Eggplant parmigiana is a traditional Italian dish, among the most popular and iconic you can find in Italy, and this is the real deal. Use ripe eggplants without seeds and salt them for 1 hour to remove the bitterness.
1.2kg eggplant, 3 to 5 total, sliced lengthways 5mm thick
plain flour, for dredging
1.2 litres vegetable oil for deep frying
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, halved
1.4 litres tomato passata or crushed plum tomatoes
8 basil leaves
200g grated Parmesan cheese
650g mozzarella or scamorza cheese, sliced
salt, to taste
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Directions Preparation:30min › Cook:1hour › Extra time:1hour › Ready in:2hours30min
Eggplant: Place a few eggplant slices in a colander, making a single layer then sprinkle with coarse salt and cover with a second layer. Proceed the same way, ending with salt.
Place a weight on top (for instance, a dish filled with some heavy tomato tins or similar) to place pressure on the eggplants. Place the colander on a plate and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Rinse eggplant slices under the tap, removing the salt. Pat dry on all sides.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Dredge the eggplant slices in flour on both sides. Add a few slices to the hot oil, working in batches. Deep fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side, till golden, then remove and drain on paper towel.
Tomato Sauce: In a large saucepan on low heat cook garlic and onion in oil for a few minutes, without burning. Add the passata, salt and half of the basil. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring often.
Remove sauce from heat. Discard the garlic, and stir in the remaining basil.
To Assemble: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Spread a layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of a baking dish. Cover with a single layer of eggplant slices. Top with more sauce, mozzarella slices and grated Parmesan. Continue making layers, three to five in total, finishing with tomato sauce and then grated Parmesan for the last layer.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 20 minutes before serving. Even better if served the following day!
Make sure the eggplants are dried well, otherwise they won't get crisp while frying and will instead soak up oil like a sponge.