Melanzane alla Parmigiana
Parmigiana, also called parmigiana di melanzane or melenzane alla parmigiana, is one of the most famous and classic Italian dishes that originated in the region of Campania. It consists of sliced eggplant, pan fried in oil, layered with tomato sauce and cheese and baked in the oven. You can think of it like an eggplant lasagna that's made with layers of eggplant instead of pasta. Italian immigrants brought this recipe to the US and you can still find versions of the traditional eggplant, but many other variations include chicken or veal that's breaded and covered with tomato sauce and cheese. In Naples, they also sometimes prepare this dish using zucchini or artichokes in place of eggplants.
Total time: 120 minutes
Prep time: 40 minutues
Cooking time: 80 minutes
What you'll need:
2 Medium sized eggplants
1 12 oz Mozzarella, cut in cubes
1/2 Onion chopped
1 and 1/2 Cans tomato sauce
2 cups Parmigiano
10-15 Basil leaves
1. Rinse the eggplants, cut off both ends and slice the eggplants in the vertical way ~ 1/4 inch thick (like the picture).
2. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and put some salt crystals. Then place a plate with a weight on top of the eggplant for around 1 hour, so they can drain the vegetative water out.
3. Heat up some olive oil with the chopped onions in a large pan. Sautée for couple minutes at medium heat and then add the tomato sauce.
4. Add salt to taste, and use the empty tomato sauce can to add 1/4 can of water. Cook at low-medium power for ~30 minutes
5. When you have about 5 minutes remaining, tear basil leaves with your hands into small pieces and add to the sauce.
6. Make sure the eggplants have been pressed enough to release some water. If not, apply some more pressure to help squeeze some water out. Then rinse the eggplants, pat dry, and set aside on a plate.
7. Add enough vegetable oil to a pan so that several eggplants can cook together submerged and heat up at medium high heat. When it’s hot enough you should start to hear the oil pop. Add the eggplants (perhaps 4-6 at a time or however many can fit) and fry for 2-3 mins, turning over halfway through.
8. Once cooked, remove from oil and pat dry. Continue until all the eggplants are cooked.
9. Take a baking pan and start by spreading a thin layer of tomato sauce at the bottom.
10. Then make a first layer of eggplant, add a layer of tomato sauce, grind some black pepper, sprinkle with some grated parmigiano cheese and the mozzarella cubes.
11. Make a second layer of eggplant and repeat the directions as above.
12. On top of the last layer off eggplant use more generous portions- the rest of the tomato sauce, more grated parmigiano and extra mozzarella.
13. Bake the eggplant in the oven at 400 F for around 40 mins. If you'd like a more golden crust on top broil for the last 5-10 minutes.
14. Wait to cool, then cut and serve as you would a lasagna.