Today I’m going semi-vegetarian. My godfather’s family came from Naples. His mother liked me and thought I had potential as an Italian cook. She taught me Sunday gravy or red sauce. It was complicated and took all day but it was worth it. The thing she made for me and taught me that I loved most was her take on eggplant parmigiana. It isn’t breaded , deep fried and smothered in sauce and goopy cheese. It’s simple and tastes good. You can rig the recipe to fit your needs. This is what I used and how I made it today:
Eggplant, I used one that weighed in at two pounds. The smaller ones were near $4 a pound. The large ones wer$1.99. It’s a no brainer.
Roma tomatoes, I bought eight each about four inches tall and maybe three inches around the bottom.
Garlic, as much as you can stand. Eggplant is served in tomato and stew=like environs because it hasn’t got a lot of flavor of its own,
Pine nuts, a small bottle.
Dried oregano, basil to taste
Anchovies, my call. I’ll explain at the end.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you want peel the tomatoes, I didn’t I’m lazy and have done too many times. Anyway I need the fiber and my godfather’s mother didn’t. Cut them in half length-wise. Roast them in the oven until almost burned, about twenty minutes. Take them out and let them cool. I roasted in my go-to pans, disposable aluminum cake pans with a light coat of olive oil. Now, the eggplant, there is a school of thought that says you have to salt the eggplant to leech out the bitterness. I don’t think so. As bland as it is you have to leave its own taste. Don’t peel it. It’ll lose structure. Slice it into about half inch slices. Coat a sheet pan with olive oil. Lay the slice out on the pan and turn it over so it’s got oil on both sides. Chop the cooled tomatoes. Drain through a strainer to get rid of extra liquid. Mix in chopped garlic, olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper. Spread over the eggplant, add the pine nuts. Cook in the 400 degree oven checking every ten minutes or so. My oven isn’t all that trusty so baked items are checked often. You’ll know it’s done when it looks a bit dry. Sprinkle with grated cheese, not the sawdust you get in a bottle, spring for a small piece of parm or romano if you’re going to serve it out of the oven.
If you let it cool, t’s good as a sandwich with mozzarella on a hoagie roll. Or on rye. The anchovies, I watched a NYT video by Melissa Clarke on Anchovies 101. I’m one of those people who use them in red sauce and on pizza. Actually, I like them so before I tossed the tomatoes on the eggplant I added about three anchovies to them. I say about because the bottle in the refrigerator is packed in olive oil and it was pretty much congealed.
Try it out. Enjoy.