I remember the first time I ever had eggplant. It was at my Aunt Bertha’s. I was probably about seven at the time and I really wasn’t too impressed with the idea of eating this purple oblong thing. That is until I tried it. It was surprisingly good.
Tonight I made Eggplant Parmesan; a ubiquitous use of eggplant. It was a toss-up between that or ratatouille and I figured the former would be a little more successful.
Susan claims this was the best eggplant Parmesan she has ever eaten.
Here is what I did:
2 medium eggplants
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1. BREAD EGGPLANT. Cut two ¾-inch planks lengthwise from center of each eggplant and cut remaining eggplant into ½-inch dice. Place flour in shallow dish. Beat eggs in second shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs, ¼ cup Parmesan, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in third shallow dish. One at a time, coat eggplant slices lightly with flour, dip them in egg, and dredge in bread-crumb mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer to wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and let sit 5 minutes.
2. COOK EGGPLANT. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat ½ cup oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook eggplant slices until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to wire rack set inside baking sheet and bake until eggplant is tender and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
3. MAKE SAUCE. Meanwhile, pour off oil and wipe out skillet with paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chopped eggplant and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining oil, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 -seconds. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until eggplant is tender and sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper; cover and keep warm.
4. ASSEMBLE. Combine remaining Parmesan and provolone in medium bowl. Top browned eggplant slices with cheese mixture and bake until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Transfer half of sauce to platter and top with eggplant slices. Spoon remaining sauce over eggplant. You may also serve with a thin spaghetti. If you do, plate spaghetti and then top with sauce, eggplant slices and remaining sauce.