Growing up, I was never really an eggplant person. It wasn’t that I had any personal grudge against it; we just didn’t have any around the house so I was never really exposed to it. Later on I tried it a few times, but I always had a weird texture and I was iffy about the whole thing.

Then, one evening, I accompanied my Dad to the Met in NY. Now, the Metropolitan Opera is pretty spectacular, in and of itself, but it is also the avenue through which I discovered Fiorello’s. It is a cafe right across the street from Lincoln Center and it is somewhat of a family tradition to go hang out over there after the opera. The restaurant is nice, but the real beauty is the antipasto bar. There’s an iced seafood bar, fat asparagus, freshly shaved prosciutto, soft balls of buffalo mozzarella, peppers and sausage and, yes, eggplant parmesan. Fiorello’s is where I learned to love eggplant.

Alas, I do not have the recipe for Fiorella’s egggplant parm, but I did find one in the previously mentioned book, Vegetables, by James Peterson. At first glance, it seems like a lot of ingredients and it has the potential to be costly. However, ponder this, I got 10 servings out of it: 4 lunches, 2 dinners and 4 servings in my freezer for later. So there’s a bunch of effort on the front end, but it’s the dish that keeps on giving.  Lastly, this is one of those dishes that is just way better the next day. Everything just holds together and tastes better. So give eggplant a go. I mean, how bad can anything be once it’s been smothered in tomato sauce and cheese?

 

eggplant parm-0319

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs eggplant, in 3/8 ” slices
2 medium onions, minced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
6 C canned tomatoes, drained, or 12 medium tomatoes, seeded and peeled
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar, plus more as needed
salt & pepper, to taste
30 oz ricotta
12 oz mozzarella balls, fresh, sliced 1/4″ thick, plus more as needed/desired
1 tbsp marjoram or thyme
1 C parmesan cheese

 

 

eggplant parm-0333

 

Preheat oven to 375º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Spread the eggplant out over the sheets and brush the eggplant with oil. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 20 minutes.

eggplant parm-0354

 

 

Saute the onion and garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil until fragrant and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add the drained tomatoes, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes. The sauce should be very thick at this point. Stir in the sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

 

eggplant parm-0360

 

Grease a large baking dish with olive oil and Spread half of the eggplant across the bottom. Brush the eggplant with olive oil and season with some more salt & pepper.

 

eggplant parm-0363

 

Spread about half of the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Next layer half the ricotta cheese, followed by half the mozzarella.

 

eggplant parm-0365

 

Sprinkle half the herbs and parmesan cheese over everything.

 

eggplant parm-0368

 

Now start again with the eggplant, then tomato, reserving a little, then ricotta and mozzarella and herbs. Spread the small remaining tomatoes sauce thinly over everything and cover with the remaining parm.

 

 

eggplant parm-0369

 

Bake in a 375º oven for about 45 minutes, or until the cheese on top is bubbly and brown.

 

 

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Let rest, at a minimum, for 15 minutes. Resting for several hours or overnight is preferable. Trust me, it tastes better if you let it completely cool and then reheat it when it is time to eat.

 

 

 

Eggplant Parmesan
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ lbs eggplant, in ⅜ " slices
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 6 C canned tomatoes, drained, or 12 medium tomatoes, seeded and peeled
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar, plus more as needed
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 30 oz ricotta
  • 12 oz mozzarella balls, fresh, sliced ¼" thick, plus more as needed/desired
  • 1 tbsp marjoram or thyme
  • 1 C parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with olive oil.
  3. Spread the eggplant out over the sheets and brush the eggplant with oil. Season with salt and pepper, then bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Saute the onion and garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil until fragrant and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the drained tomatoes, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes. The sauce should be very thick at this point.
  6. Stir in the sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  7. Grease a large baking dish with olive oil and spread half of the eggplant across the bottom. Brush the eggplant with olive oil and season with some more salt & pepper. Spread about half of the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Next layer half the ricotta cheese, followed by half the mozzarella. Sprinkle half the herbs and parmesan cheese over everything.
  8. Now start again with the eggplant, then tomato, reserving a little, then ricotta and mozzarella and herbs. Spread the small remaining tomatoes sauce thinly over everything and cover with the remaining parm.
  9. Bake in a 375º oven for about 45 minutes, or until the cheese on top is bubbly and brown.
  10. Let rest, at a minimum, for 15 minutes. Resting for several hours or overnight is preferable. It tastes better if you let it completely cool and then reheat it when it is time to eat.