So it’s Parmigiana Di Melanzane tonight!

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I love eggplant and while in season it’s the best time to buy them to make some old favourites. On this lazy Sunday night I wanted the oven do the cooking for me. So I could not think of a better recipe than a Parmigiana Di Melanzane. This iconic recipe has been claimed by the Sicilians in Catania, a town on the east coast of the island, dominated by the presence of Mount Etna, the tallest active European volcano. The eggplant locally known as petronciana forms the basis of many of Sicily’s dishes.

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It is said that the humble eggplant arrived with the Arabs but not fully accepted as edible until sixteenth century. I start by cooking eggplant slices in batches, until lightly browned. Then remove and drain them on a paper towel. Put tomatoes in  a shallow pan and cook over high heat constantly stirring until it thickens. This should not take more than 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, you can also add a little sugar if the sauce is too acidic.

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Spread your tamato sauce on the bottom of an ovenproof dish, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of Parmesan, a pitch of pepper, salt and 3 tablespoons of basil leaves. Assemble your first layer of eggplant slices, sprinkle your chopped hard boiled eggs and cover with tomato sauce. From here build two more layers with the same ingredients. On the last layer top by adding diced plum tomatoes and three  tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs.

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Finally beat two eggs with Parmesan and pour the mixture over the eggplant. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Now sit back and enjoy this dish, preferably with a nice rocket and fig salad. If you look hard enough out your window you may get lucky and see the top of Mount Etna!

Recipe (serves 4)

  • 4 medium eggplants
  • 2 tbsp of sea salt
  • 600 ml of olive oil
  • 4 plum roma tomatoes, diced
  • pinch of sugar
  • 200g of grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 bunch of basil leaves
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • black pepper
  • 3 tbsp of dry breadcrumbs

Tips

The eggplant slices must be cooked first in batches for about 10 minutes before laying them in your ovenproof dish. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Bake for at least 1/2 hour or until your Parmigiana Di Melanzane is golden brown and bubbling. Serve the dish straight from the oven, don’t waste any time as it must be served warm.

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