Friday, October 17, 2014

Parmigiana Bianca ("White" Parmigiana)


    I think I've shared my love of eggplant before.  Besides being hearty and delicious, you can do so many different things with it!  And....because I love it, it makes a pretty regular appearance on our dinner table in various forms.  Two of my favorites are Eggplant Parmesan Stacks and Caponata.  You definitely will want to give those recipes a try!

    All over southern Italy, the name "parmigiana" refers to a dish of vegetables layered with tomato sauce and cheese and baked in the oven.  Now, for those of you who have an aversion to the "red sauce", typically used in these dishes, this is the recipe for you!  It has no tomatoes, but all the meaty eggplant and gooey cheese you'd expect from an eggplant parmesan! Serve it with a nice salad and a crusty loaf of bread and you've got a great dinner!  Or, it would also make a nice vegetable side dish to serve alongside some grilled meat.

    It's amazing how you can take a handful of ingredients and make something so yummy and satisfying!  So....let's do it!

    This is what you'll need:


*Note:  I doubled the recipe, so the amounts shown in the pictures reflect that.

Parmigiana Bianca ("White" Parmigiana)

1 pound eggplant (the fat, round variety)
Coarse Sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
About 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely minced Italian parsley and fresh basil

The first thing to do is slice the eggplant about 1/4" thick and stack the slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with some salt.  Then weigh down the layers and allow the eggplant to drain for at least 30 minutes.  This will allow moisture to be drawn out of the eggplant, along with any bitterness that might be contained in the seeds.  This is a rather controversial step.  It can be most helpful if you are using older, larger eggplant with many dark seeds, but really isn't necessary with smaller, younger ones.  Some cooks always do this and some cooks think it totally unnecessary.  Sometimes I salt and sweat the eggplant......sometimes I don't.  So, do according to your preference.

If you've salted the eggplant, you'll want to rinse off the slices to get rid of the salt and, then, dry them with paper towels.  

This next part of the recipe also offers you a choice.  You can either cook the slices on a grill (outdoor or stove top), preheated to medium, for about 2 minutes per side or bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through, til brown on both sides.  With either method, I brush both sides of the slices with extra-virgin olive oil prior to cooking.

This time I chose to bake them on parchment-lined sheets. 

Before:


After:


Now, gather together all of the other ingredients and grease the bottom and sides of a 1 1/2 qt. baking dish with about 1 tblsp. of the olive oil. (The dish should be deep enough to hold at least 2 layers of eggplant and cheese.)  Sprinkle about a tblsp. of the breadcrumbs over the bottom of the dish.

Line the bottom of the dish with some of the eggplant slices and then top with some of the mozzarella.

Sprinkle some breadcrumbs, grated cheese, a little salt, pepper, and the fresh herbs over the top.

Continue layering until you've used all the ingredients, ending with a layer of bread crumbs, grated cheese, and herbs. Drizzle the top with a tblsp. or so of olive oil.

  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the top is brown and crisp and the cheese is bubbling. 



Let sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.  Now.......just enjoy this delicious "Parmigiana"!



For printable recipe click here.


Recipe from "Cucina Del Sole" by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

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