Eggplant Parmigiana – Stuffed!
My mother, Loretta’s, Eggplant Parmigiana was a much revered dish in our household. This dish was enjoyed hot, cold, in sandwiches, and secretly, late at night right out of the frig with one’s own personal fork. It was splendid! I always liked to be around when Loretta made this dish. The tastings were always amazing. There is nothing quite like a freshly fried slice of breaded eggplant right out of the hot oil! However, later in life, she began to experiment and deviate a little with some of her recipes, including this one. She occasionally put a layer of ricotta in the middle of it, telling me this had something to do with Vic Damone? (Italian singer of note at the time.)
This gave me the idea for my STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH RICOTTA. Instead of the layer of ricotta, I like to stuff each slice of breaded fried eggplant! My husband, Tom, sometimes refers to this dish with the rather sacrilegious term, “tacos” – for which he is usually banished from my Italian kingdom for a few moments, until I can regain my composure. They really do look like little stuffed pockets, but I refuse to allow the word “taco” to be used in description.
Tips: You will use the larger slices of the eggplant for this recipe. Trying to stuff the smaller ones is cumbersome. Save the smaller slices for another dish. I like to cube them and make pasta sauce! You can also grill or roast the smaller pieces for a nice vegetable side dish.
You can leave the eggplant skin on or peel it off. This depends on your preference. I like the skin on for this dish – a little healthier – and it adds flavor, texture, and a better visual.
Pressing your eggplant slices between paper towels to drain off some of the bitterness is also a preference. I always press mine for a couple of hours. I think the eggplant is sweeter this way.
Remember that eggplant acts as a sponge when fried – you made need to replenish the oil along the way.
Some would rather bake the eggplant slices for health reasons to avoid the fat. There is no problem doing this, although it helps to drizzle the slices with a little olive oil before baking them. This makes them a little less dry and tastier.
Do yourself a favor – don’t shortcut this by using a pre-made or bottled sauce. Make your own. You can even make the sauce a day ahead or freeze it. It is sooo much better. I offer a few links to my posts on great sauces for your STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH RICOTTA. You can choose a meat sauce or meatless. If you choose the sauce with pork – the best source for pork neck bones is: Circle B Ranch – Natural Berkshire Pork, humanely raised – with the best flavor I have experienced!
This is a winning dish. It is great left over. Andiamo!
STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH RICOTTA
1 large Eggplant – sliced with skins on (or off if you like it that way)
Flour for dredging
3 Eggs, beaten (more if needed)
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Plenty of Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese to serve with the dish
Chopped Fresh Basil for garnish
1 lb. or a 15 oz. container Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1/2 C. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
2 1/2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt and pepper
1 Beaten Egg
For a meatless sauce – Try my Marinara Sauce or Sauce Pomodoro: HERE
For a truly different meatless sauce – Try my Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: HERE
For a sauce with meat – Try my Pork Ragu – using sausage or pork neck bones: HERE
Slice your eggplant thinly and plan to use the large slices only. Save the small ones for another use.
Press your eggplant slices between paper towels weighted with something heavy ( like cans of tomatoes!) for a couple of hours. Some choose not to do this. I always do.
Make your ricotta filling. Set aside.
Make your sauce. You can make the sauce the day before, if you like.
Place the flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs in separate bowls.
Dredge the eggplant slices in flour first.
Then dip them into the egg to cover.
Then coat them well with breadcrumbs.
Fry the slices in hot oil – takes just a couple of minutes each side. Drain them on paper towels.
Place a little sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Take each eggplant slice and place a spoonful of ricotta filling in each.
Set the “pockets” in the baking dish with the sauce – fit them close together so that they hold one another up. Line them up making two rows. The recipe makes about 16-18 “pockets”.
Spoon a little sauce down the center of the stuffed rows. Don’t drown them in sauce. Less is more! If you have sauce left over, serve some on the side with the dish or save it (can freeze) for another use.
Top them off with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. I like to add some shaved Parmigiano as well – up to you!
Bake at 350 degrees until heated through – about 30 minutes. (depends on your oven)
Serve with plenty of chopped fresh basil.
Perhaps, a vino rosso with your STUFFED EGGPLANT WITH RICOTTA? I know I’d like one. I would choose a Chianti Classico (some might like a Riserva – more “oaky”).
PARLA COME MANGI!
Comments are welcome in the “Speak Your Mind Area” beneath this post online.
Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography