This past week, my family and I took a cooking class. My aunt hosted it at her house, and we had a great chef Pamela all the way from Italy come and teach us some of her tricks. We started with eggplant parmigiana and ended with cannoli. I don’t know about your family, but mine is Italian. Cook with an Italian chef, my Hispanic father and my French aunt and you know what you have? A very loud house. You know what is louder than my family? This eggplant parmigiana.
Ingredients: Chef Pamela Ganci
4 eggplants (1/4″ slices)
1 liter tomato sauce (make sure it’s plain, not pre-flavored)
3-4 leaves of basil
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 TBSP olive oil
2 cups flour
2 cups vegetable oil
1 quart (cubed) mozzarella cheese
1 quart (grated) parmigiano reggiano
1. Cut the eggplant into 1/4″ slices, getting rid of the top and the bottom. Toss one at a time into the flour, just lightly coating each side of the eggplant, then set into a bowl. While you are coating the eggplant, put the vegetable oil in a pan to heat up. If you want to use more oil you can, but just enough to hit halfway up the eggplant, not fully covered.
2. Once the eggplant is floured and the oil is hot, start frying. You just want to set the eggplant pieces in the oil a few at a time. Then flip to fry the other side once the pieces are a light brown. Once both sides are a light brown, take the eggplant out of the oil and set on a paper towel. Then fry up all the rest, putting a paper towel every few times so they soak up the extra oil.
- Make sure you don’t brown it too much. Remember, they will get darker once you pull them out.
3. While the eggplant is cooling, start the tomato sauce. You want to get plain sauce because you will be adding all the flavor. In a pot, put the olive oil and minced garlic then saute for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce with the basil leaves julianned (cut into strips). Then let simmer. Once it’s hot, add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Once everything is ready, get your pan out. You can use an 8×11 or something smaller if you want to make this into two meals and not one.
- Ladle out tomato sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add a layer of eggplant.
- Then another layer of tomato sauce
- Add both types of cheeses. Three handfuls of each.
- If you want, you can add more julianned basil which gives it an extra kick.
Do these steps two more times. You only want three layers total.
- Too many layers and it loses its integrity. If you decide to do two smaller pans’ worth, you can always freeze the other and eat later.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
When we sat down for dinner, I took a bite of every item we had made then gobbled up the eggplant parmigiano. The eggplant just melts in your mouth. Due to the cubed mozzarella, each layer has that crunch of crisp cheese like the top layer. The sauce is not overpowering, making it a perfect meal. My family ate the whole tray. This isn’t the end of this great Italian meal. As I mentioned before we made cannoli, but in between eggplant parmigiano and dessert we had chicken cacciatora which I will show you next week. Family style will be back with just as big a bang.
*Originally Published January 14, 2017, 6:03am