Sicilian Recipes

Aubergine parmigiana

Introduction. Not everyone knows that this typical Sicilian dish made with eggplants, cheese, tomato sauce and basil, has nothing to do with the city of Parma, nor with the Parmesan cheese. The misunderstanding arises from the Italianized form of the Sicilian term “parmiciana”: a window shutter made of stacked wood strips, introduced in Sicily by the Arabs and known as “persiana”. In this recipe the eggplant slices are layered just like the wood strips of a window shutter.

Ingredients serves 4. 1kg purple eggplant; 800g tomato pulp; ½ chopped onion; 200g caciocavallo or pecorino cheese, grated; handful of basil leaves; extra virgin olive oil and salt

How to prepare the sauce. In a saucepan, pour 4 tablespoons olive oil and brown the finely chopped onion over low heat for a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir and let it boil until the sauce thickens. Add the salt, a few leaves of basil, turn off the heat and let it cool.

How to prepare the eggplants. Leaving the peel intact, trim stem off the eggplants and slice them lengthwise to a thickness of about 1 cm. Place the slices in a bowl, sprinkling with salt to draw the bitter liquid out. After about 30 minutes, wash the eggplant slices and dry them thoroughly. In a large saute pan heat abundant oil and fry all the slices until they become golden brown on both sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

How to prepare the parmigiana. In a baking dish, spread a little of tomato and then top the sauce with a layer of eggplant slices by overlapping them like the wood strips of a “persiana”. Pour a few tablespoons of sauce, grated cheese, some basil leaves, and repeat until you have 3 layers. Finish with a generous layer of grated cheese and a little olive oil, then bake at 356°F (180°C) for 40 minutes until a golden crust forms on top. Serve warm.

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