Melanzane Con Uova al Forno

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I love eggplant and I’m always looking for interesting ways to make it.  One Saturday afternoon in January during one of the worst snowstorms that ever hit the Washington DC area, my mom and I salivated at every step as we watched Lidia Bastianich make this eggplant parmesan dish.  What makes the dish so impressive and unique is the whole egg that’s baked on top of the eggplant parmesan. My first thought as I watched Lidia was that this dish is all about the presentation and not about the taste. So I was really curious how the egg might change the taste of the dish.

My mom and I decided to make it for a friend’s birthday and our first attempt was perfect. It was so easy, and the dish was as delicious as it looked. The egg added such a wonderfully silky smooth texture to the eggplant parmesan. This is a must try.

 

Ingredients

 
  • Simple red sauce
  • 3 small eggplants
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for salting the eggplant
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the gratin dishes
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiano cheese
  • 6 large eggs

 

Instructions

 
Step 1:  With a vegetable peeler, peel strips lengthwise down the eggplant, leaving alternate stripes of peel. Cut off stems and slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. 
 
Step 2: Line a large colander with the eggplant, overlapping if necessary; salt liberally on both sides, and let drain in the sink for 30 minutes. Rinse, drain and dry the eggplant well.
 
Step 3: Make simple red sauce.  Click here for recipe.  Add the crushed red pepper flakes to red sauce. 
 
Step 4: Spread the flour on a plate. Lightly dredge the dried eggplant in flour, tapping off the excess. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the eggplant in batches, about 2 minutes per side, and adding more olive oil as needed. Remove the slices as they brown, and drain on a paper-towel-lined sheet.
 
Step 5: Once the sauce and eggplant are ready, brush six individual gratin dishes with olive oil. Spread a scant 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of each dish. Fold the eggplant slices to line and fit the gratin dishes in an even layer. Spread another scant 1/4 cup of sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle sauce with about 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat the process with one more layer of eggplant, sauce, and cheese. Lay a basil leaf over the cheese and crack an egg into each dish. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese.
 

 
 
Step 6: Place dishes on a baking sheet, and cover with foil. Bake until sauce is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Uncover, and bake until cheese is browned and eggs are done to your liking, about 5 minutes more for almost-set yolks.
 

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