i’ve always made eggplant parm in the same way. and it was always very good. i would grill the slices of eggplant and would make a delicious tomato sauce from scratch, then carefully layer the concoction and bake until bubbling.
recently, however, i attempted a new method and the results were amazing. the first alteration i made was to salt the eggplant to draw out the bitter liquids. i usually skipped this step because grilling was so time consuming. i have to say though, it was totally worth it! the eggplant was sweeter for the extra 10 minutes of patience. the second change was to par boil the eggplant instead of grilling it. not only does this result in a much healthier version of the dish, but the eggplant was softer in its final form and easier to manage during assembly. i really thought i’d miss the char-grilled flavor from before, but i honestly didn’t even notice it was gone. finally, i added a mixture of pork, veal, and beef to the tomato sauce. this really makes the dish sing, and was necessary for me due to the protein i need to intake every day for the p90x nutrition plan.
this is a more labor intensive dish than i usually make, but it’s well worth it and something that would be perfectly suited to a sunday dinner with the family.
a new eggplant parm
- 3 medium/large eggplants
- 1 pound blend of beef/veal/pork (or any ground meat)
- two 16 oz. jars store bought/homemade tomato sauce
- 6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- olive oil
heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. in the meantime, peel and slice the eggplants (about 1/4″ thick). lay all of the slices out and then heavily salt them. let them sit for about 10 minutes. you will notice little droplets of liquid form on the eggplant during this time. rinse them off and then add them to the boiling water. you will likely have to work in batches. you want to cook the eggplant for about 6 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. drain and set aside.
heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. add the meat and brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. you don’t want any large chunks of meat here, so be sure to break it up really well. drain off some of the fat (i just tilt the pan and use a large spoon here) or not, it’s up to you. add the tomato sauce and let it come to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and allow the flavors to come together for about 30 minutes.
preheat the oven to 375.
when all of the ingredients are ready smear a small amount of tomato sauce into a 9×13″ baking pan (there is no need to add oil here, the tomato sauce will do the trick). layer eggplant, then sauce, then cheese, and repeat until all of the ingredients are gone or the pan is completely full. be sure to top with a nice layer of cheese (it goes all brown and bubbly).
pop into the oven for 1 hour, and then remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes. enjoy!
notes: this is so delicious. fritz loves it, he gobbled up an entire piece for dinner last night! oh, and speaking of p90x, it’s been going great! papa fritz is down almost 30 pounds and i’m down 10. we both look and feel great. we are on our second cycle right now, in our 4th week of it…just in case you were interested.