A light and delicate take on eggplant parmesan for summer suppers. This is worlds away from your typical casserole, nothing like those bricks of heavy breaded eggplant.
This concept comes from Deborah Madison, who layers broiled eggplant slices with basil leaves, fresh mozzarella, and a light tomato sauce. I typically make this with slices of regular globe eggplants, but my local Arab market is currently selling tiny baby eggplants, truly as small as eggs. I thought I’d throw a version of this together with these baby eggplants. It turned out to be one of the cutest baked dishes.
The photos document my baby eggplant version, but the instructions cover both versions.
Deborah Madison’s Summer Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
1.5 pounds eggplant
tomato sauce (I like to use Marcella Hazan’s sauce, but feel free to use another fresh tomato sauce recipe)
4 ounces fresh mozzarella (I have also had good results with goat cheese)
I usually start the assembly by starting to simmer the tomato sauce.
Trim the stems and slice the baby eggplants in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt and let stand 30 minutes. Then blot dry with a paper towel. I confess that I forgot this step. I remembered when I bit into one, and it was slightly bitter. The salting step removes the bitterness.
Fry the baby eggplant halves in a skillet on each side until golden, and soft when poked with a fork. Season lightly with salt and pepper. When I use the globe eggplants, I broil the slices in the oven, but since the baby eggplant slices were thicker, I guessed they would cook slowly and more evenly in a skillet.
If you are using globe eggplants, slice them into rounds 1/3 inch thick. Salt and blot them, as described above. Brush each with olive oil, and broil in the oven. Let them broil 5-6 minutes per side, until golden brown and soft. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
At this point, I finish my tomato sauce, removing the onions, whirring it with a stick blender. For this dish, I also add a handful of torn basil leaves to the sauce at the very end.
For assembly, coat the bottom of your baking dish with tomato sauce. Arrange the baby eggplant halves. Top each with a slice of fresh mozzarella, a small basil leaf on each, then another eggplant-half to create a sort of sandwich.
Gently top each “eggplant-sandwich” with tomato sauce to lightly cover, then about a teaspoon each of grated Parmesan.
If you were using globe eggplant slices, you would overlap the slices in a layer, and proceed in the same assembly order.
Bake in a 375F oven for 25-35 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.