Tuscan Eggplant Parmigiana
In The Italian Kitchen, acclaimed chef and cookbook author Marco Canora teaches viewers to cook classic Italian dishes.
Marco starts off by sharing the most essential ingredient in this recipe: a good quality Italian eggplant. This smaller variety of the vegetable has fewer seeds, which tend to be bitter. And while eggplant's skin is colorful, it can also be bitter and tough, so Marco creates "racing stripes" by peeling off 50 percent of the skin in strips, giving the dish some color but keeping bitterness in check. He then cuts the eggplant into approximately 1/2-inch rounds and pan-fries them until they're lightly browned, about a minute on each side. (Be sure that your oil is hot before you add the slices, and don't overcrowd the pan.) Once he can easily poke the tines of a fork through the center of each slice, he removes the slices from the pan, blots them on a paper towel and seasons them with salt. He repeats this process until all of the slices are cooked.
Next, Marco layers a casserole dish with his ingredients, starting with whole canned tomatoes, which he has broken up into smaller pieces using his hands. Then he adds torn basil, a sprinkle of oregano, a little bit of salt and pepper, extra virgin olive oil and the first layer of overlapping eggplant slices. In his second layer, Marco adds the above ingredients, plus thinly sliced garlic and both fresh mozzarella and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. He repeats these steps until the pan is filled with five or six layers, and then Marco pops the dish in a 350 degree oven. An eggplant Parmesan in his deeper casserole dish takes 35 to 40 minutes to cook, but if you're using a wider, more shallow pan, you will probably only need to bake the dish for 10 to 15 minutes. Before serving, he adds additional shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
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