined food but I also have an affinity for original and classic dishes. Authenticity is so important to me but for convenience's sake, some short cuts can make a dish easier to make or more accessible. A fine of example of this would be eggplant parmigiana.
When you think of eggplant parmigiana, what do you see? Often times, it's thick, tender slices of eggplant breaded and fried and slathered with a bunch of spaghetti sauce and topped with a mound of cheese - and there's nothing wrong with that! It's an Americanization of the traditional Sicilian dish - something that was made so simply from fresh eggplants, whole tomatoes, cheese and herbs. I'm not sure when in history people started breading things but for me that's way too much work. The eggs, the breading... meh. Let's cut out those unnecessary steps and keep it simpler, traditional, easier, and healthier! Buono appetito!
EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA - makes 4 servings
- 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2" rounds
- kosher salt, as needed
- olive oil, as needed
- 2 cups, Italian tomato sauce
- 1 (400g) block of pizza mozzarella, sliced
- fresh oregano, a whole spring
- fresh basil, a handful
- You will need to salt your eggplant to let it perspire and draw out liquid first. In a kitchen towel, layer the eggplant and apply salt over top of it. Fold the towel over and put some weight on it (ie. a book). Let the water draw out for about 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease a small Pyrex.
- Once your eggplant has perspired, pat each piece dry and heat your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Apply the olive oil to the pan until heated. Add each slice of eggplant in a single layer and fry on each side for about 1 minute on each side. Once each slice of eggplant is cooked, place on a paper towel to drain out the oil.
- Once all the eggplant is cooked, you can start layering. In your Pyrex, form the bottom layer of the parmigiana. Place the eggplant at the bottom of the Pyrex. Next, spoon some of the tomato sauce, cheese, and then the fresh herbs. Continue until all of the ingredients are finished.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve with pasta or in-between a hoagie.