I'm almost sick of this dish now. I used to love eggplant in whatever dish and pasta in any sauce, but I've cooked this one too many times in the past weeks. If my husband asks me ten more times to cook this pasta on the following ten weeks, that's it. I will cook it. And eat it with him like it's been a long time since I had this dish. Well, a week is long especially if work is on a rocky road. Mine is fun though. Heh-hey!
As many of my dishes are, I learned this from my mother-in-law. It's not that I have never eaten eggplant parmigiana, for I have, at a non vegetarian Italian restaurant that serves a crunchy version of this. But it was the first time I actually thought I can cook it at home.
I deeply believe in the saying necessity is the mother of invention. For now that I have very little access to vegetarian food outside home, I've started eating outside to learn more about food and eventually replicate those dishes at home. Before, I just eat outside because I have friends to eat with, and there are several vegetarian places to go to. Now that I have not much of either, my cooking repertoire has slowly widened.
Ever since my mother-in-law cooked it for dinner one night, my husband has been asking me to cook the same dish for him. I've cooked this probably 5 times the past 5 or 6 weeks. But each time, I matched it with different sauces (you can never have too much or too little to mix with pasta). Once with a simple white sauce, then with quick pesTomato sauce, then with gli spaghetti alla primavera sauce, and recycled lettuce-bell pepper salad turned into tomato-red spaghetti sauce. My husband is not a fan of white sauces but all versions were successful. But I'd recommend basil pesto or pesTomato sauce-- basil really put wonders to simple meals.
Ingredients (3-4 servings)
eggplant, 390 g (about 3 medium-sized eggplants)
bell pepper, 70g (about 2 1/2 pieces)
canned tomato, 1 1/4 cup
Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 tsp
ajinomoto, 1/2 tsp
sugar, 1 1/4 tsp
soysauce, 2 1/2 tsp
Cut the eggplant into 1 cm-thick ovals. Cut the bell pepper into small cubes.
On a pan over medium high heat, pour quite a generous amount of oil, enough to shallow fry the eggplant. Toss in the eggplant, sprinkle ajinomoto, black pepper and Italian seasoning. Mix well. Spread the eggplant over the pan to evenly cook all sides, mixing it from time to time to keep from burning. It took me 6-7 minutes to make it well done and browned but, but at 3 and a half minutes, all eggplant slices were cooked. Turn off fire and transfer the eggplants to a strainer or plate with paper towel to drain oil.
Using the same pan, stir-fry bell pepper for 30-60 seconds then add tomatoes, sugar, soy sauce, more black pepper and Italian seasoning. Let it simmer for 3 more minutes.
Add Parmesan cheese then mix well. Turn of fire.
Cover the bottom of a 750 mL gratin plate with eggplant. Then pour in half of the tomato sauce. If you want it cheesy, you may top this layer with cheese then toast it in the oven for about 4-5 minutes. If not, you can just cover the tomato sauce with another layer of eggplant, then pour over the remaining tomato sauce then cover the second layer with cheese. Toast it in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is browned on some spots.
Serve hot on top of spaghetti or toasted bread!
L: This eggplant parmigiana is topped with fresh parsley and paired with white sauce (to put a lasagna-ish touch to the dish).
You may also top it with broccoli florets, fresh bell pepper, fresh basil, colorful juicy paprika-- almost anything that you fancy.
Next time i'll try making a crunchy version of eggplant parmigiana coated in breadcrumbs. ^_~ I just feel too lazy to deep fry things especially now that I've decided to decrease my use of cooking oil. But wait for it, I will surely conquer the tomato sauce world!
R: This is a plain eggplant parmigiana pasta. On its own, it's incomparable. Paired with other sauces, it will leave you speechless and your heart and stomach full but craving for more (just like my husband who requests this every week).