The eggplant zuccotto is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate: the ingredients are very similar to the eggplant parmigiana, just assembled differently, and result in the same great flavor! Find this and many more recipes with pictures on the English version of the Giallozafferano App http://itunes.apple.com/app/giallozafferano-recipes/id384387249?mt=8 (or Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=it.banzai.media.gzricette&hl=it)
Start by trimming the ends off of the eggplants, then cut into ¾-inch (2 cm) cubes. Place a sieve over a bowl, layer the diced eggplant and sprinkle each layer with coarse salt. The salt will draw out the bitterness and excess moisture from the eggplant; do the same with all the eggplant cubes. Sprinkle with more coarse salt, then cover the eggplants with a plate and place a weight on top to press it down. Let it sit for a couple of hours, after which you should notice a dark brown liquid at the bottom: it’s the bitter juices and excess moisture that have been released.
While the eggplant is resting, heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a pan and add the garlic; leave it in large pieces, if you wish to remove it later. Sauté until light golden brown, then add the tomatoes; I’m using whole peeled tomatoes, but you could use tomato puree if you prefer. Salt to taste and cook over medium heat for at least half an hour; towards the end of the cooking time, add a few basil leaves, roughly torn. Cover with a lid slightly ajar, or use an anti-splash lid.
Wash the eggplant under cold running water to remove the excess salt, then pat dry with a clean cloth; coat the eggplant in flour and shake off the excess, but first remove the garlic from the pan. Add the basil and the tomato sauce is done. Toast the breadcrumbs in another pan, lightly heat the oil, meanwhile fry the eggplant. Once golden brown, place the diced eggplant on kitchen paper. Meanwhile add the breadcrumbs to the pan and stir until toasted; be careful not to burn them. Finish coating the eggplants.
It’s time to assemble the zuccotto: this mould is 6 ¼ inches (16 cm) in diameter, about 3 ⅓ cups (800 ml) capacity. Lightly oil the mould with a brush, then line with cling film to make it easier to unmould. It will go in the fridge, not in the oven, since the ingredients are already cooked as you could see, and you can serve it at room temperature or even cold. All right, take the bowl with the tomato sauce, add the grated parmesan cheese, the pecorino cheese, the toasted breadcrumbs and the fried eggplant. Mix well, to blend the flavours together. Fill the mould with the mixture, press down to remove any air pockets, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. And while the zuccotto is resting, let’s see together the ingredients needed for this recipe!
For a 6 ¼-inch (16 cm), 3 ⅓-cup (800 ml) capacity mold
For the eggplants
- 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) of eggplants
- 5 tbsp (60 g) of coarse salt
- 1 ½ cups (200 g) of flour
- 2 pints (1 lt) of vegetable oil for frying
For the tomato sauce
- 1 lb (500 g) of whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic
- 10 basil leaves
- 2 tbsp (30 g) of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch of salt
- 6 tbsp (30 g) of grated pecorino cheese
- 6 tbsp (30 g) of grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup (60 g) of breadcrumbs
- 1 ⅓ tbsp (20 g) of extra virgin olive oil
- a few basil leaves for garnishing