Comfort Food Recipes I Love: Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan, or parmigiana di melanzane in Italian, is one of those classic southern Italy dishes. Although there are several theories as to its origins, it is often associated closely with cooking in Naples and is considered very popular in Calabria and Sicily, too.

My recipe sticks to its traditional roots. To me, why tweak a dish that, for centuries, remains just as delicious and current as it did all those years ago? It comes down to the simple combination of eggplant and tomatoes: together they create a mouthful of magic, and a richness that’s truly divine.

The best advice I can give you when cooking is this: make multiples! That way you always have something stored in your freezer for an upcoming meal. I make multiples of this recipe because  it works well with so many different dishes, whether you pair it with chicken, lamb or pasta.

Eggplant Parmesan Ingredients:

  • 3 small eggplant
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 ball Buffalo Mozzarella, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 8 ripe tomatoes
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Pre-heat your oven to 340 degrees

Eggplant:

  • Wash the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise
  • Take your fork and score the pulp taking care not to damage the skin
  • Place a garlic clove and Basil leaf on each
  • Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and Extra Virgin Olive Oil – bake for 35 minutes

Concasse:

  • Take a pot of water to the boil
  • Make small incisions into each tomato (it helps to remove the skin afterwards) and submerge into the boiling water for one minute
  • Off to the side, have a bowl filled with ice water at the ready
  • Remove tomatoes from boiling water and place immediately in the ice water for two minutes
  • Remove tomatoes from the ice water and peel the skins, then remove all the seeds and membranes (place the seeds and membranes in a separate bowl), then cut each tomato in half
  • In the bowl with the seeds and membranes add a generous pinch of salt and purée with a fork, then strain this mixture with a strainer over a new bowl to capture all of the juices.
  • In a new bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes with this strained puree and season with salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of warmed Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mozzarella Sauce:

  • In a saucepan, warm the cream over medium heat
  • Chop the Buffalo mozzarella and add to the cream – cook for another 3-5 minutes until the cheese has slightly melted into the mixture
  • Take off the heat and blend the mixture in a food processer, seasoning to taste
Eggplan Parmesan on Plate

To Serve:

Pour a healthy spoonful of the delicious mozzarella sauce onto your plate, place the eggplant in the middle of the sauce and then top the entire dish with 1 tablespoon of the tomato concasse. If desired, you can also fork some additional tomato sauce around the plate for presentation.

P.S.: A crusty chunk of Italian bread works wonders mopping up all of the delicious sauce!

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