Eggplant Parmigiana

A delectable, flavor-rich version of the classic eggplant (aubergine) dish.

Vegetarian; can be made vegan. Hands-on time: 10 mins. Total time: 55 mins.

Contributed by Janey Macleod (August 2005).

Eggplant Parmigiana

Photo © Veg World

Eggplant parmigiana (also known as aubergine parmigiana) is a great vegetarian stand-by. It can be found on the menus of Italian restaurants throughout the world, and is always a good choice for people who strive to avoid meat. When well made, it is truly delicious.

A Neopolitan friend tells me that eggplant parmigiana originates in Naples (where it's known as parmigiana di melanzane), and that it's impossible to find the genuine article outside that city. That may be true, but don't let it you put you off. It's not at all difficult to make an excellent parmigiana recipe at home, and while the result might lack the authentic flavor of the Tyrrhenian Sea, it should certainly please your family and dinner guests.

I've collected several recipes for eggplant parmigiana (aubergine parmigiana) over the years, but this one is my favorite. It's relatively easy to prepare, and produces consistently good results. The quantities given here will make an excellent dinner dish for two.

Note that genuine parmesan cheese is never strictly vegetarian, as the manufacturing process involves the use of animal rennet. However, it's possible to find vegetarian alternatives - sometimes labeled 'parmesan-style cheese' - and while this is not completely authentic, it still produces excellent results. You could even make a vegan version of eggplant parmigiana by substituting vegan versions of mozzarella and parmesan.

Ingredients

Method

Oven: Pre-heat to 375F, 190C.

Start by salting and pressing the eggplant (aubergine). You need to do this several hours before you start the main part of the preparation. Cut the eggplant into ¼-inch (½ cm) slices, and arrange these on a large plate. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt. Place another plate on top, and then place something heavy on top of that (I use three or four heavy books).

When you are ready to start cooking, wash the eggplant thoroughly and dry with a paper towel. Coat each slice with a little flour, and fry it for a few minutes in the heated olive oil.

Next, arrange half the slices of eggplant at the bottom of an oven-proof dish. Pour on half the tomato sauce along with the basil, then add a layer of half of each of the cheeses. Repeat the process with another layer of eggplant, tomato and cheese, ending with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, removing the lid about ten minutes before serving.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.