The Baking Project...Eggplant Parmigiana

Robby told me that it was going to be MY evening to make dinner.  I attempted not to look exasperated or audibly sigh.  I just replied, "OK" (in a cheerful sort of voice...) as I also remembered at that point that I would have to make the dreaded trip to the grocery store...

Robby had not forgotten that I would have to make that trip to the grocery store and I could hear the smile in his voice over the telephone.  I'm sorry, but I just don't like to grocery shop; I consider it a necessary evil.  Robby LOVES to cook (and it shows, because his food is GOOD...), so grocery shopping doesn't bother him as much as it does me.  Well, I resigned myself to the fact that if I was going to put a meal on the table that evening, I was going to have to purchase the ingredients. 

Remember now, that I DO like cookbooks (I KNOW...crazy!), so I began to search through some of my cookbooks for a recipe that I thought I "might" be able to prepare.  The prerequisites for this task would include understanding all of the preparation and cooking instructions, as well being able to identify all of the ingredients in the recipe.  I would go to my "favorite" type of food for this...Italian!

Everybody KNOW how much I LOVE Italy and EVERYTHING Italian.  But, I didn't want to just make pasta (although I would be quite satisfied with that choice...); I needed to show a little more imagination and effort in my choice of recipes.  That is why I decided on Eggplant Parmigiana!

I am vegetarian and Robby is not, so I wanted to prepare something that both of us would enjoy.  I pulled my "Sopranos Cookbook" out and thumbed to the index of recipes.  I knew what all of the ingredients were and the dish didn't look too difficult for me to prepare.  I drove down to the grocery store and purchased all the ingredients and got to work.



I could have chosen to just buy a jar of marinara sauce, but instead I used the recipe that was provided for a fresh marina:     "Marinara Sauce"
                                                    (Makes 3 cups)

                             2 large garlic cloves, lightly smashed
                             1/4 cup olive oil
                             2 pounds very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped,
                                or one 28-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped.
                             Salt
                             8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces


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In a large skillet  cook the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, pressing it occasionally with the back of a spoon, until golden, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and salt to taste.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is thick, 15-20 minutes, depending on the tomatoes.  Stir in the basil leaves.


The marinara sauce was very easy to prepare and WOW!  It was absolutely DELISH!
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Next, it was time to prepare the eggplant.  I LOVE eggplant prepared just about any way.  My grandmother and mother always sliced it and tossed it in lightly salted cornmeal, then popped it into some hot oil and fried it.  Such yummy comfort food!  The eggplant for this dish, however, was prepared a little differently, but it not only tasted wonderful, I learned a little more about the actual preparation of the eggplant, itself.

INGREDIENTS:     2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound)
                                 Salt
                                 Olive oil or vegetable oil for pan frying

After peeling the eggplants, slice them about 1/4 inch thick, lay the slices in colanders, sprinkling each layer with salt.  Let them sit there and drain for 30 minutes.  Afterwards, rinse the sliced eggplants off and pat dry.  Pour about 1/2 inch of oil into a large, deep skillet.  You will fry the slices of eggplants in single layers, turning once, until browned on both sides.  Drain on paper towels.

Next, you will begin to layer your ingredients for this DELICIOUS Italian dish:

Spread a thin layer of the marinara into a baking dish.  Next, make a layer of eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly.  Top with a layer of mozzarella, another layer of sauce, and a sprinkle of freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigano-Reggiano cheese.  Repeat the layering, ending with eggplant, sauce and grated cheese.  Bake for 45-60 minutes in a preheated 350 degrees oven, or until the sauce is bubbling and the mozzarella is melted.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I LOVE Italian food and this dish in particular.  Remember, I'm not much of a cook, but I was able to easily follow the recipe and my husband thought it was GREAT! (And he IS the cook around here...).  So, go ahead and give it a try yourself; you won't be disappointed!

BUON APPETITO!


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