Friday, November 13, 2009

Melanzana Parmigiana

Every year at about this time, I get the urge to make lasagna. I don't know if it's the turn to colder weather, or the approaching holidays, or just my time in Italy, but fall is lasagna time. Because I lived in Italy, I make really good lasagna. The problem is my really good lasagna takes actual time, at least 2 hours, so I only make it when I am going to share it with people.

Which doesn't cure my hankering for lasagna.

But last week I went to the farmers market and bought some really beautiful eggplant. I used one in soup, but was pondering what to do with the other three. And then it hit me: melanzana parmigiana, or eggplant parmesan. If you are not familiar with this, it is lasagna with sliced eggplant in place of the noodles. Perfect for us gluten-free folks. (But if you go and order eggplant parmesan at an Italian restaurant the eggplant will be breaded. Be careful!)

For this simple, quick, weeknight meal, I also omitted the white sauce that I would normally make for lasagna. Because my eggplants were a different variety (I think they are japanese), I cut them round and baked them in my muffin tin. The other option is to cut the eggplant lengthwise, so the slices approximate lasagna noodles.

Melanzana Parmigiana
1 big eggplant, sliced
tomato sauce (This time I blended it so it was smooth)
cheese (I used an "Italian" cheese blend)

To prep the eggplant, peel the skin and slice it. Place all the slices in a colander and cover with a generous amount of salt, about 2 tbs. Allow the eggplant to sit and "sweat". (Ooh, like those mafia movies). I put the eggplant to sweat while I made the tomato sauce, so for at least 15 minutes. Then rinse the eggplant off thoroughly.

In the muffin tin, put 1/2 tsp of sauce at the bottom of each muffin well. Layer one slice of eggplant, then 1 tsp of sauce and a dash of cheese. Continue until the wells are full. Top the last slice with sauce and cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 min. Your knife should easily pierce the eggplant, and the sauce should have evaporated some, and the cheese should be golden-brown.

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