Eggplant Parmesan (version XIX)

2 eggplants, 1 pound each
salt for leaching
2 eggs, beaten, optional
flour for coating
oil for frying
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
28 ounces crushed peeled plum tomatoes
4 basil leaves (1 fresh sprig, or use 1/2 tablespoon dried)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup dry white breadcrumbs

Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch slices. Salt each slice well on both sides. Let sit 30 minutes. Rinse and squeeze dry.

Season flour with pepper. Coat slices with egg and then dredge in seasoned flour (egg may be omitted). Deep-fry at 360-370 until golden.

Meanwhile, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil . Add tomatoes and basil and simmer 15 minutes. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Spread the bottom of a large casserole or baking dish with sauce. Layer eggplant, sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan; continue until all are used up. Save a little sauce for the top. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Cool and refrigerate covered overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake again at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

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