How to make Eggplant Parmigiana

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How to make Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana is a rich and substantial single dish, typical of Italian cuisine.

These are fried aubergines then assembled in layers in a pan with tomato, cheese, and basil and finally baked in the oven where all the ingredients embrace together, forming a gratin crust and a stringy and tasty filling to be cut into slices! Unique goodness with disputed origins, between Sicily, Campania, and Emilia Romagna.

Who invented eggplant parmesan?

The origin of the name “Parmigiana” is not certain, and there are two main hypotheses, leading to attribute the origin of the dish to the city of Parma or to Sicily.
One hypothesis is that the term “Parmigiana” is traced back to one of its ingredients, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

The hypothesis that takes us to Sicily, on the other hand, has the name “parmigiana” derived not from the ingredient of the dish or the city of Parma but from the Sicilian term “parmiciana.” This word indicates the shutters, which with their wooden slats would resemble the overlapping slices of eggplant that go to make up the layers of parmigiana.

Sicilian Parmigiana

The main ingredient of parmigiana is eggplant, a vegetable that is very common on the tables of our homes today but that arrived in Italy only in the 15th century thanks to Arab traders who brought it to Sicily by importing it from India.

The arrival of eggplant in Sicily before anywhere else in Italy and the hypothesis of the term “parmiciana” as the origin of the dish’s name are the evidence that leads many to see eggplant parmigiana originated right here.

Parmigiana in Parma

The use of an ingredient such as Parmigiano Reggiano, from which many believe the very name of the dish is derived, inclines many to think that its origin is in Emilia-Romagna. In addition, historical sources date back to the 15th century the expression “cooking in the manner of the Parmigiani,” which was used in cookbooks of the time to indicate the preparation of layered vegetable recipes popular in the cuisine of the Parma area.

So where did parmigiana originate?

The origins of parmigiana as we have seen are diverse and it is difficult to know where it originated and to determine what the original recipe is. Basically, in all its variations parmigiana is always prepared with fried eggplant, alternating with layers of tomato sauce and cheese. The different regional variations arise mainly from the way the eggplant is fried, the cheeses used inside, and the addition of certain ingredients.

Sicilian-style eggplant parmigiana is distinguished by the addition of scamorza cheese and hard-boiled eggs, while in the Emilian variant, the layers of parmigiana are enriched with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Eggplant parmesan: traditional e authentic

Follow this Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe, with all the advice and step-by-step illustrations and you will bring a perfect Parmigiana to the table in no time! with compact but at the same time soft layers, with a delicious flavor, succulent and lightly greasy!

The one I am giving you today is the original recipe of eggplant Parmigiana; that is the most classic. An easy preparation that does not involve any difficulties, just a few simple steps.

You can choose long or round aubergines, it is important to cut them the same thickness, to promote uniform cooking and the layers blend better with each other! Once fried in boiling oil, the aubergine slices must be dried so that they are less greasy! Remember that you do not have to peel the eggplant when making eggplant parmesan.

A few minutes to make the dense, full-bodied, and fragrant tomato sauce, and when all the bases are cold; you can assemble them together with perfectly drained mozzarella, parmesan, and fresh basil leaves! Eggplant Parmigiana can even be prepared in advance and frozen; just thaw it in the refrigerator the night before eating it!

The secret to a perfect result is rest! Once cooked, let all the aromas and ingredients settle together, an essential step also for cutting the slices!

Excellent to be enjoyed cold, or lukewarm or simply heated; incredibly good the following day too! Eggplant parmesan is perfect to prepare well in advance! So they solve dinner, they are ideal for buffets, parties, to be transported on a trip, beach, picnic! Mamma mia che buono!

 Eggplant Parmigiana
Eggplant Parmigiana

Recipe Difficulty Level: not too tricky Servings: 6/8

Ingredients:

(to convert to UK metrics, click here)

  • 1 kg (35.2 oz) of eggplants
  • 600 ml (2½ cups) of tomato sauce (passata)
  • 450 g (15.8 oz) of mozzarella
  • 70 g (2.4 oz) of parmesan
  • ¼ of onion
  • some leaves of fresh basil
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil to fry
Eggplant parmigiana video

Method:

Cut the mozzarella into slices of 5 mm (0.20 Inches). Dry them with the help of a clean rag (squeeze it if it becomes too wet). Put the sliced mozzarella in a sieve and leave them in a sink. They will lose more water.

Now, let’s prepare the sauce!

Chop the onion and brown them in one spoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add the tomato sauce, the fresh basil, and salt. Cover and cook it for at least 20 minutes. Once ready, let it cool down.

In the meantime, let’s prepare the eggplants!

Clean the eggplants under water and dry them. Cut them into slices of 5 mm (0.20 Inches).

In a pot, pour abundant vegetable oil and warm it. To check the temperature of the oil, submerge a toothpick. When you see small boils around it, the oil is ready to fry.

Fry the eggplants (do not fry too many slices together). Turn them to cook on both sides. Drain the fried eggplants and locate them on a plate with a paper towel. Position the paper towel on both sides of the eggplant slices. Drain the slices twice, with a paper tower (trying to remove as much oil as possible). Let them cool down.

Now, let’s assemble the Eggplant Parmigiana! (you can also assemble it the day after).

In a baking tray, add two ladlefuls of tomato sauce. Add one layer of eggplants, one next to each other, trying not to leave spaces in between. Add some mozzarella slice (remember to drain it before!), fresh basil, and 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan. Then, add some tomato sauce on top.

Repeat it by adding layers of eggplants, mozzarella, basil, and tomato sauce.

In the last layer, after the tomato sauce add a little bit of parmesan and few basil leaves.

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180 C (356 F°) for 35-40 minutes. Locate it in the mid part of the oven.

Move the baking tray to the bottom of the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. After that, raise the temperature to 200 C (392 F°) and cook for another 7-10 minutes.

Take it out from the oven and let it cool down for 3-4 hours before serving it. You can also serve it cold or warm it at the last moment (as I love it!)

Enjoy! Buon appetito!

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