When talking about Italian comfort foods, Parmigiana Di Melanzane will always be on the list. What is it? Well, to describe it briefly, it is a layered casserole with slices of eggplant, particularly the globe type. Sounds familiar? Yes, it is like lasagna, but instead of using pasta, you utilize eggplants.
Aside from the eggplant filling, this delicious Italian dish also comes with a layer of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes as well as cheese. You can only imagine how delightful it is once it is baked. You will love every bit of it!
There are several theories about the origin of Parmigiana Di Melanzane. Some say that it was first made in the Southern regions of Italy, particularly Sicily and Campania. Some also believe that it originated in Parma, where Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is made.
Despite the debates about where the dish came from, one thing is for sure, it is something that would surprise anyone who eats it. It is absolutely delicious. Hearing its name, you might be intimidated and think that it is difficult to make. But really, it’s not. You just have to be careful when preparing the eggplants so that they won’t get mushy and oily. Keep in mind that this vegetable is like a sponge and it can absorb oil easily. But with the right trick, you can surely avoid that.
This Italian dish, comparable to lasagna, is comfort food at its best. Egg slices are breaded and then layered with basil, tomato sauce, and Parmesan before it is baked in the oven. The result is a wonderful dish, perfect for a special dinner!
2 large globe eggplants (about 2 pounds)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. and 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (plus more for the sheet pans)
1 tsp. garlic (minced)
1 can (28 oz.) peeled tomatoes (diced, reserve the juices)
1/2 c. fresh basil (finely chopped)
1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
1 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese (divided)
1 1/2 lbs. fresh mozzarella (thinly sliced)
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
4 large eggs (beaten)
freshly ground black pepper
- Lay the eggplant slices on several layers of paper towels or a rack over a rimmed sheet pan. Sprinkle both sides of each slice with salt and let them sit for about 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, start making the sauce by heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juices. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat and continue simmering for about 15 minutes without a cover. Season with salt and pepper. Add the basil and remove from heat.
- In a shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Put the flour in a separate shallow bowl and then the beaten eggs in another one.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Get two rimmed baking sheet pans and spread a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of each. Dredge the eggplant slices in this order: flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumb-parmesan mixture.
- Arrange the dredged eggplant slices on the oiled sheet pans and drizzle a little bit of oil over the top of each.
- Bake the prepared eggplant slices for about 20 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- To assemble the casserole, spread about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce over the bottom of a casserole dish. Put a single layer of eggplant rounds, covering the sauce. Layer half of the sliced mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese (1/3 cup). Place another layer of eggplant slices over the cheese, followed by 1 cup of tomato sauce, and then the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese. Add the remaining eggplants, tomato sauce, and cheese.
- Bake (uncovered) for 35 minutes.
- Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
When baking the eggplant slices, be sure to turn them over at the half-way point.
If you have some leftover, you can simply store it in the fridge. It should be good for up to five days. Reheat it in the microwave and voila, you’ll have another serving of Parmigiana Di Melanzane!