My father eats Eggplant Parmigiana every Sunday night. And who doesn’t love a crispy Napoleon of crunchy, creamy fried eggplant, chunky-runny sauce, and gummy, salty Mozzarella cheese. It’s impossible to resist.
It wasn’t until I went to Italy and France when I was twenty-two that I realized there was another way to make our Sunday night favorite. My South-of-France Eggplant Tian for this week’s French in a Flash on Serious Eats is Eggplant Parmigiana built from bricks of roasted eggplant, fresh, light sauce, summer thyme and basil, and a mix of Mozzarella, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses. Despite the cheese, the dish is lighter, more flavorful, and somehow more satisfying than the Little Italy original. Sometimes you have to look far and wide to find true love. As always, the full article and recipe are here. Bon app!
- 20 grams (3/4 ounce) of basil, plus 10 grams
- 2 stems of thyme, plus 2 stems, plus extra for garnish
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 3 medium to large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 60 slices in all)
- 1 cup light tomato basil sauce, homemade or store-bought
- 1 ball (125 grams) fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced
- 2/3 cup shredded Gruyere
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
- Toasted pine nuts for garnish
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Make a simple herb oil for the eggplant by whirling together the basil leaves and 2 stems of thyme in a food processor with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Toss the eggplant slices together with the herb oil so they are all equally coated. Spread into an even, if slightly overlapping layer, on two large baking sheets. Roast for 10-12 minutes, until the eggplant softens and begins to tan in the oven. Set aside.
- Turn the oven down to 375°F.
- You will create 4 layers of eggplant, so divide your eggplant accordingly. Begin by covering the bottom of the dish in a single, slightly overlapping layer of eggplant. Season with salt and pepper. Coat lightly with 1/4 of the tomato sauce. Then, tear on a few remaining basil leaves and thyme leaves. Then 1/3 of the mozzarella.
- Create another layer of eggplant, following with salt and pepper, tomato sauce, fresh herbs, mozzarella. Do it all once again, then place your final layer of eggplant. Brush on the last bit of tomato sauce. Then cover the whole tian with the mixture of Gruyere and Parmesan.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and steaming, and the cheese is nutty and brown on top. Allow to stand 5 minutes before cutting into little eggplant Napoleon tower.
- Top with torn bits of fresh basil and thyme, and a scattering of toasted pine nuts.