My very first feedback was for one of my co-workers who unfortunately wants to remain nameless….boo 😦 However, I manage an employment office and threw it out there to my staff that I will make dinner for whoever gets the most clients employed in a week. I thought this was the best way to get an opportunity to give back to someone with food and spring “FeedBack” to life for the first time.
Once we had a “winner” I approached this staff and asked them what their favourite dish was. She responded with “oh anything, don’t worry, you don’t have to make me anything”. It took some prying and prodding in order to get a final verdict which turned out to be Eggplant Parmigiana!!! Oh great, a dish I never made…..ever!
I must say the “nameless” winner deserved this “feedback”. She is very passionate in helping her clients and does the work because she wants to, not because she has to. She has been toying around with the idea of retiring for the past year or so but I am glad she hasn’t yet, otherwise I would not have had the pleasure of working with her and experienced the great work that she does.
So even though I grew up in an Italian family, I am embarrassed to say that I never ate eggplant or melanzana as my mother would call it in Italian. She definitely used to make it but as a child I didn’t find it very appealing so I just never ate it.
Although I was not very excited when I realized I had to make eggplant parmigiana, I was glad to take on the challenge of making a dish that I never made before. I not only learned to make a new dish, I also enjoyed making it as well.
So I went about exploring different recipes online and decided to go with Mario Batali’s eggplant parmigiana as I know he is a great chef and having eaten at Otto (his restaurant in New York) where the food was out of this world, I knew I could do no wrong.
This is my variation of the recipe with a couple of small tweaks.
- 2 large purple eggplants (sliced in 1 inch rounds)
- 1 head of garlic cloves (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 2 cups tomatoe sauce
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoons chili flake
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus 1/4 cup)
- salt and pepper to taste
I first sliced the eggplant into 1 inch rounds and placed them on a baking sheet with salt and pepper and olive oil, roasting them in the over for about 15 minutes.
I also started the sauce, simply with 2 cans of plump tomatoes, onion, garlic and a shredded carrot with dried thyme.
While the sauce was simmering I toasted the breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil until crispy and golden.
I then created an assembly line and layered it all into a baking pan. First the tomatoe sauce, layer of eggplant, layer of mozzarella and some grated parmigiana, then repeated a second layer, tossed the breadcrumbs on top and threw it in the oven at 400 degrees until everything melted and the breadcrumbs toasted.