Thursday, November 3, 2011

eggplant parmesan

The first time my parents (and I think my brother) met Nathan, he came out to Long Island and he and Matt and I went out to a medieval festival in Port Washington. We tried on chain mail head pieces and watched some cool jousting and a Maypole and then there was a fight for the crown and the queen was abducted and there was a siege of the castle with flaming arrows and oh my god what was I talking about?

Gosh that was awesome. We went back the next year and it was pretty much exactly the same, so much of the novelty had worn off, but that first year was pretty magical. And how about that first dinner with Nathan and my family?

Before the medieval fair, my dad and I woke up early and thinly sliced a bunch of eggplant, salted it and layered it between sheets of paper towels. Then we stacked some heavy books on top and let gravity do the work, pressing out the water. If you haven't guessed already, we made some delicious eggplant parmigiana.

The most time consuming part is the breading and frying. It's just dredged in egg and flour, but when you fry each piece in olive oil over medium heat, it takes awhile.

While you are pressing the eggplant, you can make the sauce. I like to start with an olive oil garlic base and then add tomatoes and a little salt and pepper. Fresh parsley and basil go in at the end. (A simple, light, fresh sauce really helps keep this dish from being too rich with all the cheese and fried-ness.) While the sauce is cooking slice up some mozzarella cheese.

By the time you finish frying the eggplant, you are ready to assemble your parm, which is a pretty straightforward process. Eggplant, sauce, cheese, grated cheese, repeat. Then you bake it in the oven for a half hour or so for a delicious melty Italian American classic.

Now doesn't that look good? I love eggplant parmigiana, and I love making it with my dad. It's such a satisfying dinner, and it's definitely a favorite of mine. (Although not so much of a favorite as eggplant rollatini, which I make with my mom, but not in years which should be rectified.) Luckily, Nathan loved it too, or he probably wouldn't have made it past the initial meet the parents stage. This summer, he wasn't around to dig into this eggplant deliciousness, but it was still a pleasure to cook with my dad, and mom and Matt were obviously thrilled to share in this awesome meal.

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