Fabulous Recipe: Eggplant Parmigiana
A Northern Italian classic, eggplant parmigiana is a hearty casserole dish made with sliced eggplant, mozzarella, and tomato sauce with a chiffonade of basil and generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. The casserole can be assembled, covered, and refrigerated or frozen. Before baking, let stand until at room temperature and the center has thawed. Served family style at a buffet or in individual portions, this hearty vegetarian dish is sure to please your pickiest guests.
- 4 large eggplants (5 pounds)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Tomato sauce
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese in water, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup grated imported Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. Peel the eggplants and trip off the stem ends. Cut the eggplants into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices out on several thicknesses of paper towels and sprinkle them generously with salt on both sides. Cover the salted slices with more paper towels and repeat with the remaining eggplants and salt, continuing to stack the slices with paper towels between and covering the top layer with more paper towels. Place heavy weights such as large pots on top and allow the eggplant to stand for 1 hour. With a clean, damp cloth, wipe the eggplant slices to remove as much of the salt as possible.
2. In a large skillet, heat about ¼ inch of the oil over medium-high heat. Add some of the eggplant slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and place them on paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, adding more oil as needed.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
4. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of a 15 x 10-inch baking dish. Arrange a third of the eggplant slices over the sauce. Scatter a third of the mozzarella cheese pieces, then a third of the Parmesan and a third of the basil over the eggplant layer. Spoon a third of the remaining tomato sauce over all. Repeat this process 2 more times, using half of the remaining eggplant, cheeses, basil, and tomato sauce for each layer.
5. Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges. Remove the casserole from the oven and allow it to stand for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.