Category Archives: Italian
Eggplant is a wonderfully creamy, silky and delicious vegetable, but it requires a little care to make it that way. It is literally a sponge and, if you don’t salt it to draw out the excess moisture and collapse the air pockets in the flesh, you’ll get something very greasy and not too nice. Today, I’m gonna show you how to prep the eggplant in this Italian classic, Eggplant Parmigiana. Stay tuned because it’s all about to happen right now on The Aimless Cook.
a basic red sauce
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, finely shredded
- 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
- 2 x 28 oz cans of tomatoes
- salt to season
Start with a 6 quart saucepan on medium heat with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 8 minutes til the onions are soft. Once the onions are done, add the thyme and carrot and continue to cook for another 5 minutes til the carrots are soft.
Finally add the tomatoes, bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes until the mixture reduces and becomes sauce. At this point, you can hit it with an immersion blender to make it smooth, or leave it rustic and chunky. Season with salt and it’s ready to use. You can keep it in the fridge for a week or freeze for up to 3 months.
- 2 large eggplants (aubergines), sliced into ½ inch rounds
- olive oil
- mozzarella cheese, shredded
- parmigiana reggiano, finely grated
- panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- parsley and garlic powder
On a large flat surface or rack, lay out 2 large eggplants sliced into ½ inch rounds in a single layer and generously salt them with kosher salt on both sides. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes to draw out the excess moisture. During this time, they will start to become wet as the moisture is drawn out. Also, the cellular structure of the flesh is collapsing. This is important because now, it won’t suck in all the oil from the grilling.
When the eggplants have sat for 30 minutes, dry off the excess moisture with a towel and brush with olive oil. Grill on medium heat until they have some nice colour and set aside.
In a small skillet, add 2 tablespoons of butter and about ½ cup of panko. Add a pinch each of garlic powder and dried parsley and toss until lightly toasted. Set aside.
Here’s the fun part. Starting with a casserole dish or individual oven-proof serving crocks, assemble the dish by starting with a layer of sauce, followed by a slice of eggplant, more sauce, then mozza. Repeat til you get to the top, then finish the last layer of mozza with some parmigiana reggiano, panko and more parm. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown and bubbly good. When it’s done, let stand for about 10 minutes to cool slightly then serve.