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Eggplant Parmesan

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  • Eggplant Parmesan

    It's an old classic, but it works great in a brick oven. You can brown the eggplant easily, then assemble the casserole cold and bring it up to heat in the oven.

    I used the San Marzano tomatoes we sell, the olive oil we sell, plus imported Pecorino and Parmesan and fresh basil. It was great. The older I get, the more I am struck by how much the basic ingredient matter for taste. I used to think you could hide various so-so things, like tomatoes, oil, etc. -- but you really see it when you use the nice stuff and the dish tastes great.

    I read an article that said Eggplant Parmesan actually came from Naples originally (it's the tomatoes), and that you can make it with Mozzarella, Pecorina, Scamorza and other more local cheeses -- and that the Parmesan part is a relatively recent invention. Funny. Naples and Parma are hundreds of miles of culinary heritage apart.

    The best Eggplant Paremsan we ever had was in Sorrento. This is a true story. It was spring break, but freezing cold and the heat was off in B&B we were staying in. We plugged in an electric space heater, which blew the breaker for the whole block. No heat, no light, no oven and no food. Hanging out on the street, we met our neighbors, who were incredibly nice, and ended up giving us half of their dinner, which was eggplant parmesan and easter bread. We couldn't convince them to not share their food. Eventually the lights came back on and the dinner was great. I am always trying to make something as good as our neighbors.

    One eggplant, cut into 1/4" slices, salted to drain and rinsed
    3-4 TBL EVO
    1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
    1/2 cup grated Percorino
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil

    Brush the eggplant with EVO and bake until brown in either a flat pan or grill pan/steel or cast iron. You don't have to flip it.

    Layer the eggplant, tomatoes, cheese and basil until it's gone. Save a little sauce for the top. Top with the Parmesan. If your oven is hot, cover it with foil until the last few minutes.

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