Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Burrata

Our Cowgirl and The Pilot Merlot is a wonderful complement to the earthy smokiness of the eggplant and the fresh herbs in this recipe. Creamy burrata cheese tops this flavorful eggplant parmesan and makes a warm and comforting Italian dinner that tastes even better the next day – if there are any leftovers, that is!

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Trefethen extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup The Cowgirl and The Pilot Merlot
  • 4 pounds fresh Roma tomatoes, large diced (or 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • kosher salt

Layering Ingredients

  • 4 lbs Italian eggplants (about 4 medium), peeled & sliced lengthwise 1/2–3/4 in thick
  • 3 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1½ tsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated, divided into two
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1⅓ cups Trefethen extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup basil and parsley, finely chopped
  • 1⅓ cup low-moisture mozzarella, grated
  • 16 oz fresh burrata or soft mozzarella, pulled apart
  • fresh basil leaves for topping
  • kosher salt

Procedure

  • 1For the sauce, heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and red pepper and cook, stirring often, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil, and continue cooking until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute more. Add tomatoes and their juices to the pot and stir in basil until combined. Reduce heat and cook on the stovetop until thick, 2–2½ hours. Let sauce cool slightly and process through the large holes of a food mill or strainer. Taste and season with salt.
  • 2To make the eggplant release extra liquid and produce a creamy texture when baked, prepare a rimmed baking sheet by layering several layers of paper towels. Lightly season eggplant slices all over with salt and place on top of paper towels in a single layer. Top with another layer of paper towels and more slices, repeating as needed. Top with a final layer of paper towels, then another rimmed baking sheet on top and weigh down with a heavy pot. Let eggplant slices sit until excess liquid is released, about 1 hour.
  • 3Meanwhile, pulse breadcrumbs, oregano, pepper, and ¾ cup Parmesan in a food processor until very finely ground. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
  • 4Preheat oven to 350F. Place flour in another shallow bowl and eggs in a third shallow bowl. Working one at a time, dredge eggplant slices in flour, then dip in egg, allowing excess to drip off. Coat in breadcrumbs, packing all around, then shaking off excess. Place on wire racks.
  • 5Heat 2/3 cup of oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Cook as many eggplant slices as will comfortably fit in pan, flipping once, about 5 minutes until deeply golden. Transfer to paper towels and immediately press with more paper towels to absorb oil. Working in batches, repeat with remaining slices, adding remaining 2/3 cup oil and wiping out skillet as needed. Let cool, taste, and season with more salt if needed. Set aside.
  • 6To assemble, toss chopped herbs, low-moisture mozzarella, and remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan in a medium bowl. Spread 1 cup sauce over the bottom of a 13×9″ baking pan and top with a layer of eggplant slices, trimming as needed. Drizzle 1 cup sauce over the 1st layer and sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese mixture. Repeat layers with remaining slices, sauce, and cheese mixture. Cover and bake on a rimmed baking sheet until eggplant is custardy, 45–60 minutes.
  • 7Remove from pan oven and arrange fresh burrata over eggplant. Increase oven temperature to 425F and bake uncovered until cheese is bubbling and browned in spots, about 15–20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let rest 30 minutes. Top with basil leaves just before slicing. Enjoy!

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