According to The New York Times, montepulciano d’Abruzzo has a good deal in common with eggplant alla parmigiana. Both the dish and the wine are common staples in low to middle-tier Italian restaurants, and rarely reap raves.
But alter the dish somewhat from its traditional preparation (greasily fried and heavily-laden with cheese), and you get a dish that’s flavorful and light, which pairs well with an everyday montepulciano. We learned this was true just last night, when we filled our NuVin Goblets from an $11 bottle of montepulciano, and tried the following suggested recipe:
Eggplant Alla Parmigiana
4 small eggplants, each 6 – 8 ounces
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 leaves of fresh basil
1. Trim eggplants and slice across 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and place on one or more racks (cooling racks for baking) on a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet on medium, add garlic and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. When garlic is golden, add tomatoes and cook down a few minutes. Season to taste. Transfer to a food processor and pulse briefly until nearly puréed.
3. Rinse and dry eggplant slices. Heat half the remaining oil in a skillet on medium-high. Fry as many as fit comfortably until golden, adding more oil and eggplant in shifts. Transfer fried eggplant to paper towels to drain.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread a little tomato sauce in a 9-inch casserole. Add a layer of eggplant, then half the cheese, half the basil and half the remaining sauce. Repeat layers. Top with a layer of eggplant. Bake 20 minutes. Remove and allow to sit 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot or at room temperature.