Sometimes, the best meals are the ones that take you back. For Rosa Rosa’s Executive Chef Kenny Giambalvo, that meal is Eggplant Parmesan. Chef Kenny stopped by Molly Riehl’s kitchen to share a taste of his childhood.
Makes 4 portions
For the sauce:
1 ea. small yellow onion finely diced (about 1 cup)
4 ea. garlic cloves sliced thin
2 large cans whole peeled tomatoes
½ bunch basil (leaves only)
¼ cu grapeseed (or other high-quality vegetable oil)
Kosher salt & black pepper to taste
- Heat a large (6 qt) sauce pot over a medium flame with the vegetable oil.
- Add the garlic and sauté stirring constantly until the garlic is lightly browned.
- Add the onions and turn the flame down to low. Cook the onions until transparent but without giving any color, about 5 minutes.
- Add the basil leaves and continue to cook until the leaves are tender.
- Add all the tomatoes and juice from the cans.
- Add three fingers of salt and pepper.
- Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and using a whisk, agitate the sauce while it simmers with the whisk to break apart the tomatoes and keep the sauce from scorching on the bottom.
- Adjust the seasoning and set the sauce aside until ready to assemble the dish.
For the eggplant:
2 ea. medium size globe eggplant
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 whole eggs
3 cups dry white bread crumbs (panko)
2 cups vegetable oil (grapeseed oil recommended)
- Peel and slice the eggplant lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices. 12 slices total are needed to build 4 portions with 3 layers of eggplant.
- Lightly salt each slice and place them side by side in a cookie sheet tray with paper towel below, and a second sheet of paper towel on top.
- Weigh down the slices with a second tray or other flat-bottomed container.
- Place in the refrigerator for one hour. This will give time to draw out the water in the eggplant.
- Remove the eggplant from the cooler.
- Arrange three large bowls or other container (for example a cake pan) and measure the flour, whisked eggs and bread crumb in separate bowls.
- Dredge each slice of eggplant first in flour, then egg, and last bread crumb. Make sure to evenly coat each slice while dredging in each ingredient.
- Arrange each breaded slice of eggplant on a clean and dry cookie sheet tray in a single layer. If necessary, place a sheet of parchment paper over the first layer if a second layer of eggplant is needed.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottom sauté pan or large cast iron fry pan over a medium-high flame.
- Carefully place the slices of eggplant into the hot oil, making sure to not overload the fry pan. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on the outside.
- Remove each fried slice of eggplant from the pan and let cool on a dry clean paper towel to absorb any residual fry oil.
For the final preparation:
1# fresh mozzarella (best quality available) sliced ¼” thick slices
½ bunch basil (leaves only)
1 cup grated Parmesano Reggiano
- Using a large (9” X 13”) Pirex or other casserole pan, spoon enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Arrange 4 slices of eggplant in the casserole leaving about an inch between each slice.
- Cover each slice of eggplant with basil leaves then with slices of mozzarella, and finish with a generous sprinkle of grated parmesan.
- Place a second slice of eggplant over the layer of cheese, and continue with the second step of basil, mozzarella and parmesan.
- Continue building the layers of eggplant, basil and cheese finishing with the cheese as the top layer.
- Place the casserole in a pre-heated 350F oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the top layer is lightly browned.
- Serve immediately with some additional tomato sauce that has been brought back to a simmer, spooned over the top.