February 1, 2016
It is well known that the secret of the Mediterranean Diet is not only in quality but also in the balance of its products. But the nutritional balance does not always correspond with acceptance of different foods throughout history. Indeed, eggplant, grown for over 2,000 years, originally from an Asian area between China, India and Burma, has always maintained a love-hate relationship with its followers or detractors. Firstly it may have been a more or less important crop for human consumption, European physicians of the medieval period would lower the status of the eggplant by using it for mere decoration. In that time it was thought that the eggplant was a source of various ailments such as fevers, seizures or bouts of insanity, probably related to an abuse of this vegetable. The Arabs introduced them in Europe during the Middle Ages and then Europeans took them to the New World. However, they gradually earned their place in Mediterranean cuisines, like the Italian, Greek and Andalusian, becoming today one of the national products of Italian and/or Greek cooking. Whatever the origin of this week’s recommended recipe, eggplant parmesan is craved not only for its delicious taste, but for being a good healthy meal.
- Prep: 1 hr 15 mins
- Cook: 50 mins
- Yields: 4 servings
1Wash the eggplants and dry with a clean cloth, remove the stems of the upper parts. Cut, without peeling and slice 0.5 cm thick.
2Arrange the slices on a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let them drain for an hour and a half to release their bitter juice. After this time, quickly rinse under running water and dry thoroughly, first with a clean cloth and then with absorbent kitchen paper.
3Peel and chop the garlic and tomatoes. Cut the mozzarella into thin slices. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over low heat and cook the garlic while browning. Add the chopped tomatoes and basil. Add salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Then, pass this sauce through a food mill and set aside.
4Brown the eggplant in batches in a non-stick skillet greasing the skillet each time with the remaining olive oil.
5Arrange a layer of eggplant on the bottom of a baking dish and cover with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Place a layer of mozzarella slices and repeat. Finish with a layer of tomato sauce sprinkled with Parmesan and bake for 40 minutes in preheated oven at 180ºC. The Parmigiana can be served warm or cold.