Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

If you are familiar with the movie Ratatouille, Baked Eggplant Parmesan is a reminiscent of a dish prepared by Remy  for  food critic Anton Ego.  My son requested me to cook this again when I mentioned that I did this already 6 years ago. He did not taste it then because he does not like it. The sight of the layered eggplant, tomatoes and cheese is not appealing to him yet. Now that his palate is a little more adventurous (he eats the mushrooms and olives already from the pizza), he ask me to cook it again. True enough, he tasted it and said that it is delicious.

Ratatouille is a peasant dish traditionally stewed or sauteed with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and peppers. It is usually serve as a side dish and sometimes it is serve as a meal accompanied by bread, pasta or rice  It is typically prepared by sauteing each vegetables separately before being layered into a baking dish and baked. It is popular among the entire Mediterranean coast as a summer dish.

The recipe below is a simple variation of Ratatouille. 

In order to make this dish light and soft, the eggplant was sliced in uniform thickness. Mandoline slicer is a good tool for this purpose (picture below).  Since I don't have Mandoline, I patiently use a knife to cut the eggplant lenghtwise as thinly as I can.

Mandoline Slicer
                                                           
                                                                                                                                                         

Arrange the eggplant neatly on a tray, sprinkle with fine salt to sweat out the bitter juice, then blot the eggplant with paper towels before frying . This way, it will not absorb a lot of oil when frying. Fry the eggplant until soft and golden in color but not crispy.





Remove the juice from the tomatoes in can, but if you do need it, simmer the tomatoes under low fire until sauce thickens so that the dish is not watery. I use 1 can 240g only, you may add according to your preference.



Baked Eggplant Parmesan
(good for 7 inches square baking dish)

3 pcs. medium size eggplant, slice lengthwise
vegetable oil for frying 
1 - 240g.  whole tomatoes in can  (preferably Italian brand)
3 tbsp. extra virgin oil
1 medium onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
100 g. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
30 g.Parmesan cheese, grated.

To prepare the eggplant. Cut the eggplant thinly lengthwise. Arrange neatly on a tray and sprinkle fine salt to let out the bitter juice. Blot with paper towel. Pan fry with vegetable oil until soft and lightly brown in color. Set aside.

To prepare the tomatoes.  Puree tomatoes in a food processor. In a pan, heat extra virgin olive oil under low heat. Put in onion, stir-fry until translucent. Add in the pureed tomatoes and simmer until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

To layer the dish.  In a glass or ceramic baking dish, spread tomato sauce at the bottom, then put in three layers of fried eggplant and one layer on the sides. Cover lightly with tomato sauce, sliced mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese. Continue layering alternately with tomato sauce, eggplant and cheese. Finish the dish with tomato sauce and cheeses.

To bake. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F / 180 C for 30 - 45 minutes. Let cool before serving.









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