Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Aubergine Parmigiana

The Parmigiana di Melanzane is a classic of Neapolitan cuisine, well known and appreciated all over the world. There are many different versions of it: some people use normal mozzarella, some people try to make the parmigiana a bit lighter by just stir-frying the aubergines instead of deep-frying them. Either way, it still remains a quite heavy dish: it takes long to be prepared and requires some effort, but if made in adequate quantities it is definitely enough for a whole meal.


Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 40 mins

  • Aubergines: 1 kg
  • Buffalo mozzarella: 500 g
  • Parmesan, grated: 100 g
  • Tomato sauce: 1 l
  • Eggs: 3
  • Onions: ½ an onion
  • Garlic: 1 clove
  • Basil, fresh: a bunch
  • Sugar: ½ tsp
  • White flour: as needed
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): to taste
  • Salt and pepper: to taste
  • Seed oil for deep-frying

Method

Tip: A good parmigiana is never too watery; to avoid the mozzarella releasing too much liquid whilst cooking, open it up the day before, remove it from its water and leave it to dry out overnight in the fridge.

Cut the mozzarella in slices and put it aside.

Rinse the aubergines and dry them with a clean kitchen cloth. Cut them in slices about 5 mm thick.

Beat up the eggs in a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Put some flour in a shallow plate. Lightly flour each aubergine slice, then dip it into the eggs, and then flour it again. Warm up the seed oil in a saucepan and deep-fry the aubergine slices a few at a time. Once cooked through, remove them from the oil with a skimmer and place them on a plate lined with kitchen paper, which will absorb some of the oil.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

Peel and crush the garlic and finely chop the onion. Fry them up with some olive oil in a pan and once the onion turns golden pour in the tomato sauce. Add two thirds of the basil, season to taste and don’t forget to add the sugar to counteract the tomatoes’ acidity. Cook the sauce for about 20 minutes.

Once the sauce is ready, pour a ladle of sauce in a casserole dish and cover the bottom of the casserole with aubergine slices. Place the mozzarella slices on the aubergines, building up the second layer of your parmigiana. Sprinkle some basil leaves on top of the mozzarella and add a generous handful of grated parmesan. Pour in a ladle of tomato sauce and start over again with a layer of aubergine slices. Keep adding layers in this same order until you run out of ingredients; the last layer must be a generous ladle of tomato sauce topped with mozzarella slices and grated parmesan.

Bake the parmigiana at 200°C for about 20 minutes. Once ready, turn off the oven but leave the parmigiana inside until it’s just about warm enough to be eaten.

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