This is one of my all time favourite dishes. A recipe I got from my mom, this is the perfect warm homey meal for a cool evening, with a glass of red. Adding other vegetables like zucchini and mushrooms would be great too. I really recommend fresh basil for the final product, as with the pizza. Fresh herbs will always add a whole new dimension to the dish like nothing else can. I love how parmigiana is so quick and easy while not appearing so.
What You'll Need
THE BREADING MIX
~1 cup spelt flour
~1/2 tsp salt
~1/4 tsp pepper
3 tsp dry or fresh oregano (or Italian herb mix)
2 tsp dry basil (if not using Italian herb mix)
1 large eggplant
~1.5 740ml containers of good tomato sauce
1/2 cup milk
~1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
~1/2 ball of mozzarella
By good tomato sauce I mean home-made. If you don't have access to this (as most I would probably not) find some high quality sauce at the store with minimal ingredients and no added favours etc. I really like Cucina antica. The amount of tomato sauce you choose to use is arbitrary, some prefer a parm more on the wet side or dry side. I.5 containers will be wet as I prefer it to be.
The breading is much easier and more flavourful if you use store bough breadcrumbs (such as Pastene, Aurora, Progresso etc.) I make my own so that I know everything that is going in it but it is not necessary.
Start by slicing the entire eggplant into thin slices. Try to make them all the same thickness so that everything cooks together nicely and you don't end up with random chewy bits. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the
Beat the eggs in a bowl with the milk and a bit of salt. Combine the breading ingredients on a plate (or pour ~1 cup of store bought bread crumbs on a plate) and shake the plate to create a flat surface of breading to coat the eggplant sides evenly. You can keep shaking the plate as you bread more slices to keep the breading surface even.
Now heat a large flat frying pan with grapeseed/avocado oil. Submerge the first couple of eggplant slices in the egg fully, then coat with the breading on both sides and add to the pan once the oil is hot. Lower the heat to medium and continue to add more slices to fry. Try to remember which you put on first so nothing burns. Like pancakes, you want both sides golden brown. You can do the same thing in the oven (pictured below) instead of frying by coating baking trays with a generous amount of oil, and baking the slices at 350ºF- flipping them over once one side is nicely cooked. Both options are essentially frying but I prefer frying on the stovetop because I can see which ones are ready right away. If you have to go and do something in the meantime (as my mother would always do) the oven option is much more efficient. The slices pictured below are ready to go in the oven.
As the slices are cooking, grate the cheese. For those of you who buy pre-grated parmesan, I dare you to try grating the fresh blocks yourself, my guess is you will never go back.
As the slices finish cooking a few at a time, lay them between sheets of paper towel to soak up any excess oil. And now for the really fun part!
Use a deep baking dish (like you would use for lasagna or shepherds pie). Cover the bottom of the dish with a nice layer of sauce, and lay the slices on top of the sauce. I like to keep the slices very closely packed but never directly on top of each other. I put broken eggplant slices inbetween the large circles so that each layer is consistent. Sprinkle some cheese on top of the slices and spread tomato sauce over the cheese- spreading it evenly with a spoon. On top of the tomato sauce goes eggplant slices again and so forth. This layering is much more successful is the eggplant layer does not have too many gaps which is why I pack them close together.
As you can see I got lazy with grating the mozzarella. Because this cheese melts really well you can break it into small chunks for the top. The top should be the layer with the most cheese. Bake in the oven at 400ºF for ~40 minutes, then broil the top for a couple of minutes to make the cheese golden brown. Be careful not to burn it when broiling! After hitting golden brown it will burn in several seconds.
Let it cool for a bit before cutting up and serving. Serve with fresh basil & enjoy!