Mark Ruffalo’s Eggplant Parmigiana!
NOT hulk so much as hunk, this Marvel-ous actor has been in the business for a good while now, with his roots in acting stretching as far back as 1989, when he appeared in the anthology series CBS Summer Playhouse. And while he had a few high-profile movies under his belt such as 13 Going On 30 in 2004 and Zodiac in 2007, it can be argued that Mark stepped fully into the limelight when he took up the mantle of Dr Bruce Banner, the Jekyll to Hulk’s Hyde in the 2012 superhero film The Avengers. As an ordinary mortal, though, Mark’s had his fair share of challenges to overcome. He struggled from undiagnosed dyslexia and ADD as a child, and in 2002 was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Luckily it was benign and was successfully removed with surgery. It may have led to a partial face paralysis, but that obviously hasn’t affected his acting chops! Mark is married to actress Sunrise Coigney, with whom he has three children: Keen, Bella and Odette. As to what gets him seeing red (or perhaps we should say green) in real life, Mark says greed makes him angry. Which would probably be a problem for us if he saw us around a dish of his delicious eggplant parmigiana!
Two medium eggplants (washed and cut into 1.5cm thick slices)
Half a cup of flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Five large eggs
Three tablespoons of milk
Four cups of breadcrumbs
One tablespoon of dried oregano
One tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves
One to two cups of vegetable oil (for frying)
680g mozzarella cheese (cut into thin slices)
Half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese
450g provolone cheese (grated)
Two handfuls of fresh basil (leaves only; torn)
One-quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Three medium onions (peeled and cut into thin slices)
Six cloves of garlic (peeled and grated)
One tablespoon cayenne pepper
One tablespoon granulated sugar
Two tins of tomatoes
ARRANGE the eggplant rounds in a single layer on two baking sheets, sprinkling salt on both sides of each slice and allowing it to sit for about one hour (salting them draws out the liquid and bitter flavour). After the hour, rinse the slices with cold water and dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel. Put the flour in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper, and in another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper. In a third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the oregano and fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Next, dip each eggplant slice in the flour and shake off the excess; then dip these in the egg mixture, and, finally, the breadcrumbs. Make sure to coat both sides of each slice of eggplant. Fry them in the oil until golden brown, about two minutes on each side, then transfer them to a baking sheet fitted with a kitchen towel so the eggplant can drain as the others cook, and season lightly with salt. Preheat the oven to 180ºC while you finish off the eggplant.
The Tomato Sauce
FRY the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Cook until the onions become translucent, then add the sugar and the canned tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break up some of the whole tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time. Set aside to cool.
SPOON about a quarter of the tomato sauce on the bottom of an oven dish, and top with a layer of the fried eggplant (the eggplant slices can overlap slightly). Top with about one third of the mozzarella slices, and sprinkle with about one quarter of the Parmesan and provolone cheeses. Top with a layer of torn basil leaves. Spoon the sauce again and repeat the layering twice more. Finish it off with the remaining mozzarella and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 35 to 40 minutes. This can be made in a muffin tray to make separate ones. Eat and enjoy your parmigiana with a fresh salad!