I still haven’t gotten over my trip to Italy this summer. While decorating my Christmas tree, I was thinking about the differences between “Americanized” Italian food and the food in Italy. Tonight I felt like something Italian and comforting. Eggplant parmesan sounded good, and it happens to be red and green. Hello…. Christmas colors! While taking a cooking class in Rome, a Roman Chef taught me how to make the perfect pomodoro sauce. You have to make this sauce. It is absolutely perfect.
Servings- 4 to 8
Ingredients for Pomodoro
2 28 ounce Whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano), 2 shallots halved, 3 cloves of garlic smashed, 4 leaves of fresh basil, handful of thyme bundled with twine and 1 tsp of kosher or sea salt.
Ingredients for breading of Eggplant
8 ounces Italian Panko breadcrumbs, 5 eggs, 1 cup of flour, 2 eggplants sliced into 16 slices no larger than 1/2 inch thick, 1.5 L Extra light olive oil, parsley, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, 1-6 oz package of shredded mozzarella cheese and salt.
Preparation of Pomodoro
Blend whole peeled tomatoes until desired consistency. Add tomatoes to sauce pot and add shallots, garlic, basil, thyme and salt. Bring to a low boil and add lid then bring down to a low simmer. Simmer for 40 minutes with lid on then take lid off for last 20 minutes for a thicker sauce. The Chef in Rome said, “You Americans like chopped onions and garlic in your sauce.” The Italians like the flavor the onions and garlic impart but don’t like it in the sauce. They leave things almost whole so they can fish them out when the sauce is ready. It’s easier to make and actually tastes better. Life changing!
Preparation of Eggplant
Pre-heat oven to 4oo degrees. Place olive oil in pot and bring to 350-365 degrees. Slice eggplant into 16 slices with skin on. Prepare breading station by placing the flour in a platter with 1/2 tsp of salt. The 5 eggs should be mixed and in its own platter. The breadcrumbs in it’s own platter with 1/2 tsp of salt and some parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
When oil is between 350-365 degrees gently add breaded eggplant into olive oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Set eggplant on a raised metal rack so eggplant doesn’t sit in oil.
I like to assemble the eggplant layered like a lasagna in its own dish. Start with sauce then eggplant, mozzarella cheese, parmigiana-reggiano cheese and repeat. The last layer add some fresh parsley and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling.
This can be layered in a larger pyrex like a lasagna if desired. Enjoy!