I have an Italian cousin, Laura, who lives in Turin. Her son Fabio speaks English really well and we correspond via e-mail. He sent me this recipe from his mother (grazie, Laura!) for the way they fix Eggplant Parmesan. It's what I love about Italian cooking - so perfectly simple and fresh.
Don't forget to salt the eggplant - remember my previous Eggplant Rolatini post? I explained the importance of salting the eggplant, not to get rid of bitterness like some people think, but to collapse the tiny air holes in the eggplant itself. If you like to read about stuff like this - the "whys" of cooking and the science of food, you should really pick up a copy of Harold McGee's must have book, "On Food and Cooking". Lots of professional chefs refer to this book. McGee has done an unbelievable amount of research on the science of cooking. It's a great reference book to have.
For the tomato sauce
- About 35 ounces San Marzano tomatoes (or canned if you can't find fresh)
- 5 Tbsp. olive oil
- some onion
- some basil
- some water
- 2 eggplants
- canola oil
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Wash the tomatoes and squeeze them to eliminate the seeds. Skip this step if using canned tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a pot, with the oil oil, salt, some minced onions and some basil leaves and 1/3 cup of water (skip the water if using canned tomatoes).
When the onion is well cooked, put the sauce through a food mill.
Slice the eggplants, put the slices in a bowl or colander and salt them generously. After an hour, wash the slices well and fry them using the canola oil.
Layer the slices in a baking pan, cover with the sauce, some basil leaves and the parmesan cheese. Serve cold.
Note: Laura says if you want you can make more layers and add ham and/or mozzarella cheese, baking it for around 20 minutes.