At our potluck dinner Monday night, Ruth made us eggplant parmesan which was fabulous. I was already thinking it was about time we made the grocery store trip to pick up mozzarella and pasta sauce and make this happen, but the excellence of Ruth's preparation really forced the issue.
The key element that makes this eggplant parmesan excellent, is, I think, the pre-frying of the eggplant. I don't know if we've said so with conviction just yet, but frying eggplant produces the tastiest stuff. Grilling ain't bad at all, but you can't touch a good fried product. You saw from our photo in week 18 how the eggplants of late are long thin creatures, as opposed to months back, here for example, when we were getting big fat varieties. The big fat ones would probably do you better for parmesan, but it was high time we tried this standard. I used all the eggplant we had, some now 5 days old, some 12 days old. The older stuff was getting pretty soft and mushy feeling, but in the end I can not differentiate, so old eggplant will work fine for this dish.
I peeled the eggplant, sliced it into perhaps 1/2 inch thick slices, salted it on just one side, let it sit 10 mins, sopped up the eluted liquid with paper towels, breaded with plain bread crumbs, and fried in 380 deg F vegetable oil, about a half to an inch deep in a skillet, about 2 minutes each. The oil was just deep enough that most of the slices did not need turning. I then removed these and used them to make the parmesan. Basically a layer of eggplant, a few small scoops of ricotta, spoon over pasta sauce, repeat. On the top layer I sprinkled mozzarella, and baked for about 30 minutes at 350 deg F. Voila. Very tasty!