No traditional Italian dish brings back memories of the years I spent in Italy more than eggplant parmigiana. My father passed on this particular recipe to me who in turn learned it from his mom. This particular recipe is a traditional Sicilian recipe, which may be somewhat different than eggplant parmigiana dishes you may have tried before. Unlike others, this uses no bread batter. The result is a clean taste and texture that puts the flavors of the eggplant and parmesan cheese front and center.
- Two Eggplants
- Olive oil
- Parmesan Cheese (about 200 grams or 7 oz)
- Mozzarella(about 100 grams, or 3.5 oz)
- 3 cups of tomato sauce
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper
- 5-10 basil leaves
Peel the eggplant with a peeler. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into approximately 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick slices.
Pour enough olive oil in a frying pan to bring it to about a ¼ inch depth and bring the olive oil to frying temperature (about 356ºF or 180ºC). I use an iron pan on the B.B.Q. It works great and saves the work of cleaning up any oil spattering in the kitchen.
Gently place one layer of cut eggplant into the pan and fry the eggplant slices until golden brown. As you fry the eggplant, the olive oil will deplete. Replenish and let the oil heat up to frying temperature (356ºF or 180ºC) before continuing.
Place eggplant on a plate lined with a couple of pieces of paper towel to absorb excess oil from the cooking process and put aside.
Crack the two eggs and place in a bowl, add salt and pepper (about ½ a teaspoon of each), gently whisk and put aside.
The key ingredient of this dish is parmesan cheese. You’ll have the best results if you use a good quality Italian Parmigiana cheese. Cut a block of parmesan (about 200 grams or more if you really like parmesan) and begin to shave the block into the thinnest slices you can. The size of the slice (i.e. width by height) doesn’t matter, but the slices should be thin, like a thick piece of paper. If you can’t manage this then simply coarsely grind the Parmesan.
Now start to layer your ingredients in a casserole dish or an iron pan. Start with a layer of eggplant followed by a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Follow with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. Next grab a fork, dip it in the egg mixture and pull in enough to spread a very thin layer across the top with your fork.
Finally spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on top followed by a couple of pieces of basil leaf. You’ve completed the first layer. Now repeat this layering process for about 3 to 4 more layers. If you like, complete the top layer with tomato sauce and some extra cheese.
Preheat your oven (or BBQ if using a cast iron pan) to about 350 degrees and then bake for about 35 minutes.
Let cool for 20 minutes. This is a great dish with pasta or as a vegetable side dish, and don’t forget a nice glass of red wine to compliment it!