Today's recipe comes from my grandmother, one of my role models for feeding a family with love. This is one of my favorite foods. Grandma calls it Eggplant Parmigiana, and from early childhood this is what I thought Eggplant Parmigiana always was. We would eat this as a cold sandwich on Italian bread. My brothers and I all loved it, but would get curious looks from the other kids when we brought this to school for lunch. I later learned that Eggplant Parmigiana is usually served hot and with much more cheese. My grandmother gave me a tutorial in how to make this treasured family recipe about 20 years ago. I have yet to make it myself, and I don't remember my mother ever making it either. I'm not sure why, but I think it's because I consider this to be her signature dish, and while she's still living (90 years old and going strong!), I don't want to tread on her turf. The measurements for this recipe are not precise, as she just cooks by adding "a little of this, and a little of that."
Grandma's Eggplant Parmigiana
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
dried basil, a few shakes
black pepper, pinch
1 T olive oil, plus more oil for frying (I believe she used vegetable or canola oil)
1 cup flour
garlic salt (about 1/2 tsp)
garlic powder (about 1/2 tsp)
grated parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup, plus more for layering)
- Make sauce by heating olive oil and cooking garlic briefly. Add cans of tomato sauce, black pepper, and basil. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
- Make batter for eggplant. Combine flour, egg, garlic salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Mix together with water until it is the consistency of pancake batter.
- Heat oil in frying pan.
- Dip eggplant slices in batter and fry in pan until browned on both sides.
- Put a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of a pie pan or casserole dish.
- As you cook eggplant slices, layer them in the pan in the following order: sauce, eggplant, sauce, sprinkling of parmesan cheese, etc.