Sicilian Eggplant Parmesan
I learned this recipe while traveling in Sicily. It is light, not fried, quick and simple to make.
For a quicker version, use a simple store-bought Italian tomato sauce & omit steps 2 & 3.
The origin of the dish is not from Parma or because it is made with Parmesan cheese.
The name actually comes from the Sicilian word for shutters “Parmiciana”, named after
the doors made of wooden shutters, resembling the different eggplant layers =
Melenzane alla parmigiana.
4-5 pounds of Eggplants (Petrociane type) or 4-5 eggplants
2-4 TBSP. of Concentrate Tomato paste, thinned w a little water
4-5 cups Tomato Sauce
½ Onion and 1 clove Garlic -both minced well
Basil leaves - 4-6 leaves or 1 tsp. dried
½-1 cup bread crumbs
1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese - grated or cut into very small pieces
½ cup Parmesan cheese - grated
Salt & Pepper
1. Wash and dry the eggplants, removing ends and slice very thinly @⅓” wide.
2. Put them in a colander into layers and spread some cooking salt in between each layer.
Leave for 1 hour so that salt will dry the bitter liquid of eggplants. Remove eggplants from the colander, rinse under water & dry.
I make it omitting step #2 and it is just fine.
3. Make Tomato Sauce - Put 2 Tbsp Olive Oil in a pot, add garlic and minced onion. Fry onions & garlic. Add 4 cups tomato sauce and tomato concentrate, add salt & pepper according to your taste and let it boil till the sauce thickens. Add basil leaves at end.
Turn off heat.
4. Oil cookie sheets w olive oil. Brush all eggplant slices with oil. Bake for @8-12 mins at 450 F until soft and golden brown- turning part way thru if needed. Can be made ahead and used at room temperature.
5. Grate the cheeses and/ or chop into small pieces.
6. Greased a 9 X 13 dish w olive oil. Sprinkle 2-3 Tbsp. bread crumbs on bottom of dish. Spread several spoonfuls of sauce
7. Lay baked eggplant slices on top of tomato sauce as close as possible so there is no space between them. Sprinkle with ⅓ of mozzarella cheese over all then another 2-3 Tbsp bread crumbs. Repeat layering of eggplant, sauce, cheese and bread crumbs.
You should have @3-4 layers. Cover the last layer w remaining sauce and parmesan cheese.
8. Bake at 400 F for 40 mins (OR 350°F for 30-35 minutes in a convection oven). When done, turn off the oven and leave inside for 10 minutes before removing.
9. Serve warm or room temperature. it taste better is baked the day before then reheated. OR...Make it in advance & freeze. Thaw completely before baking. Bake it for the 40 mins several hours in advance, turn off the heat, cover with foil and let it remain in the warm oven until time to eat. It stays hot for a number of hours.