Eggplant parmesan, “parmigiana di melanzane” in Italian, is a typical dish from southern Italy. The name has nothing to do with the city of Parma, as it is placed in northern Italy, or with the Parmesan cheese, as the original version used to contain the cheaper Pecorino cheese. Probably the name comes from the Sicilian word “parmisana” that is a slat of a Venetian blind, referring to the way eggplant slices are put in the baking dish.
Usually eggplant slices are fried in oil but you can grill them to have a lighter (and faster to cook) dish.
- 2 lbs. (1 Kg) eggplants (about 2 or 3)
- olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely sliced
- 2 lbs. (1 Kg) canned peeled tomatoes
- fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) cow’s milk (fior di latte) mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese
Wash the eggplants, remove the stems, cut them in slices 1/4 of an inch (1/2 cm) thick, place the slices on a large platter and sprinkle with salt. Place a weight on top of the slices and let stand for at least one hour to make the eggplants tender and remove all bitterness.
Wash the salt off the eggplant slices and dry them. Flour the slices and fry in very hot olive oil. Brown eggplant slices on both sides and set aside to drain on a paper towel.
Brown the onion in olive oil over a low flame. Add the canned peeled tomatoes, mash them with a fork and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. When the sauce is ready adjust with salt and add chopped fresh basil.
Cut the mozzarella cheese into thin slices. Arrange a layer of eggplant slices in a baking dish, spread with some tomato sauce, cover with mozzarella and a thin scattering of Parmesan cheese. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the sauce and a good sprinkling of Parmesan.
Pre-heat the oven to 375º F (190° C) and bake for about 20 minutes.