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.
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.
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