Torrisi's Eggplant Parm

Remember last winter I had this amazing eggplant parmigiana at Torrisi Italian Specialties in NYC? After I wrote about it, someone emailed me and said the recipe was available on line!

I saved my calories and waited for a Sunday (so I could be a slave to my stove all day frying up eggplant slices) to make this.

This is a labor of love. I HATE frying eggplant. I was going to show you a photo of my disgusting stove afterwards, but didn't want to discourage you from making this dish.

Eggplant Parm is probably my favorite dish in the world, however, there is a disclaimer attached to that statement.

It can only be made by certain people with homemade tomato sauce. The eggplant has to be sliced PAPER THIN and there can be NO ricotta cheese in this dish (even though I love eggplant rollatine with ricotta).

(I have had to eat mushy, oily, thick, disgusting eggplant and that can turn anyone into an eggplant hater).

I found out that Torrisi's secret to success is that they fry the eggplant with garlic and use Progresso breadcrumbs. They also use fresh wet mozzarella and a big bunch of fresh basil leaves. The assembly is pretty easy and it truly is the best version I have had. Even my husband loves it (and he is not an eggplant lover like me).

If you have a bottle of Windex (to clean your stove), then I suggest you make this for Sunday dinner.

Rich Torrisi's Recipe for Eggplant Parm: (courtesy of Food & Wine)

One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
All-purpose flour, for dredging
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups seasoned dry Progresso bread crumbs
One 2-pound eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (they use Wisconsin cheese)
1 cup basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 375F°. In a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes with their juices and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the sauce with salt.
You can make the sauce a few days ahead.

Put the flour, eggs and bread crumbs in 3 large, shallow bowls. Working with 1 slice at a time, dredge the eggplant in the flour; shake off any excess. Dip the slice in the egg, letting any excess drip back into the bowl, then coat with the bread crumbs.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/8 inch of oil until shimmering. Line a rack with paper towels. Add one-third of the garlic and breaded eggplant to the hot oil. Cook over moderate heat, turning once and adjusting the heat as needed, until the eggplant slices are golden brown and tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer the fried eggplant to the paper towels to drain. Using a slotted spoon, discard the fried garlic. Repeat 2 more times with the remaining garlic and breaded eggplant, wiping out the skillet and adding more oil as needed.

Lightly oil a 10-inch springform pan or baking dish (I used a Pyrex casserole). Line the bottom with a single layer of eggplant (don't put the sauce as the first layer, or it will be too mushy).

Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the eggplant.

Top with a few mozzarella slices and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of the parmesan.
Tear one-third of the basil leaves over the cheese.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients for a total of 3-4 layers, ending with a layer of eggplant and a thick layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top. I added some fresh oregano leaves to the top as well.

Wrap the entire pan in foil and set it on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake the eggplant for about 45 minutes, until heated through.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Remove the foil from the top of the eggplant and bake for about 20 minutes longer, until lightly browned on top.

Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before unmolding. Cut into wedges and serve.

Worth every spot of grease on my stove.


Abby said…
Hi Stacey, I just wanted to leave you a little note that I featured your Broccoli Bites on my blog
I found you through pinterest, but looking through your great blog I want to try everything! Thanks :)
SarahB said…
This looks delicious! That is REALLY thinly sliced eggplant! I thought it was lasagna when I saw the first picture!
Kathy Walker said…
This version looks quite tasty! I agree about it being labor intensive. I think I have finally overcome that....the first taste makes the pain go away!
Anonymous said…
My mom, w/o a drop of Italian blood in her, makes the best eggplant parm I've ever eaten. Here's 2 hints - 1. alternate the mozzarella w/fontina and 2. Rao's marinara mixed in with the canned tomatoes. The fontina tip is from Lidia, I think, and my whole family is Rao's fanatics, the ONLY jarred sauce we'll use.
Eggplant is one of those foods I only let other people cook for me because I never get it right myself. I wonder if I would attempt this, or just try Torrisi! ;-)

Doing a parm this week, but trying it the way I had on vacation with zucchini instead. Don't know if I'll successfully imitate though.
Ciao Chow Linda said…
This is one of my favorite meals and your version looks wonderful.
Joanne said…
I've had quite a bit of bad eggplant parm in my life and I'm so excited to actually find a GOOD recipe!
Foodiewife said…
I don't like eggplant. Not one bit. HOWEVER, every year I swear I'm willing to try something that could change my mind. I was just telling my husband (who doesn't like it either) that eggplant parm, made right, might do the trick. This is a gorgeous recipe. I can imagine the mess. But you've convinced me to give it a Sunday afternoon try.
Frying eggplant is a once a year occurance for me, my kitchen gets totaled, but worth every bit! I love all that basil in there!
The JR said…
Eggplant is one of our favorite veggies.

I luv eggplant parm.
Dana said…
I forget if we have talked about this, but have you made Deborah Madison's version? It's nothing like this - you broil the eggplant slices and it's super simple, but I wonder if you would like it. This looks amazing but there is no way I would ever make it. You can bring it to me instead of chicken soup. :)
Denise H. said…
This looks delicious. I have one major problem. I have a severe allergy to basil. I'm talking close my throat, go to the emergency room allergy. Any suggestion for replacing the whole basil leaves? When I make my sauce I use oregano instead of basil, but I have never used fresh oregano. Would it be the same as the basil?
Stacey Snacks said…
I have never heard of a basil allergy, but I would not take a chance w/ fresh oregano either, it's very strong, like basil, and the oils could do the same thing!

The basil really makes this dish, but eggplant is always good fried, so just don't use any herbs.
Good luck!!