Saturday, February 21, 2009

eggplant parmigiana

Eggplant is my secret love. I sneak it in whenever I can.

Jonas, the vegetarian, despises eggplant. He abhors the texture and protests at the taste.

Imagine being a vegetarian and not liking eggplant? It's a disability. Truly.

Usually, when Jonas isn't home, I take the opportunity to cook fish or meat but one night I seized the chance to use eggplant. And the best eggplant dish of all has got to be eggplant parmigiana.

Nonna would make the most delectable melazane all parmigiana and we'd all fight over it. Except for Ludo, whose gluten intolerance meant Nonna used rice flour and made Ludo her own sacred batch.

Inspired by memories of Nonna's melanzane, I decided to make my own eggplant and cheese bake. The results were magnificent and I ate 3 servings! Jonas found some leftovers when he came home and ate them, declaring it was so good he could forget that it was eggplant.

High praise indeed.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 2 as a side dish or 1 as an indulgent dinner.

1 medium eggplant
1 egg, whisked
½ cup fine breadcrumbs
½ cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated parmigiano
Seasoned flour, for dusting
Oil, for frying

300ml passata (tomato sauce)
1 dried small red chilli, sliced finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Olive oil
Pinch each of salt, pepper and sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180’C
2. Slice eggplant into 1.5cm rounds. Dust with salt and sandwich between two paper towels and cutting boards weighed down with cans. This will draw out some of the extra moisture in the eggplant.
3. Meanwhile make the sauce. In a pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and fry the garlic and chilli until softened.
4. Add the white wine and bring to the boil. Evaporate the alcohol for 2 minutes then return to a low heat.
5. Add the oregano, passata, salt, pepper and sugar then simmer gently with the lid on.
6. Start heating oil to shallow fry eggplant.
7. Remove the eggplant, wash off the salt and pat dry with paper towels.8. Dust eggplant slices with seasoned flour, then dip in egg and coat with breadcrumbs. Drop into the oil and cook until golden brown on both sides (3-4 minutes). Don’t over crowd the frying pan and be sure to drain finished slices on paper towels.
9. In a baking dish, coat the base with a little tomato sauce. Layer eggplant in a single layer, slightly overlapping each other.
10. Cover with mozzarella and then parmigiano and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese has melted and is starting to brown on the edges. Serve with crusty bread and a good glass of wine.


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