The Eggplant Parmesan is an old Sicilian dish, made in Sicily when the eggplants were introduced from the Middle East.
In Sicily, the eggplants were fried, covered with a grated tuma, a fresh cheese, sprinkled with the abundantly available basil; before being baked they were layered one on top of the other like the parmiciane, which are the horizontal slats used in making the outside shutters called Persian blinds or persiennes, hence the name Eggplants alla Parmiciana.
When in the 17th century the tomato was accepted as an edible vegetable the eggplant parmiciana were made in the simple way they are served today: fried eggplants covered with tomato sauce, basil and grated pecorino cheese.
The name was incorrectly translated from Sicilian to Italian and transformed to Parmigiana.
Serves: 4 to 6
- 2 eggplants peeled and sliced ½ inch thick, lengthways
- ½ cup of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 28 oz. can of peeled tomatoes, remove seeds and chop
- 15 leaves basil
- 3 tablespoons of Pecorino grated cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place eggplants in a colander, salt lightly and set aside for 20 minutes.
Rinse the sliced eggplant, and drain for a few minutes. Gently pat dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
In a skillet, heat ½ cup of olive oil over a medium flame and fry the eggplants until golden brown. Place fried eggplants on paper towels to drain the oil.
If you prefer to grill them, brush both sides with oil and cook until tender, about 3 minutes on each side. The eggplants can also be baked at 400 degrees, cooking them about 4 minutes on each side.
Place cooked eggplant in trays.
The Tomato Sauce
In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium flame and sauté the garlic. When golden brown remove it and discard.
Add the chopped tomato and cook for 15 minutes. If sauce becomes to dry add some water. Taste for salt and pepper, tear and add 5 basil leaves and set on side.
Place a few tablespoons of sauce in an 11” X 7” pan and place the fried eggplants in layers, covering each layer with tomato sauce, a sprinkle of cheese and a few basil leaves, continue until all ingredients are finished.
Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Garnish with basil leaves.