Parmigiana Di Melanzane
Eggplant Parmigiana or Parmigiana Di Melanzane is a traditional 3-ingredient recipe from Sicily, Italy. Contrary to what we would all think, “Parmigiana” does not mean “with Parmesan cheese”. Parmigiana comes from the Sicilian word parmiciana which means “latticed”, describing the way the eggplant slices are arranged in the baking pan or casserole prior to baking. Enjoy!
Cooking time: approx. 60 min
You need: a bowl, a tray, a skillet, a frying pan and an oven-proof casserole or pan
- 4 medium eggplants (aubergines),
- 2 cans of tomatoes,
- 2, or more, garlic cloves,
- 250g to 300g (0.5 to 0.8 Lbs) of grated Pecorino cheese,
- 1 onion – preferably red,
- 1 cup of of basil leaves,
- A bit of olive oil,
- A bit of flour.
First, make the tomato sauce
- Peel and cut the onion in half.
- Peel the garlic cloves and smash them flat with the broad side of a knife.
- Take a skillet or broad fraying pan, add a bit of olive oil and then add the tomatoes.
- Add the onion and the garlic cloves.
- Add the basil leaves.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon and turn the fire on to high.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately lower the fire to medium.
- Allow the sauce to simmer for about 30 minutes.
While the tomato sauce is simmering… prepare the eggplants
- Add some flour in a bowl.
- Wash the eggplants, dry them with a towel, chop off the narrow ends and then cut them into slices of approx. 1 cm ( 1/2 inch) thick.
- Add a bit of olive oil in the frying pan and turn the fire on to medium-high.
- Pass the eggplant slices lightly through the flour. Shake off any excess flour and fry them in the pan in batches, like 4 or 5 slices at one go, until they are tender. (Remember, they are going to be baked into the oven a little later, so, don’t overcook them.)
- Remove the eggplants from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and put them on a tray. Then pat them dry with a kitchen paper.
- Sprinkle a bit of salt over each fried eggplant batch as you go.
Combine and bake
- By now, the tomato sauce must be ready.
- Turn on the oven to 200C or 392F and let it preheat.
- Take your oven proof casserole or baking pan and spread some of the tomato sauce on the bottom. This is your first layer.
- On top of the tomato sauce layer arrange a layer of eggplant slices in a lattice pattern. (“Parmigiana”, remember? :))
- Sprinkle some of your grated Pecorino cheese on top of the eggplant layer and repeat the exercise until you have used up all the ingredients.
- Be careful so that the top layer is made of tomato sauce and grated Pecorino cheese.
- Bake in the oven for approx. 30 minutes and then under the grill for another 5 minutes (to make the top crispier).
Notes on Eggplant Parmigiana
- Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
- Most North American gas stoves come with a grill under the oven compartment. If your stove is different you may want to place the casserole or pan in the upper half of your oven, which is generally hotter than the bottom half.
- This recipe can be as simple or complicated as one may wish to make it. E.g. there are Eggplant Parmigiana recipes out there calling for a combination of cheeses, even for… mozzarella. Try the (this) simple version first, see how it goes and then feel free to experiment next time.
- Pecorino cheese is made of sheep-milk, which is a lot more digestible than cheese made from cow’s milk. Pecorino is also a bit rough and tangy, combining very well with the slightly bitter taste of the eggplant and the sweetness of the tomato sauce. If you have to use a different kind of cheese then try to select one that tastes closer to Pecorino than away from it.