OF ALL THE
Almost any time I see Eggplant Parmesan on a restaurant menu, I order it. I have enjoyed many good versions and some not too great. But never one as tasty as this recipe.
I must confess, this is not my favorite thing to cook. It is not difficult but it involves many steps and it is messy. It involves two different cheeses, one of which needs to be sliced and the other grated. Three bowls are used for preparing the eggplant for frying--flour, then egg, then crumbs. And yes, frying, the messiest of messy for the home cook. Fresh garlic is minced and a sauce is made. It is a true labor of love.
This is not an everyday meal at our house. I make this for special occasions. Special occasions are times when family gather, whether for birthdays, holidays, weddings, family reunions, even funerals.
The recipe comes from one of my old hippie cookbooks, The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, c.1972. I love the author's philosophical introduction to the book and have read it many times over the years; almost every time I take out the book.
I always chuckle when I read, "The two-hours-later course is especially recommended if grass is smoked socially at your house. If you have passed a joint around before dinner to sharpen gustatory perceptions, you most likely will pass another one after dinner, and everyone knows what that will do--the blind munchies can strike at any time".
Use the best quality ingredients including the olive oil which lends so much flavor to the dish. Over the years, I have used dried and fresh breadcrumbs, wheat germ, and panko, all with good results. I have used both Swiss and Mozzarella cheese and prefer the latter. For the wine, I have used several good, dry reds, but my personal favorite for this dish is Burgundy.
The recipe is easily doubled and tripled to feed a crowd. And while you're at it, why not?
1 medium eggplant
1 egg beaten with some milk
Breadcrumbs or wheat germ
1/2 pound Swiss or Mozzarella, sliced
6 oz. tomato paste
Red wine as needed
Pinch of oregano
Clove of garlic
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
Wash your eggplant and, without peeling it, slice it about 1/2-inch thick. Dip slices first in flour, then into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs. Saute them in a little olive oil, a few at a time, until they are nicely browned on both sides. Tend them carefully and add oil as it is needed.
When they are crisp and brown, arrange them in a baking dish and put a slice or two of Swiss or Mozzarella on each one. Make a thick tomato sauce by diluting the tomato paste with wine. Mix the tomato sauce with the oregano, salt, pepper, and crushed garlic clove. Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons on each slice. Finally, sprinkle the grated Parmesan on top of it all. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes and serve steaming hot.