Lately at the farmers market they have had gorgeous eggplants. I’ve never been much of a vegetable lover but I’ve always loved the color of eggplant. It just looks so rich and delicious!
Jamie of Life’s a Feast recently blogged about eggplant saying, “I adore eggplant, brilliant, deep violet skin like the darkest of garnets or a rich, ruby red wine. Voluptuous eggplants, firm, dense and curvaceous, hinting of Old World decadence and gorgeous, fleshy women draped sensually across red velvet sofas. Slice through them and breath in the fresh scent, stare at the white, white flesh. Once considered dangerous, thought to induce insanity or, worse, to be a powerful aphrodisiac, I love touching these gorgeous beings, ogling them, stroking them and cooking them. I have been dreaming of a luscious Eggplant Parmesan, the eggplant thinly sliced and flash fried snuggling down deep in a thick, heady, fragrant tomato sauce, layered between meltingly hot, gooey cheese.”
I was breathless just reading about it. How could I resist making it when those gorgeous eggplants were just waiting for me at the farmers market.
And I wasn’t disappointed. The recipe is fabulous! I made a few changes to accommodate what I had on hand. My version is below, but be sure and stop by Jamie’s (my wonderful French blogging buddy) and read her beautifully written post and see her gorgeous step by step photos and instructions. Thanks for sharing this one Jamie. It is definitely a keeper!
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 – 20 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
3 x 15 oz cans crushed tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
The homemade Tomato Sauce
2 large, firm eggplants
1 ½ cups grated mozzarella
1 – 2 cups grated Parmesan
Flour for dredging
Vegetable or olive oil for frying
Combine onion, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a large, heavy pot with a lid. Simmer for five minutes over medium heat, stirring, and then add the crushed tomato. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer for about 30 - 40 minutes with the lid on but allowing about ¼-inch to allow steam to escape. It should be flavorful and thickened. Set aside until you're ready to layer it with the eggplant. The sauce is best when it's made in advance.
Peel the eggplant and slice off and discard the 2 ends of each. Slice the eggplant lengthwise evenly into ¼ to ½ - inch slices, salt both sides, then let them sit for 20 minutes. This draws out the moisture. After 20 minutes, rinse, and then pat dry with a kitchen towel.
In a large skillet, heat about half-inch of oil. Dredge each eggplant slice in the flour, coating both sides and shaking off the excess. Fry the slices in batches, a couple of minutes on each side, until golden. Remove slices to a plate while you fry the rest of the batches.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In the bottom of a large baking pan or dish, spread one ladleful of Tomato Sauce to cover the bottom. Layer, overlapping, half of the eggplant slices on top of the sauce.
Ladle on half of the remaining Tomato Sauce, spreading to cover the eggplant slices evenly. Sprinkle on half of the grated Parmesan cheese then layer on half of the mozzarella to cover.
Repeat with the rest of the eggplant slices, then the rest of the sauce, the rest of the parmesan and finally cover it all with the remaining mozzarella.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden.