Wednesday, 17 September 2014

In the Kitchen: Perfect Eggplant Parmesan!

Having a massive America's Test Kitchen cookbook can seem overwhelming. Oh which recipe to make?! My husband was on a quest to make the perfect Eggplant Parmesan. Where better to turn than the volumes of America's Test Kitchen. I made the simple sauce and my husband took on the rest. It turned out to be such a beautiful meal with just the right amount of rich flavors. Also we saved a couple steps by using pre-made Panko breadcrumbs, and making a sauce without using the food processor. Plus using Japanese Eggplant made this dish more manageable to execute and  I really prefer the flavor and texture of these. 

What you need

2 pounds globe eggplant or Japanese Eggplant cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
2 oz Parmesan cheese grated (1 cup)
1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour 
4 large eggs
6 tbsp vegetable oil

Tomato Sauce
1 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes 
2 14.5 oz cans of organic pureed tomatoes
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste

8 oz whole milk or part- skim mozzarella cheese shredded (about 2 cups)
1 oz Parmesan cheese grated (about 1/2 cup)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn for garnish


  1. Toss half the eggplant in a bowl with 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Transfer to a colander over a large bowl. Repeat with 2nd half of eggplant and place on top of the the first half. Allow eggplant to release water for the next 30 minutes. Lay eggplant on triple layer of paper towels and cover top with triple layer of paper towels as well. Press firmly and then wipe excess salt. 
  2. While eggplant is draining adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower middle positions, place rimmed baking sheet on each level and heat oven to 425 degrees. 
  3. Meanwhile place breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1/4 tsp table salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper to a pie plate and set aside. Wipe out the work bowl and do not rinse.
  4. Combine flour and 1 tsp pepper in a large zipper-lock bag and shake to combine. Beat the eggs in a separate pie plate. Place 10 slices of eggplant into the bag with flour and shake. Dust off excess flour and dip each eggplant round in the eggs. Allow excess egg to run off and dip in the breadcrumb mixture. Place each round on a wire cooling rack. 
  5. Remove the heated baking sheets from the oven and add 3 tbsp  of the oil to each and tilt to coat pans. Place half the eggplant rounds on each baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Switching and rotating the baking sheets after 10 minutes and flipping the eggplants slices after 20 minutes. Keep oven on.
  6. While eggplant are baking place a large saucepan over medium high heat and heat olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes until fragrant and light golden brown, stir occasionally. About 3 minutes. Stir in all tomatoes, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer stirring occasionally. Simmer for about 15 minutes and season with salt, pepper, and sprinkle with basil once sauce is finished. 
  7. Spread sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish. Layer eggplant slices overlapping in a single layer in the baking dish.   Pour a cup of sauce over the layer and sprinkle with half the mozzarella. Repeat except leaving top layer exposed with less sauce in order to create a crispy finish, top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, about 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and scatter basil over the top. Serve with remaining sauce on the side or with sauce and fresh pasta if desired. 
  8. Enjoy! 

This recipe while quite intensive becomes much easier once you've made it once. Plus this recipe is one of the most delicious Eggplant Parmesans I've had. It's like restaurant quality at home! 

From the Harvest Table,

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