Country of Origin - Italy
Preparation Time1 hour and 20 minutes
Cooking Time1 hour and 50 minutes
DifficultyMedium
Tags vegetarian

Description

This dish is truly an italian classic. It is not clear where it originally came from, and you can find it all over Italy, north and south. It is very tasty and filling and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Personally, I love this dish cold in the summer. As with many tomato sauce based dishes, it may even taste better the day after you make it, after the flavors have blended together. Another thing to say is that there are many variations - some recipes add ham, or use a different kind of cheese. We give you here a 'basic' one.... feel free to try your own variation!!

Nutrition Facts
Per 412 g Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories
366 kCal
Calories from Fat
185
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
20.5 g
31.5%
Saturated Fat
10.4 g
52.2%
Cholesterol
60.1 mg
20.0%
Sodium
906.8 mg
37.8%
Total Carbohydrates
23 g
8%
Dietary Fiber
7 g
26%
Sugars
12 g
Protein
19 g
38%
Vitamin A    4% Calcium    50%
Magnesium    19% Iron    9%
Vitamin C    31% Potassium    26%
Vitamin D    0% Folate    17%
* Based on a regular 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional details are an estimate and should only be used as a guide for approximation.

Ingredients for
people

Ingredient AmountComment
For the Main Part
Eggplant 2 lb 14 oz

For 8 people, 3/4 large eggplants...they vary in size

Canned Crushed tomatoes 1 1/4 qt (5 cups)

Of course, if you have fresh tomatoes or have tomato puree, you can use those too.

Mozzarella cheese, whole milk 1 lb 2 oz

You can also use other cheeses...like smoked mozzarella, or provolone.

Parmesan cheese, grated 1 cup (8 fl oz)
Fresh basil 1 oz
Onions 1/2 onion
Olive oil 2 Tablespoons (1 fl oz)
For Frying
Canola oil 1 cup (8 fl oz)
For the Preparation
Table salt 1 oz

to cure the eggplant

Recommended Ingredients and Equipment

1 Prepare your ingredients. We recommend using fresh basil (not dried) because it really brings that freshness that combines so well with the fried eggplant. Wash and dry the eggplant and the basil.
2 Cut the endings of the eggplant and slice them. If you have a mandolin, you can use that, otherwise you can use the knife. They should not be too thin but not thick either, about 3/8" (1cm)
3 Eggplant have some bitter juice so we want to salt them and let them lose some of that juice. Also, they fry better if we make them lose some of their liquid. So, take the slices, arrange them on a rack and put some coarse salt on top of them. I put them on a rack on the sink, but you can also put them inside a colander with something underneath to collect the bitter juices. Cover them and let them rest for an hour or so.
4 Now we prepare the sauce. First of all, if you have canned tomatoes, blend them or get them through a food mill. Then finely chop the onion.
5 Take a pot big enough for all the tomato sauce and put it on medium heat. Add the olive oil and the finely chopped onion. Stir, let it cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Don't let it brown - if it does, lower the heat.
6 Once the onion is soft and translucent, add the tomato sauce, a pinch of salt, and stir. Keep it at medium heat till it begins to boil, then take the heat down to a gentle simmer. Let it cook for about an hour to thicken the sauce. Once it's done, put a few leaves of basil in and let it cool.
7 Next, we need to fry the eggplant. Some people prefer to bake it instead - it's easier and a little lighter - but I think the flavor is much better if you fry it! If you have a deep fryer, use it. I used a skillet, with half an inch of oil. Ideally for frying you want the oil to reach a temperature of about 365F. I use a candy thermometer to check the correct temperature. Easier if you have a deep fryer. But first, you have to wash and dry the eggplant, which have been letting go their bitter juice. We want to wash the salt away and pat them dry using paper towels or regular towels. It's very important - residual water causes dangerous splatter when frying so be safe! Pat the eggplant dry!!
8 Fry the eggplant in small batches, a couple of minutes per side. Don't crowd the pan or the oil will cool. You can use the thermometer to check the temperature of the oil - you don't want it to get it too hot - it will smoke - but neither too cool - the eggplant will be soggy and oily. Try to keep it at about 365F. It takes a little bit of practice. Put the cooked eggplant on a paper towel to absorb some of the frying oil.
9 Once you're done cooking all the eggplant, set it aside to cool. They need to be cool enough to handle when assembling the parmigiana.
10 Shred the cheese in small pieces or dice it. Grate the Parmesan if not grated already. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C
11 Now it's the time to assemble the dish. Use an oven proof container - for 8 portions you can use a 9" by 13" oven proof glass container. Keep handy all the ingredients: the eggplant, the cheeses, the basil, the tomato sauce. Start layering the eggplant, put on top some of the mozzarella cheese, some Parmesan and a couple of leaves of basil, and salt and pepper to your liking. Remember we are adding Parmesan, which is salty, so don't oversalt.
12 Add some tomato sauce on top, keep adding layers of eggplant, cheese and tomato sauce.
13 Add layer after layer, taking care of gently pushing the eggplant down in order to avoid air bubbles, and pack the ingredients nicely. The last two layers should be tomato and cheese - we want to have a nice cheese crust on top, so make sure you save enough cheese - both mozzarella and Parmesan - for the top. Season the top with pepper if you like it.
14 By now the oven should be warm - 400F/200C. Bake it in the oven for about 30/40 minutes in the bottom rack, until the cheese on top has browned like in the picture. Once it's cooked, take it out and set aside to cool. Just out of the oven is way too hot to eat!
15 Garnish with basil leaves when serving. This dish is also enjoyable the day after, even cold, and you can even use it to fill a sandwich. There are many variants as I mentioned in the description, you could add ham, mortadella, or use another kind of cheese. Buon appetito!