Friday, September 8, 2000 Living L7

The Cooking of Italy

Parmigiana di Melanzane

Eggplant Parmesan

Reproduced without permission from Time-Life Books "The Cooking of Italy"
  • 1 ½ pounds eggplant, peeled and cut in ½-inch slices
  • Salt
  • Flour
  • ¼ to ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (L8)
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese
   Preheat the oven to 400°. Choose a shallow 1 ½- to 2-quart baking dish that is attractive enough to serve from and rub it with oil.
   Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with salt (to draw out their moisture) and spread them out in one layer on a platter or board. After 20 to 30 minutes, pat the eggplant dry with paper towels. Dip each slice in flour and shake or brush off the excess.
   In a heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet, heat ¼ cup of olive oil until a light haze forms over it and brown the eggplant slices a few at a time, working quickly to prevent them from soaking up too much oil. If the oil cooks away, add more. As the eggplant browns, transfer the slices to fresh paper towels to drain.
   Now pour ¼ inch of the tomato sauce into the oiled baking-and-serving dish. Spread the drained eggplant slicces over the sauce, top them with a layer of mozzarella cheese, and sprinkle over it part of the grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat with 1 or 2 more layers (depending on the capacity of the baking dish), but be sure to finish with layers of the tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover the dish snugly with foil and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes longer.
   OPTIONAL: Put the dish under a hot broiler for a few seconds to brown the cheese on top, but do not overcook it or the cheese will become rubbery. Serve directly from the baking dish.
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