International food festivals are a foodies dream come to life. From Spinach Pies to Cornish Pies, there is so much to taste and sample. With a very diverse mix of cultures along the eastern seaboard of the US, we find a multitude of flavors from each festivals culture.
We have sample the Greek festival with a Spinach and Cheese pie, so now we move on to the Italian festival. There is music and dancing, street vendors and carnival rides. It is like we have been transported from little Italy in Wilmington, Delaware to Naples, Italy in Europe.
One of my favorites for an Italian festival dinner is Eggplant Parm with an antipasti salad and glass of Chianti.
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, diced, reserve juice
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil, packed
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 ¼ shredded parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- ¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
- Slice the eggplants into ¼-inch thick rounds. Lay slices on a rack over a rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle rounds with salt. Let rounds sit for 2 hours to release moisture.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and gently cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, breaking up the tomatoes as you add them to the pot. Increase the heat to a simmer, then lower heat to maintain a low simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the basil and remove from heat.
- Combine 1 ½ cups of breadcrumbs with ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese and place in shallow bowl. Have flour in one bowl, beaten eggs in another, and the breadcrumb/cheese mixture in another.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Spread a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of 2 inched rimmed pan. Pat eggplants dry with paper towels. One at a time put the eggplant rounds in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumb mixture. Place on oiled sheet.
- Place in oven and cook for 18 to 20 minutes. Turning slices over at halfway point. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Assemble. Tomato sauce over the bottom of a casserole pan. Place one third of the eggplant rounds in a single layer. Layer half the mozzarella on top then, sprinkle with parmesan. Repeat layers.
- Bake uncovered at 350 for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes.