9 hours ago
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
This is my tried and true recipe for eggplant parm, as we call it in New Jersey.
I hate frying eggplant (glad I got that out of the way).
It makes a miserable mess on my stove and all over the kitchen.
Eggplants are like sponges, they soak up so much oil, that you might need a whole cup just to fry up 2 big Italian eggplants.
In the hot summer, I make this dish on the grill, but if it is cool enough to turn the oven to 450F, then the oven it is.
The secret here is the sauce.
It is nothing but roasted grape tomatoes. That's it. No garlic, no spices.
The tomatoes get nice and jammy and make a delicious fresh sauce.
I don't recommend freezing this dish, because I have never had luck with freezing eggplant or ricotta cheese, so you had better invite people over for dinner to finish it up.
My Baked Eggplant Parmigiana:
2 large Italian eggplants (or 8 Japanese eggplants), sliced into 1/2" slices
2 cups of grape tomatoes
olive oil & kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese + 1/4 cup for the top
handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt & pepper
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
Truthfully, I have never really measured, I just eyeball it, but I know most people like a guideline for how much cheese, etc.
But feel free to use more or less of anything you like. This is a layered casserole, and you can't go wrong.
Lay out the eggplant slices on 2 baking sheets (I like to line my pans with parchment paper for easy cleanup).
Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. You may have to do this in batches, but this is the only hard part.
Bake the slices on both racks in the oven at 450F for about 20 minutes, or until crisping up. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
While the eggplant is roasting, mix up the ricotta.
Add the ricotta with the parmesan, herbs, egg, salt & pepper and mix together until light and fluffy.
Set the eggplant slices aside and roast the tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes in a deep roasting pan lined with aluminum foil (or your pan will be a crusty mess).
Drizzle w/ olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Roast in the same 450F oven for about 20 minutes until they start to burst.
Spray an 8 x 10 baking dish with cooking spray.
Lay half the roasted tomatoes on the bottom of the pan.
Now place a layer of eggplant slices on top of the tomatoes, overlapping the slices a bit.
Spread the ricotta mixture with a rubber spatula over the eggplant slices (I don't always use all of the ricotta) and top with the cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
End with a layer of overlapping eggplant slices and the rest of the roasted tomatoes.
The casserole can be assembled up to this point.
Just before baking, add the panko crumbs and another handful of grated parmesan cheese.
Drizzle w/ olive oil so the crumbs and cheese crisp up.
Bake in a 375F oven, uncovered for 20 minutes, until bubbly and brown.
Let rest a few minutes before serving.