March 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
you will need:
an egg or two
mozzarella cheese (and other cheeses if desired: ricotta, more parm, etc)
a jar of tomato sauce AND/OR tomatoes, onion peppers, zucchini, etc tomato paste
FIRST- THE EGGPLANT PREP
cut your eggplant into rounds the short way. sprinkle kosher salt over a paper towel, and lay eggplant slices atop. liberally sprinkle more kosher salt over the eggplant, and cover with a second piece of paper towel. leave on the counter-top to do its thing. (the goal: to get rid of some of the eggplant’s natural moisture. secondary goal: avoid messy clean-up– enter paper towels). can be done an hour or more ahead.
ok. there’s the easy way (buy a jar of tomato sauce at the store), the hard way (totally from scratch! i hope you’re good at seasoning!), and then there’s something in the middle, which is where i typically end up.
My way: saute half an onion in olive oil in a pot over medium heat. add a few chopped tomatoes and simmer. chop and add in additional veggies– whatever you have– zucchini, peppers, etc. continue to stir, and add more olive oil as needed. add tomato paste for extra flavor (I like the super concentrated stuff that comes in the tube, but the can will work fine, too). let it go for a while until everything becomes nice and soft. Add herbs de provence if you have some handy. or fresh basil. mmmm, fresh basil. Though your tomatoes have disintegrated and made with the saucy, decide that you don’t have quite enough sauce, and dump in 1/4-1/2 jar of the store bought stuff. combine, and leave on the back burner to warm.
THIRD— THE WORK/ASSEMBLY
preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
get a big frying pan, and coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil (1/4 inch?). resist the urge to use olive oil– the smoking temp is too low. heat over a medium flame. NB: don’t smoke the oil! if it’s smoking the burner is too hot. also, you should probably consider dumping and starting over with some new oil. also, never do that again.
remove the paper towel from the eggplant, and brush off any excess salt (there WILL be excess salt). prepare four bowls in the following order: milk, flour, egg, and a mix of breadcrumbs and grated parm.
dip the eggplant in the bowls, in the order listed above, and make sure you’re coating both sides of the eggplant in each bowl. Remark that you’ve now ended up with something resembling kindergarden paste on your hands. CAREFULLY and SLOWLY place the breaded eggplant into the now very hot oil (a tip: the oil is ready if you flick some water into it and it sizzles. do this from afar, or you will also know that the oil is ready, as it will have given you second-degree splash burns). let the eggplant brown on one side, and then flip to brown on the second side.
in a casserole dish, layer sauce, eggplant, mozz, fresh basil iffin you’re feeling so inclined,maybe some ricotta, and repeat until your dish is filled up. end with a layer of sauce and sprinkle the top with some parm. cover, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes ish, or until cheese is all nice and melty and sauce is nice and bubbly. remove and let sit for about 10 minutes to set up. EAT!
incidentally, this makes awesome leftovers. and this coming from a girl who really, really dislikes leftovers. just warm on the stove-top in a pan with a little olive oil.