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Classic Update: Eggplant Parmigiana

Classic Eggplant Parmigiana

Classic Eggplant Parmigiana

  • Classic Eggplant Parmigiana
  • Eggplant Parmigiana Rollups
  • Classic Eggplant Parmigiana

By Fine Cooking Editors, editor

July 8th, 2009

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

posted in: Blogs, classic/classic update, eggplant, eggplant parmigiana
Comments (10)

colleenob writes: I've made the recipe twice. However, I don't like to fry anything, so broiled the eggplant after dusting it with a bit of salt, and Italian herbs, and spraying it with olive oil. I also left strips of skin on the eggplant for more intense eggplant flavor. I used fire roasted diced tomatoes to further intensify the flavor. The result is as good as any I've eaten anywhere. thank you. Posted: 3:21 pm on June 5th

dollibygolly writes: 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. Posted: 8:39 pm on September 25th

mmmedof writes: Just a suggestion to cut down on cholestrol & fat> use an egg substitute instead of whole eggs & saute--using olive-oil cooking spray in a Teflon-lined pan. Works well for the eggplant slices. They come out almost as crispy and taste quite good. I usually pre-salt eggplant (to remove/leech bitterness)and place on a cake rack for the excess moisture to drain; then blot and wipe dry. The salt does NOT permeate the eggplant. This is a bit time-consuming, but worth the effort if you have the time. Posted: 5:24 pm on September 7th

decooker writes: 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?

Posted: 7:43 am on August 23rd

neneca writes: 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. Posted: 10:59 am on August 21st

suvy writes: 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. Posted: 10:23 am on August 21st

kathleenjansen writes: I prefer not to bread and fry my eggplant. I slice and roast it, top with fresh basil, fresh mozz and some good marinara along with parmesan then bake...ummm Posted: 4:26 pm on August 20th

RavingBelgian writes: I don't have anything against fats in a meal, but the "update"recipe seems to go to quite an extreme. I guess that when everything's fried at high heat, it may still be palatable, but in most people's hands (including mine, I'm afraid), this will become a greasy mush. I'll go for the classic version I guess. Posted: 2:36 pm on August 20th

anitak writes: I followed the recipe to the letter. The taste was good, but the eggplant was way overcooked and greasy. When I tried to press out the oil, the eggplant turned to mush. Next time, I'll go back to making it with slightly thicker pieces of breaded eggplant. Posted: 11:51 am on July 29th

Pooky24 writes: I made this Sunday and nearly ate the whole (1/2 recipe) myself. And I don't like eggplant typically. This was so good. I put it together and while my outdoor grill was still at 300 I "baked" it on the grill. It was wonderful. I will make this again and again. I added some portabellos and thin sliced onion to mine. Posted: 10:21 pm on July 20th

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