Monday, September 19, 2011
Holy cow. How good does that look?!? Sometimes I totally surprise myself. Thank you Melissa Clark. Thank you The New York Times. Thank you random folder of recipes that I keep even after the invention of this thing called the web. This recipe is delish.
I've been feeling super lame because I haven't been blogging regularly (get ready because that is going to change!) so this past weekend I decided that I wanted to make something simple yet seasonal and I think I hit the nail on the head with this deconstructed eggplant parm by Melissa Clark. It's fresh and flavorful and you don't have to bake it in the oven! There are more steps than I normally endorse, so takes awhile (2 hours if you are talking on the phone at the same time) but it's worth it! You cook the eggplant, cook the sauce, brown the bread crumbs, assemble, and voila...a gorgeous veggie starter.
Eggplant Parmesan Assemblage
1 large eggplant sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
Black pepper to taste
About 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
5 garlic cloves
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 sprigs fresh oregano
3 sprigs fresh basil, plus 5 large leaves
5 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup ricotta
2 ounces fresh mozzarella
1. Place the eggplant slices in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 20 minutes. Drain and pat the slices dry with a paper towel. Season with pepper.
2. Working in batches, heat some of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (you will need about 1/2 cup total for frying, less with a nonstick pan). Add as much eggplant to the skillet as fits comfortably in a single layer. Cook, without moving, until the undersides are dark golden, about 4 minutes; flip and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer the eggplant to a platter. Repeat with the remaining oil and eggplant.
3. Let the skillet cool for a few minutes. Return it to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of the oil. Smash and peel 4 garlic cloves and add them to the skillet. Cook until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and oregano. Cook, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spatula, until the tomatoes start to form a sauce, 15 minutes. Add the basil sprigs and 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Simmer 5 minutes longer.
4. While the sauce simmers, in a small skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Mince 1 garlic clove and add it to the skillet with the bread crumbs. Toast, stirring, until the bread crumbs are just golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the 1 remaining tablespoon of Parmesan and a pinch of salt.
5. Arrange the eggplant on a large platter. Spoon dollops of the ricotta over the eggplant and top with the sauce. Scatter the bread crumbs over the sauce. Top with the mozzarella and garnish with torn basil leaves. Drizzle with more oil and serve. Makes 6 to 8 side dish or appetizer servings.