I have always loved a properly made Melanzane a la Parmigiana or Eggplant Parmesan. There’s something so incredibly comforting about the texture, the oozing cheese, the tomato sauce that makes this almost as comforting as Spaghetti with ragu or Bolognese sauce. It’s also pretty high calorie, I suspect. But sometimes you just want a shortcut version, or at least I do. So when I came across this recipe from the New York Times, and I happened to have several large western eggplants wallowing in the fridge, I decided to make my own version for dinner that evening.
Instead of frying the eggplant naked like in the NYT recipe, I decided to coat the eggplant slices in a bit of seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs and deep fry them for a couple of minutes and let them rest, hoping the heat would fully cook the eggplants interiors, and they did. Just make sure you don’t cut the eggplants more than say 1/2 inch thick or you risk a bit of raw eggplant at the center, and that’s unpleasant.
On a large platter, I put down a bed of of wild arugula, topped that with the fried eggplant slices, a quick tomato sauce made from canned san marzano tomatoes crushed and sautéed with olive oil and salt and pepper, then slices of good mozzarella, lots of ripe tomatoes sliced in different ways, lots of shredded basil and drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar over everything. Oh, don’t forget some salt and pepper as well. This wasn’t really a gooey eggplant parm, more like a hot and cold salad with all the right flavor highlights. It was a HUGE HIT at dinner that evening, and something we will definitely be doing again soon.