Friday, April 15, 2011

Mini Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is good.  Mini things are cute.  Mini eggplant parmesan is good and cute. 
Lately, when I've been making eggplant parm, I broil the eggplant slices.  It's healthier.  In cooking class in Italy, I learned to make eggplant by lightly dredging in flour and quickly frying.  So, today, I cooked eggplant the classic way, and it was great.

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
3-4 small eggplants, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
kosher salt
canola or vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups simple tomato sauce (recipe below)
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

I like to peel stripes in eggplants before cooking.  The skin helps the eggplant stay together, but it can be tough.  When you peel in stripes, you get the best of both worlds, and it looks nice.

Slice the eggplant and put slices in a colander.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit for at least an hour.  The salt draws the water out of the eggplant, and helps prevent a soggy dish.
Here they are sprinkled with salt.
And then an hour or so later, you can see all the water that's been pulled out.

To make the tomato sauce:
In a medium saucepan, heat a couple teaspoons olive oil over medium low. 
Add 1-2 small cloves of garlic, and cook a few minutes until fragrant.
Add in basil and oregano (fresh if you have it, dried if you don't).
Add in 14 oz. crushed tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a large saute or frying pan, heat about a 1/4 inch oil over medium high heat.  You want to fry very quickly just to create a crispy crust on the eggplant.  The longer you fry, the more oil it will absorb, and greasy eggplant is not good.  Lightly dredge the eggplant slices in flour and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side.  If it's taking longer, raise the heat.  Be careful when putting the eggplant into the oil, because oil can pop out of the pan.  It burns.  And then you'll be there wishing you hadn't stuck your arm over the pan.
When the eggplant is cooked, it will be a nice brown color and have a slightly crispy crust.  I ate about 5 of these little rounds just to make sure they were good. They were.

Spread a little sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  This prevents the eggplant from sticking.

Put a layer of eggplant slices on the bottom, I fit 12.  Add a teaspoon of sauce and a slice of mozzarella.

Repeat layers as high as it stands up, I fit four before they started to lean precariously.  Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12 minutes.


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