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Neapolitan Eggplant Parmigiana

Ingredients
  • 4 medium eggplants, 3-1/2 to 4 lbs
  • salt
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 4 cups canned undrained imported Italian plum tomatoes, pureed and strained
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced fresh mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Instructions

Peel the eggplants and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices on a large dish and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. The salt will draw out the eggplant's bitter juices. Pat the slices dry with paper towels. Heat 1 inch of oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Coat the eggplant slices lightly with flour and slip them, a few at a time, into the hot oil. Cook until they are lightly golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices and drain on paper towels. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and let them turn a golden brown, then discard them. Add the tomatoes and season with salt. As soon as the tomatoes come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until the sauce has a medium-thick consistency. Preheat the oven to 350. Spread a few heaping tablespoons of sauce on the bottom of a 12x9-inch baking dish, and cover with a layer of fried eggplant slices, slightly overlapping each other. Spread some more sauce over the eggplant and cover with a layer of mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmigiano. Repeat with one more layer of eggplant, tomatoes, mozzarella, and Parmigiano. Add a final layer of eggplant and tomatoes, and sprinkle with Parmigiano. Place the dish in the oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let the dish settle for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. The traditional Neapolitan way of eating eggplant Parmigiana is at room temperature. This dish tastes even better after it sits for several hours or a day. If prepared a day in advance and refrigerated, bring it back completely to room temperature before serving.

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