I’m a little nervous about Italian month.
I know the ingredients are paramount. The dishes are simple, and rely on high quality ingredients – if I can’t find those ingredients, will the food even taste all that great?
I also know that most of what you find in Italian food is inauthentic. Jarred tomato sauce, mozzarella and herb mixes. How will I know if the recipes I find are the real deal?
This month I’m not working from a cookbook, but rather taking inspiration from my favorite dishes in restaurants and whatever looks delicious on the internet. Good thing people love Italian food and there are no shortage of recipes to try.
First up Eggplant Parmesan.
I would not categorize this Eggplant Parmesan recipe under “easy” or “fast”. But most of the best dishes do not fall under those categories either.
Sometimes the good stuff takes a little bit of work.
The silver lining is that this Eggplant Parmesan lasted f.o.r.e.v.e.r. in the fridge. Four solid meals for 2 people. And one of those people eats like 3…
BUT ALSO THIS RECIPE PRODUCES THE BEST MARINARA SAUCE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.
I said it. And I mean it.
Maybe it’s because you hand squeeze the tomatoes. Or it’s because the sauce spends 2 plus hours in the oven. I have no idea, but I’m not questioning it. This is my go-to red sauce from here on out (you know when I have a cool 2 hours to spare).
And the eggplant. Ohhh the eggplant. I didn’t peel the eggplant like the original recipe states, because I didn’t read it closely.
I ended up with the creamiest dreamiest eggplant, sandwiched between cheese and sauce and breadcrumbs.
This is a special recipe, perfect for a Sunday dinner with friends or family.
I found this recipe on Bon Appetit.
(Start making 4 hours before you want Eggplant Parmesan)
Start by making the sauce. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large pot (that can also go in the oven), heat up the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, anchovies and red pepper flakes. Cook until onions are translucent and garlic is lightly browned. Season with salt.
Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine and deglaze the pan. Add the tomatoes by crushing them with your hands over the pot. Add oregano and basil. Take the cans and swirl 1 1/2 cups of water between the two and pour into the pot. Season with more salt. Cook in the oven, uncovered for 2 – 2 1/2 hours, stir halfway.
Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and blend with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth.
Meanwhile, make the eggplant. Season the eggplant slices with salt. Line a baking pan with paper towels and layer eggplant with paper towels until you’ve sandwiched all eggplant with paper towels. Place another pan on top and to put some pressure on the eggplant for 60-90 minutes.
Pulse panko, oregano, pepper and 3/4 cup parmesan in a food processor until very finely ground.
Heat half the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. In three shallow bowls, add flour to one, beaten eggs to another and breadcrumb mixture in the last. Dip an eggplant slice in flour, shake off excess, then tip in egg, then dip in breadcrumb mixture. Fit in the pan, cook for 5 minutes and flip halfway through. Lay the cooked eggplant on paper towels to soak up extra oil. Season lightly with salt immediately. Repeat with remaining oil and eggplant slices until all are cooked.
Mix low moisture mozzarella, remaining parmesan and herbs together in a bowl.
In a 13×9 inch oven safe dish, layer the eggplant, cheese and sauce. Start with a layer of sauce at the bottom, then eggplant, then cheese, then sauce, then eggplant, then cheese, then sauce, then eggplant, then cheese, then sauce.
Phew! Cook for 45-55 minutes at 350F. Then turn the oven to 425F and lay the fresh mozzarella slices on top and cook for another 20 minutes.
Remove and let cool 15 minutes before slicing into your Eggplant Parmesan!