eggplant, which was introduced last year at the SEMANA MESA SP gastronomic week in São Paulo, is the creation of chef Carlos Bertolazzi from C.U.C.I.N.A Gastronomica in that city. It is his reimagining of a classic Italian dish, melanzane alla parmigiana, making use of sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients and substituting wheat germ for less-nutritious white all-purpose flour.
RECIPE - Layered Eggplant (Berinjela em Camadas)
1/4 cup (65 ml) wheat germ
1 Tbsp fresh oregano, crumbled
2 Tbsp light soya sauce
1 medium-size, firm European egglant (or 2 smaller ones)
juice of 1/2 lime
extra-virgin olive oil to taste
1 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil
2 Tbsp onion, finely minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large ripe tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Worcesterchire sauce
1 large leaf fresh basil
1 cup (250 ml) ricotta cheese
2 Tbsp toasted walnuts, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Italian parsley, finely minced
2 Tbsp green onions, green part only, finely chopped
1/4 cup (65 ml) grated mozzarella cheese
Prepare the eggplant:
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Wash and dry the eggplant, then slice it into rounds approximately 1/2 inch (1 cm) think. Ideally you should have nine slices - use two eggplants if required. Lay the slices out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle them with the oregano and soy sauce and let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the lime juice over, then dip the slices into the wheat germ, covering both sides. Grease a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, turning the slices over about halfway through, or until they are golden brown on both sides. Reserve.
Prepare the stuffing:
Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is transparent but not browned. Add the tomato, the salt, the Worcestershire sauce and the basil leaf and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomato breaks down. Remove from the heat, let cool, then stir in the ricotta, the walnuts, the parsley and green onion. Reserve.
Complete the dish:
In a small greased casserole arrange one third of the eggplant slices in one layer. Spread some filling on each slice, using up to half of the filling. Top with a second slice of eggplant, and spread an equal quantity of filling on each. Finally, top with the remainng slices of eggplant and sprinkle grated mozzarella over the top surface. Place in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the mozzarella has melted and the filling is hot.
Serve immediately accompanied by a green salad.