Oh the rich traditional Calabrian Eggplant Parmigiana! So very rich with fried eggplant and a mountain of cheese. But lighter and vegetarian versions exist, using ricotta for some of the cheese and instead of fried eggplant, using grilled or baked. That is what we have today.
Eggplant Parmigiana is actually a Southern Italian version of the original Northern Italian classic. Serve as a side dish or the centre piece of a meal. Crusty bread and a green salad is all that is needed.
Parmigiana di Melanzane | Eggplant Parmigiana with Ricotta
sea salt to taste
60ml olive oil
3 cups quick tomato sauce (see below for a recipe, check the link, or use pomodoro or other tomato sauce from your Italian provodore)
50g freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 200C.
Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1cm thick slices. Salt each side, and brush liberally with olive oil.
Either grill the slices until tender, or place on baking trays lined with baking parchment and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Then turn the slices over and bake about 10 mins longer until lightly browned and tender. Set aside to cool.
In a baking dish put 0.25 cup tomato sauce on the bottom, spreading to make a thin film. Add a layer of eggplant slices using 1/4 of the slices. They should fit snugly without overlapping – you can cut them in half to fit if necessary. Then layer with 0.5 cup tomato sauce, spreading it evenly, then with 2 Tblspns pecorino or parmesan. Top with 2/3 cup ricotta in small, evenly spaced dollops.
Repeat the layering twice more, topping with a final layer of eggplants and the remaining tomato sauce, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle the final 2 Tblspn pecorino or parmesan over the top.
Bake until the parmigiana is bubbling hot, about 30 – 40 mins. Let rest for at least 30 mins before serving to allow the layers to settle and the flavours to merge.
Eat at room temp or when barely warm.
recipe notes and alternatives
You can use the same method substituting courgettes or fennel for the aubergines – both are delicious.
Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic
2 kg very ripe tomatoes, peeled and
1 Tblspn sugar (if tomatoes are a little tart)
salt and freshly ground pepper
chopped parsley, to taste
chopped fresh basil, to taste
Hem the oil over medium heat in a frying pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft. Add the tomatoes and sugar, season to taste and simmer until the excess moisture has evaporated, 20 – 30 mins. Stir in the parsley and fresh basil.
Sauce can be pureed if necessary.