Whenever Doug, my husband, returns from a trip, I like to welcome him back with a dish I know he likes. He usually wants “something with lots of vegetables”, probably to make up for the steaks and burgers he has on the road. One of his absolute favorites is melanzane alla parmigiana, a typical Italian dish featuring eggplant. Come and cook with us!
Eggplants are worthy of our attention in the garden, grocery store or farmers market for their skin: their purple color has nutritional power as it shows that the plant is packed with an array of potent phytochemicals that protect the plant for damage in its environment but also do the exact same thing for the cells and DNA in our body. Furthermore, eggplants have a high fiber content and are quite filling despite a low caloric ratio. Last tidbit, eggplants are considered to be a fruit, but are botanically a berry. Go figure. And along with potatoes and tomatoes, they are members of the nightshade family.
As for this dish, granted, eggplant parmigiana is not something that you pull out of your hat in 15 minutes, but it can be done fast enough if you prep a little ahead. It’s really all about the eggplant slices and how elaborately you want to prepare them. The classic dish requires to dip them into flour and fry them up in plenty of oil. But I skip that. Instead, I roast the thinly sliced eggplant in the oven. And to change it up a bit, I also add zucchini to give it a little crunch and complexity.
The dish itself is a layered lasagna type, but without the pasta and meat. And if you’re a fan of eggplants and Italian food, then this is an absolute winner and worth the time. We never have left-overs as the whole family digs in, soaking up what’s left in the pan to make sure nothing goes to waste.
Make the most of the eggplants, zucchini and tomatoes season and give this dish a try. You won’t regret it. Come and cook with us us!