Three things you need to know about Eggplant Parmesan ……
1. It is one of my all time favourite meals and reminds of my Nanna Settimina( who made it the BEST)
2. It IS time consuming but so worth it.
3. Makes a great vegetarian meal for a crowd.
I am going to take you through this process and at the end you will get your very own Badge of Eggplant Parmesan Achievement ( not really, but you should!)Clear your schedule and lets do this!
Head to your local market or grocery store and choose your fruit, eggplant and zucchini are interchangeable but work really well together. Choose firm smooth fruit, blemishes are to be expected so just work with it.You want about 6-10 eggplant depending on the amount you want to feed ( 10 will feed about 8-10 pl so count on about 1 eggplant per person and of course these estimates are for Italian families lol)
Wash and slice your fruit into 1/2 – 1 cm thick pieces. This next step is kind of important SWEAT THE EGGPLANT and zucchini! If you have never heard this term before it is the process of adding salt to the slices which draws out the bitterness and excess moisture from the fruit giving a more “meaty” texture. Just sprinkle the salt liberally over the slices and toss to coat, let sit for at least 30 minutes while they sweat it out:) After the sweating I give them a quick rinse and pat dry with paper towel, onto the next step!
So here is where things start to take shape, you want to make an egg wash, mine is just 2 eggs and a tablespoon of water beaten together. Seasoned bread crumbs, about 3cups then I add spices of my liking, oregano, Epicure Roasted Garlic Aioli powder,Epicure Herb and Garlic, 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.Dip each slice into your egg wash, then bread crumbs to coat and lay out on a baking sheet in a single layer (tip: use parchment paper, makes clean up easy and they tend to brown up nicer). This is where mine differs from tradition, I bake them instead of frying each slice. Saves you a little bit of time and lots of calories from the oil. Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 20-30 minutes flipping once half way through baking time.I do two baking sheets at a time, one on the upper rack and one on the lower rack then rotate them at the half way mark as well.Once they are browned on both sides take them out of the oven and prepare for topping!
Traditionally the next step would be to layer them in a deep baking dish with tomato sauce , cheese, basil and some olive oil then bake again till they are all bubbly and gooey which you can do if you have another 2 hours to spare but by this point in the day the vultures( I mean kids) are circling wanting to know when we can eat! So we deconstruct and just top them with a fresh made tomato sauce ( which should have been put on to simmer while the eggplant was baking but sometimes we forget, no biggie) some grated mozzarella and more parmesan.
That first bite is always the best!