Jocelyn came for a surprise birthday visit this past weekend (my birthday, not hers) and it was awesome. On Sunday we decided to take advantage of the serious eggplant bounty at the farmers market and make an eggplant parmesan. Actually, it turned out that this week at the Morningside Farmers Market there was very little else available other than okra, peppers and eggplants. I think we got there a little bit late, but still! I was hoping for some tomatoes. But no one had anything besides okra, peppers and eggplant. So that's what I ended up getting.
Eggplant parmesan takes a long time to put together but all the steps are simple and the end product is totally worth it. We used 3 different eggplants--one light purple one from Aviva's mom's garden, and two from Morningside: one dark purple and one stripy. Cut them up into thin slices of no more than 1/4" in thickness.Dredge the slices in a mixture of fine bread crumbs, cornmeal, salt and pepper......then sauté them in batches in a few tablespoons of olive oil. You'll likely have to add more olive oil to the pan as you go along. The slices should turn a golden brown in a few minutes over medium-high heat; flip them over to brown the other side, then remove to a plate to drain on paper towels. Get all the slices done then set aside until you are ready to assemble the whole dish.Meanwhile, make (or have already made) a simple red sauce. I usually do this as follows: mince one onion and sauté in olive oil until golden, add 2 cloves minced garlic, sauté another 1 minute, then add in a 28 ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes. Add salt and pepper, mash up the tomatoes and let it all simmer for 10 minutes, then add in a drizzle of the red wine you're drinking anyway. This time I also added fresh basil because I have so much of it right now.So, to assemble the eggplant parmesan, start by spooning a small amount of red sauce in the bottom of an attractive baking dish.Make a layer of sautéed eggplant slices over the red sauce......then layer some torn fresh basil leaves over the eggplant.Now make a nice cover of cheese over the basil and eggplant. I used sliced fresh mozzarella and fresh grated parmesan.Repeat these layers--tomato sauce, eggplant, basil, cheese--until your eggplant is gone or you run out of cheese or someone makes you knock it off. I made 3 layers I think.Stick it in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. It should be all gooey and delicious looking when you haul it out.