Eggplant Parmesan

Makes 8 first course servings. Makes 4-6 luncheon servings.

This is a non-oily, light version of a popular dish. I broil the eggplant and do not fry it. The entire dish can be assembled, refrigerated ahead of time, even the night before, and baked as needed. The sauce can also be done ahead of time and freezes well.

The recipe is simple – it’s layers of tomato sauce, eggplant and Parmesan cheese and then topped with mozzarella and panko.  

You may prefer to bake it in an attractive dish that can go directly from oven to the table.

INGREDIENTS

TOMATO SAUCE

  • 4 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 1 tablespoon double concentrate tomato paste.
  • 6 sun dried tomato halves in oil, cut into thin strips
  • 1 ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 baby (Italian) eggplants, 5-6 inches long
  • 5 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup grated imported Parmesan cheese (See Note)
  • 5 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

PREPARATION

TO MAKE THE SAUCE

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the onion and the garlic and simmer, covered, over low heat until tender, about 7 minutes. 
  3. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, sun dried tomatoes and the basil. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Season with salt and pepper.

PREHEAT THE BROILER

  1. Discard eggplant stems. Peel and cut the eggplant into ¼ inch rounds.
  2. Cover the whole broiling pan with heavy foil, which comes with most ovens. Then make a large shallow basket and place the eggplant slices on it.
  3. Using a pastry brush, brush the circles with oil on one side only. Broil close to the heat source without turning until lightly brown (about 5 minutes). You will have to do this in 2 batches.
  4. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cool if you are assembling and refrigerating the dish to be heated at a later time.

TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE DISH

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Thinly coat an 8x12 ungreased attractive baking dish with tomato sauce. Arrange eggplant rounds on top and sprinkle with all of the Parmesan cheese. Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella and top with Panko.
  3. Bake, uncovered in the oven for about ½ an hour or until bubbling hot.

NOTE:

My favorite Parmesan cheese comes from the Reggiano region in Italy. It was available in the US as a kosher cheese until about a year ago. It is supposed to be available again in October 2016.

Ideally I like to buy mine in Israel, where it is readily available. If I cannot go, I solicit members of my family.  I buy a large quantity, grate it in the food processor, and then freeze it.