Eggplant Parmesan With Buffalo Mozzarella {Parmigiana di Melanzane}

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I have loved eggplant parmesan (parmigiana di melanzane) for years, and after making it dozens of times myself over the years, I have tweaked the recipe until I have the perfect eggplant part (for me). I prefer lighter, healthier dishes whenever possible, so I prefer to bake, not fry my eggplant. I also prefer to use top quality cheese and find if I do so, I find that you do not need as much. We have a store here in Umbria that is right off the highway exit of Orte that sells products from the region of Campania. This store has the very best buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala), which is simply fresh mozzarella made from the milk of the domestic Italian water buffalo. This cheese is very creamy and delicious, and whenever we pass by we always stop at this store to buy mozzarella and burrata cheese. On our recent return from Positano, we stopped by and bought four large balls of mozzarella, and one of burrata.

We enjoyed two meals of Insalata Caprese (tomato and mozzarella salad ), but after a couple of days I knew that I needed to use up the rest of my mozzarella as it is best eaten within a couple of days of purchase. I had been craving eggplant parmesan ever since I saw it listed on many restaurant menus in Amalfi, so I decided to use my mozzarella up in this dish. Fresh mozzarella is lighter in texture than block mozzarella although it is stored in water so is very wet. I find it best to slice my mozzarella and then let it sit for thirty minutes or so to remove the excess liquid which would make your dish watery. I used medium to small sized eggplants from my garden and didn’t salt them because I knew they were very fresh. Rather than make the usual layered eggplant parmesan, I cut my eggplants in half and then topped them with the sauce, buffalo mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. To finish my eggplant, I sprinkled them with some homemade breadcrumbs rubbed with olive oil, but that is a step I probably would not bother with next time. Allow I enjoyed the texture that the crumbs added, I also like topping my eggplant with just the two cheeses, so I’ll let you decide if you want to add this step. To keep this dish tasting light and summer fresh, I used my favorite Quick Tomato Sauce, but you could use whatever tomato sauce your family prefers.

If you cannot find buffalo mozzarella, fresh mozzarella will work just fine. Just try to use the best quality products you can to ensure the tastiest dish. I served my eggplant halves as my main course after a small portion of light summer pasta, but you could use even smaller eggplants and serve them as appetizers. I like to serve this dish warm, not hot for the best flavor, but it was also delicious at room temperature the next day for lunchtime leftovers.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2015

Eggplant Parmesan With Buffalo Mozzarella

Ingredients:

  • 4 Medium Eggplants
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Recipe Quick Tomato Sauce
  • 12 Ounces Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Thinly Sliced
  • 3 Ounces Grated Parmesan Cheese

Crumb Topping: (Optional)

  • 1 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the eggplants in half, and using a vegetable peeler, remove all of the skin except for a 1-inch strip along the cut edge.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spread the oil over the foil.
  4. Place the eggplants cut side down on the baking sheet, then roast until eggplants are soft, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  5. If using breadcrumbs, rub together the crumbs, seasonings and oil with your fingertips.
  6. Transfer the eggplants cut side up to a large shallow baking dish.
  7. Use a spatula to gently press the eggplants to flatten them to about 3/4-inch.
  8. Spoon the tomato sauce to cover each eggplant half.
  9. Place the sliced mozzarella over the sauce.
  10. Sprinkle the eggplants with the crumbs (if using), and the grated parmesan cheese.
  11. Bake in the preheated 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheeses are bubbly and lightly browned.
  12. Serve warm.