Tag Archives: Mario Batali

Eggplant Parmesan (for Snobs)

“A true snob never rests; there is always a higher goal to attain…”  – J. Russell Lynes, editor of Harper’s Magazine

So as you know, I like to stick to the traditional versions of the food on my list. My whole schtick is to  get a feel for the classic flavors and methods.

Well so much for that.

I’ve had eggplant parmesan.  Or rather, I’ve had “eggplant parmesan” (quotes intentional) which was pretty much breading covered in sauce and cheese.  OOhhh, someone’s feeling a little snobby!

I was hoping that when I tackled this recipe it would be better than the restaurant versions I’d had in the past.  More flavorful and more interesting.  (Seriously, so snobby!) So I had an open mind when I found this non-traditional but still authentic recipe from Mario Batali: Parmigiana di Melanzane.

Step one with any eggplant recipe is to remove the bitterness from the eggplant.  This is done with a mixture of white wine and group therapy.  Or maybe just salt.  Slice the eggplant, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for 30 minutes while the bitter juices weep out of the eggplant.  For real, it’s called “weeping”.

Letting the eggplant "weep". I couldn't tell if it was weeping out of joy or sadness...eggplant are tricky like that.

While the eggplant was weeping, quietly thank goodness, I made the basic tomato sauce, which is really simple.  Saute your onions and garlic in olive oil. Add fresh thyme and chopped carrots.  Then add your can of whole tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes.  Simple!

So our sauce is cooking and we’re done weeping (for now).  Rinse and dry the eggplant…maybe with a few words of encouragement since its probably still emotional.  The eggplant now gets dipped in egg and pressed into the breadcrumbs to coat.

eggplant in breadcrumbs

Now that the eggplant has wept, it gets a coat of breadcrumbs. After I weep, I usually just get ice cream.

Mario’s recipe doesn’t call for dipping in egg, but all the reviews stated that it was hard to adhere the breadcrumbs without it.  So, I went with my instinct and dipped the eggplant first.

The coated rounds of eggplant go into a saute pan of heated olive oil for a few minutes on each side:

sauted eggplant

The eggplant was no longer weeping, but rather was rejoicing, because what isn't happier when breaded and fried!?

Now comes the biggest divergence with our traditional recipe.  As you fry the rounds of eggplant, they get placed on a large baking sheet:

breaded and fried eggplant

Breaded, fried eggplant...not a tear in sight!

As you can tell, there are varying sizes of eggplant.  Choose the largest ones to be the “base” of each of your stacks.

The eggplant parmesan now gets layered in the following order:

1. eggplant

2. spoonful of tomato sauce (mmmmm)

3. slice of fresh mozzarella (double mmmmm)

4. Parmesan cheese

5. Another slice of eggplant

Repeat for each of your stacks ending with a sprinkle of Parmesan on the top of each.  They are now little towers of Italian goodness:

eggplant parmesan ready for oven

Towers of eggplant. And yes, I'm cooking in a pure white button down shirt....I like to live dangerously.

So now our stacks are ready for the 350° oven.   They go in for a brief 15 minutes to melt the cheese into the warm loveliness that pretty much equals Eggplant Parmesan.

And then:

eggplant parmesan

Ready to be served/devoured depending on your mood

GORGEOUS!  Melty, crispy and a little sweet.  I hate to say it, but they were way better than your typical restaurant “eggplant parmesan”.  Actually…I don’t hate to say it, because it was really good.

eggplant parmesan

Seriously...don't these look SO much better than the stuff hidden under the blanket of cheese!?

So as you can tell by my enthusiastic captioning, they were delicious.  The eggplant was al dente, the sauce was light and a little sweet and they still had the appeal of frying and cheese.  Because I’ll readily admit…its still about the frying and the cheese.

UNFORESEEN BONUS(ES): 1. The sauce: make it.  Simple, fast and delicious.  A PERFECT topping. This Batali guy might really catch on. 2.  No meat!!  I usually have to think ahead to cook vegetarian, but this was perfect for Friday meal when meat was verboten for us and our house guests.  Totally had them convinced I was a pro.

Dinner was light and satisfying, the snobs guests were happy, no one wept except for the eggplant.

AND my white shirt remained spotlessly white.  (Cue tears of joy)

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. Things are slowing down in the Flyover house after an extended busy season at work.  More posts at a much quicker rate.  HUZZAH!

Friday Hot Dish- 10/15

Hope you saved room, because here’s the

FRIDAY HOT DISH!

1. This week was the World Food Prize, an annual celebration of those who have made contributions to end world hunger.  The event was started by Dr. Norman Borlaug, a native son born, raised, and educated in Flyover country.  He’s also a Nobel prize winner who is credited with saving more lives than anyone in history.   That’s one hell of an accomplishment.  Spend a couple minutes reading about the past recipients of the honor….it’s an inspiring group: World Food Prize Laureates

All set up for the World Food Prize

2. I don’t have children (yet.) (No, that’s not a hint.) But I  have a slew of nieces and nephews with some food “issues”.  Too be fair, I used to cry when my mom made corned beef.  And my older sister used to shun all mom’s dinners in favor of sandwiches of white bread and ham and cheese loaf. (I know. Shudder).  Check out this awesome slide show of parents succumbing to kids’ tastes.  I’m am so making that ostrich egg.  Give ‘Em What They Want

3. So other than election results, what else is happening on November 2nd?  The return of the elusive cult favorite, the McRib.  I think the Handsome Husband already has it marked on his calendar.  McRib returns And yes,  there are people who hunt the elusive McRib down, trying to locate it in its natural habitat.  I think I may be married to one of them….McRib Hunters

4. New HOT DISH feature: There is so much food literature out there.  From books on eating well to collections of personal essays on food, to behind the scenes stories from some of America’s top restaurants.  So each week, I’ll link to a new food book for you to check out.

I’ll start with one I’ve actually read.   The bestseller Heat by Bill Buford is all about Mario Batali’s rise to fame, the kitchen at famed restaurant Babbo, and learning the art of butchering.  The stories of Batali’s appetite and energy are almost exhausting to read, but the full access he gave to the author makes it an amazing story.  The butchering Check it out here: Heat

Hope I peaked your appetites looking ahead to this gorgeous fall weekend.   More next week including our FINAL 30 before 30 recipe post.

xoxo Flyover Foodie