Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Eggplant Parmesan

The other day, I happened upon some eggplants at the farmers’ market. There were three different varieties all sitting next to each other looking quite fetching. The grower told me that the lighter colored ones were milder in flavor. I couldn’t decide between dark purple, light purple, and striped, so I bought some of each. My plan was to make a big pan of eggplant parmesan, and I turned to the authority on Italian cuisine, Marcella Hazan, for a recipe. There was an article about her and her husband in the New York Times last week, and a book of her memoirs, Amarcord: Marcella Remembers, will be available in October. I’m looking forward to reading it.

In Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, she wrote that eggplant parmesan, although often thought to be an Italian-American creation, is in fact made in many Italian homes. She describes the process of steeping slices of eggplant with salt and draining them in a colander. Once pressed dry, the slices are dredged in just flour and fried. Her sauce is a very simple one with tomato and basil. The fried eggplant, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and an excellent, grated parmigiana reggiano are layered in a pan and then baked.

I had become accustomed to seeing eggplant slices dredged with flour, dipped in egg, then coated with breadcrumbs and fried for eggplant parmesan. That’s a delicious way to bread and fry just about anything. So, I thought a mere walk through flour might be lacking somehow. Actually, it was perfect. The eggplant tasted like eggplant, which is admittedly not a bold flavor, but it was clearer than it would have been with a heavier breading. The simple tomato sauce with fresh basil was also just right. I didn’t measure the cheese very carefully and probably used more than I was supposed to, but I’m like that with cheese. In the end, it was easily the best eggplant parmesan I have tasted. So, once again, simpler was better and trusting an expert like Marcella Hazan is always a good idea.


  1. Lisa,
    Found you on blogroll today.
    Your eggplant parm looks fabulous!
    As good as New Jersey Italians make here!
    I just made 2 eggplant dishes, it is my FAVORITE food! (fried, of course!).
    Great blog! I will check back often.
    Stacey Snacks

  2. Hi Lisa,
    I've updated my brown cheese post with the information you were wondering about! It's quite a unique product, definitely try it if you have the chance!

  3. Lisa, this looks so delicious! In fact all your food here in your blog looks great! Yummy, I'll be back often!

  4. That looks awesome. I looked with dread at the HUGE eggplant that came in our CSA box last night. I think I'll try this though.

  5. I think yours is one of the best versions I've seen ... just look at that cheese!

  6. This looks great. The pictures are beautiful.

  7. Here from Marths Stewart's blog. This looks so good. I've never made it, but I've been wanting to. Definitely will now.

  8. ooh la la! what a tremendous rendition of one of my favorite italian treats! seriously, very nicely done--it looks more appetizing than any i've ever been served in a restaurant. :)

  9. Thanks everyone! I can now report that it's great as leftovers too.

  10. YUM. I don't even like eggplant usually, and I *want* this right now!

  11. Hey Lisa,
    I just want to say that those are the most beautiful photos of Eggplant Parmesan that I've ever seen! Especially because the dish is generally so unphotogenic (well, maybe that's cooked eggplants in general). I'm also intrigued by your use of Marcella Hazan, as my partner just got her cookbook for his birthday (he's a big Julia Child fan, so I figured we'd take that thought just transition over to Italian). Anyways. If you don't mind, I'd like to use one of your photos in my blog post on Eggplant Parmesan, with full credit and links to your blog of course. It's already posted on, but I can take your photos off if you object.

    So happy to have discovered you, will be checking out the rest of your blog!


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