Aubergine Parmesan

Parmigiana di Melanzane from Campania… no, Apulia… no, Sicily!

Nobody is quite sure where this dish comes from and its origins are hotly disputed between the above regions. Some people mistakenly assume that it comes from Parma in Emilio-Romagna because of the name, but that is not the case. In fact, I lean towards the idea that the dish was originally Sicilian because one explanation for the name could be that it comes from the dialect word for “shutters”, parmiciana, due to the way the slices of aubergine (or eggplant, as you wish) overlap.

Eggplant parmesan
Parmigiana di Melanzane

I also think it might be Sicilian because of the number of aubergines I ate when I first visited Palermo in 2007 – parmigiana, stuffed aubergines, aubergine pizza (called siciliana, appropriately), aubergine pasta bake, pasta with aubergines, aubergines with fresh tuna… they really like their aubergines in Sicily.

This recipe takes patience. It probably wasn’t the best idea to do it on a week night but it was pretty damned good! This is just one variation of this recipe, as each family in every one of the three regions in which the recipe is regularly made seem to have their own recipe… and that’s if you can get mum, gran and all of the aunties to agree on one version!

You will need (makes four large portions)

3 good sized aubergines
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups vegetable or seed oil (for deep frying)
2 cans of tomatoes
a handful of fresh basil
3 large eggs
500-700g of Fior di Latte (or mozzarella if you can’t get Fior di Latte)
a handful of parmesan or other hard grated cheese
salt to taste
A lot of kitchen roll…

1. Fill a basin with cold, salty water.

2. Slice the aubergines lengthways, about 0.5 -1 cm thick.

Sliced Eggplant

3. Place them in the salted water for about 20 minutes. This will help take any bitterness out of the aubergines.

4. While the aubergines are soaking, prepare the egg by beating it in a bowl and placing to one side.

5. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic. Once it begins to turn golden, add your canned tomatoes and a pinch of salt and let simmer, keeping an eye on the sauce. When it thickens to a good consistency, as if you were making pasta sauce, add a handful of basil, stir until the leaves wilt and turn off the heat.

Tomato sauce
Tomato sauce

6. Drain the aubergines and rinse them well to get rid of the salt. Blot with kitchen roll to get rid of any excess water.

7. Add the vegetable oil to a large pan with relatively high edges and place on the hob. Prepare the kitchen table or other surface by laying out 2 layers of kitchen roll on it.

8. Heat the oil until bubbling BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN USING HOT OIL!!!!!!!

9. Prepare an oven dish and place it nearby. Preheat the oven now, to 200°C.

10. Take the slices of aubergine, and a few at a time coat them in the egg then drop them into the oil, turning them and removing when golden brown. Place them on the kitchen roll you laid out earlier.

11. When you have a few slices laid out, blot the excess oil away and add one layer to the oven dish. Cover with a thin layer of tomato sauce and a scattering of pieces of fior di latte.

12. Repeat, this time arranging the aubergine slices in the opposite direction, so they cross over each other.

complex cooking
As you can see the oil, fior di latte milk and egg get everywhere. Be ready for some scrubbing after making this recipe!

13. keep going until you have filled the dish. On the last layer (the top) don’t add any fior di latte: just a layer of tomato sauce and a handful of parmesan

Parmesan for the oven
Ready to go in the oven

14. Place in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the parmesan on top is dark and bubbly. In the meantime, clean the bombsite that was once your kitchen –  I didn’t and had to do it after dinner, when I was half asleep. Not fun.

Eggplant parmesan

6 Comments Add yours

    1. Thanks! It was better reheated on the second day, a bit like lasagne is always better on day 2 somehow…

  1. Congratulations! you well cooked the best recipe in the world! but no eggs! here in Naples aubergines are fried dry..nice to meet you and your blog! Bye!

    1. Here in Salerno they use eggs… hence my comment about everyone having their own recipe and nobody agreeing on where it comes from lol! Nice to meet you too and thanks for dropping by!

      1. I’m sorry! I didn’t want correct you. I normally am careful and kind! All version of this recipe are fantastic.In nalpes, I was almost convinced that their recipe is the original! It’ s a very proud people! I’m sorry, I’m sorry and I’m sorry! I’ll definitely try this too. Kisses.

        1. Don’t say sorry! I think you misunderstood, I wasn’t offended in the slightest, anzi! It’s fun to see different recipes, and how everything changes even just 50km down the motorway 🙂 feel free to “correct” whatever you want 🙂

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