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Classic Update: Eggplant Parmigiana

Classic Eggplant Parmigiana

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by Laura Giannatempo and Mickey Price
from Fine Cooking #100, pp. 76-79

If you think you know eggplant parmigiana, think again. Fine Cooking associate editor and Italian native Laura Giannatempo gave us the definitive classic—a surprisingly lighter dish than most Americans are used to, since it skips the expected breading of the eggplant. Mikey Price, chef at New York’s seasonally driven Market Table, contributed the competition: an addictive first course that features breadcrumb-coated zucchini ribbons rolled around an eggplant filling. It’s going to be one tasty showdown. Vote for your favorite.

The classic

The classic
  The classic
   
The update
  The update

It’s commonly believed that eggplant parmigiana originated in southern Italy (Naples, to be precise), where eggplant is widely cultivated. There is no breading in this parmigiana. Like in Italy, the eggplant slices are fried quickly in hot olive oil. The eggplant is peeled and cut into thin slices, which creates slender, delicate layers for a lighter, more elegant dish. Parmigiano-Reggiano is a key ingredient (it gives the dish its name after all). Made around Parma from raw cow’s milk, it’s a rich, hard cheese that’s aged for at least 12 months.


The update

For this recipe, eggplant parmigiana meets fried zucchini in an all-Italian celebration of the harvest season. Instead of layers, thin zucchini ribbons create the perfect wrap. It’s inside the roll where eggplant marries with tomato sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano to create the essence of eggplant parmigiana. Toasted pine nuts mixed with the eggplant filling and sprinkled on top add a welcome textural variation.

Photos: Scott Phillips

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  • dollibygolly | 09/26/2009

    Could I please just get the update recipe? I loaned my magazine and it hasn't been returned yet! Good lesson there!
    Thank you so much.

  • decooker | 08/23/2009

    I have made the classic dish twice. While I have not followed the recipe completely; i.e. I have cut back significantly on the olive oil for frying and used less mozzarella cheese, I have followed the remainder of the instructions.
    I found the eggplant dish very tasty. With using less oil, but still using the correct times, the eggplant kept a solid consistency. All of this being said, it is a very time consuming recipe to complete with having to fry the individual slices of eggplant.
    Therefore, I would love to have instructions from neneca (Aug 21) re: how she roasted her eggplant. Roasting sounds like the perfect way to prepare the eggplant. I assume she would have used a little oil on the slices; but what was the temperature and time?

  • neneca | 08/21/2009

    I'm Brazilian and we have a huge Italian influence here. Eggplant Parmigiana is a favorite here although somewhat different than the present recipe. Breaded slices are fried in olive oil and mozzarela cheeese is used, alternating with tomato sauce. Parmigiano-Reggiano is added only on the top layer. I personally never fry the slices but roast them (unbreaded of course) and follow the steps above.
    Perhaps several recipes originated on different Italian villages or the availability of produce defined a given trend.

  • suvy | 08/21/2009

    The oil must be smokey hot preferably NOT a good virgin olive oil.Previously, the eggplant slices should have been sprinkled with salt and allowed to sit, layered set into a colander and pressed down with a plate with something heavy over. After about 40 min., rinse, squeeze each one or set onto a clean towel & pat to dry.Sprinkle with flour, & then when you fry them they will NOT absorb oil.

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