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Eggplant Kugel Parmagiana

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, ricotta, 3% or other mild cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan or other sharp cheese
    Sauce I
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 pound of fresh, ripe, tomatoes
  • handful basil leaves, chopped
  • pepper
    Sauce II
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 28 oz can of Italian tomatoes, chopped roughly or pureed
  • handful basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Tbs chopped parsley
  • pepper

    Sauce III

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 oz dry wine
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 5 basil leaves, chopped
  • pepper

Directions

  • Slice unpeeled eggplant into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Coat with kosher salt and leave in a colander for at least 1 hour so the bitter juices leach out, just as you would kasher meat. Unlike kashering meat, however, this salting improves the taste of the food (and is commanded by aesthetic, not halachic, tradition: eliminating the bitter juices is the secret to almost all good eggplant cooking).
  • While the eggplant is 'kashering,' turn the broiler on to preheat and get the sauce ready.
  • Use either sauce, or any other tomato sauce that suits your fancy, but make it thicker than for pasta.
    • Sauce I:Whirl garlic and tomatoes in a food processor or blender until smooth and frothy. Heat oil in a non-reactive pot, add tomato puree and half of the basil. Simmer or even boil, stirring occasionally, until thick enough, at least 1/2 hour. Add pepper and the rest of the herbs. Even if it seems to need salt, resist the temptation to add it: the eggplant and cheese will have plenty.
    • Sauce II: Heat oil, fry garlic slightly -- don't let it brown. Add mushrooms and stir until they are beginning to release their juices. Add chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer until it thickens. If you are in a rush, 5 minutes will do, but 1 hour is better. Add basil, parsley, pepper and simmer a little longer.
    • Sauce II: Mix tomato paste and just enough wine to make a thick sauce. Add garlic, pepper, and basil. This sauce does not need to be cooked before assembling the kugel (although it'll be even better if you do -- simmer it gently in 1 Tbs olive oil and add more wine as it thickens).
  • When the eggplant is covered with beads of brown juice, rinse thoroughly and squeeze out any remaining juices between two layers of paper towels.
  • Broil or fry the eggplant slices. I prefer broiled or grilled:
    • Broil: arrange eggplant slices one layer thick on aluminum foil or a broiler pan. Broil close to heat, about 5 minutes per side, until browned and beautiful.
    • Grill: Usually takes just a couple of minutes on a side; watch carefully to be sure it doesn't burn.
    • Fry: dredge slices in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs or matzah meal. Saute in olive oil until brown. Watch carefully -- they tend to burn.
  • Assemble in a baking dish or kugel pan: Start with a layer of eggplant, then mozzarella slices, then tomato sauce; repeat if necessary. Top with parmesan cheese.
  • Bake at 400° for about 15 minutes.
  • Serves 4-6. Serve with a salad and rye toasts rubbed with a split garlic clove and dribbled with olive oil.
  • The finished product can kept in the fridge for a day or two and reheated in a 300° oven or on the blech. It can be frozen, with some loss of texture. Even better: sauce and eggplant will keep (separately) for up to a week in the fridge if tightly wrapped or covered in a non-metallic container.

Parev Parmagiana (not) Variation

  • Use a skinny (Chinese or Italian) eggplant; broil as directed. Arrange eggplant slices on a plate or on the garlic toasts, place 1-2 Tbs tomato sauce on each one, sprinkle on capers, chopped Kalamata olives and kosher salt, grind on some pepper and heat very briefly in the oven.
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