Posted by: timscooking | June 16, 2010

Farmers’ Market – Day One Eggplant Parmigiana

It’s Sunday and I’ve got a whole crisper stuffed with vegetables from our Eastern Market trip. Since I”ve got the time, I thought that I would try one of the eggplant parmigiana recipes I’ve used in the past to work with the small eggplants I bought. This dish requires a bit of time and prep but the payoff is delicious. Usually the dish requires 2 large eggplants but I had purchased 3 baby eggplants so I decided to turn each into its own eggplant stack. Also breaking with tradition, fresh mozzarella is called for in any recipe I’ve ever read but since I had some smoked provolone in the fridge, that’s what I used. The play of the smoky cheese off the buttery eggplant and sweet tomato sauce gave it an interesting twist. I used some leftover tomato sauce I had made for pizza, you can make your own or use a jar of good commercial sauce instead.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the baking sheet
  • 3 baby eggplants, not Japanese eggplants which are long and thin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 c. basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, rolled into a cigar shape and thinly sliced (chiffonade)
  • 1/2 lb. smoked provolone, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 c. fresh bread crumbs, lightly toasted under broiler

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Using some extra-virgin olive oil, oil a baking sheet.

Slice each eggplant into 4 pieces about 1/2 inch thick. Lightly season each disk with salt and pepper and place on the oiled sheet. Bake the eggplant at 450 degrees F until the slices begin turning deep brown on top, about 10 -12 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the oven. Remove the slices from the baking sheet and place them on a plate to cool.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In an 8 by 12-inch pan or casserole, place the 3 largest eggplant slices evenly spaced apart. Over each slice, spread 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and sprinkle with a 1 tsp. of basil. Place one slice of provolone over each and sprinkle with 1 tsp. grated Parmigiano. Place the smaller slices of eggplant over each of the disks and repeat with tomato sauce, basil, and the 2 cheeses. Repeat the layering again until all the ingredients are used.

Sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over the top of the eggplant dish, and bake uncovered until the cheese is melts and the tops turn light brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

We each had one of the stacks along with a small salad. The third was Monday’s lunch.

 Basic tomato sauce:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, 1/4-inch dice

4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried

1 tsp. sugar

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

Salt

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and cook 5 minutes more. Add the sugar, tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until it thickens. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator.

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