Eggplant Parmesan is one of the most famous and loved recipes of the Italian cuisine.
Today I want to show you the recipe for Sicilian style eggplant parmesan.
Sicilian style eggplant parmesan has two characteristics that differentiate it from other versions:
- The eggplants are fried “in purity”, that is, without dipping them in egg, flour or breadcrumbs.
It is important, however, that they are salted for at least an hour.
- Sicilian parmesan is made up of a few simple ingredients: only eggplants, tomato sauce and basil and a sprinkling of cheese (grated parmesan or caciocavallo cheese).
Today I share my family recipe for eggplant parmesan – Sicily style.
The one my grandmother used to make, the one my mother makes and the one I inherited.
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- 4 Eggplants
- 800g Tomato pulp
- 1/4 Onion
- 1 Garlic clove
- 10 Basil leaves
- 80g Parmesan cheese
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Olive oil (for frying)
- Salt & Pepper
- To prepare eggplant parmesan according to the traditional Sicilian recipe, start by washing the eggplants well.
- Dry them and cut them into not too thin slices (5mm).
- As you cut them, place them in a colander and sprinkle them with a little fine salt. Form layers, sprinkling each layer with salt.
- Then take a weight (such as a large pot full of water) and place it on top of the eggplant, so that it keeps it well pressed down. Underneath the colander place a plate and leave the eggplant to drain for at least an hour. (1*)
- While the eggplants are purging you can prepare the sauce: finely chop the onion and cut the garlic in half, removing the central part. Fry the garlic and onion in 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
- When the onion has become transparent, add the tomato pulp, a pinch of salt and pepper, and close the pot with the lid. Let it cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, then turn off the heat and remove the garlic.
- After an hour, remove the weight from the eggplants, squeeze them one by one and rinse them under water to remove the salt.
- Then dry them carefully with a clean cloth .
- Heat plenty of olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan, then fry the eggplant a few at a time for about 3 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
- When they are just golden, drain them well and let them dry on a sheet of kitchen paper that will absorb the excess oil.
- While they are still hot, salt them lightly.
- Spread the bottom of an ovenproof dish with a ladleful of tomato sauce.
- Arrange the fried eggplant next to each other without overlapping. Cover with a generous amount of tomato sauce garnished with fresh basil leaves.
- Cover everything with abundant grated cheese. Continue forming another layer of eggplant and tomato seasoned with basil and Parmesan cheese, until all the ingredients are used up.
- Preheat the oven to 180° and bake the eggplant parmigiana for about 30 minutes in static mode.
- At the end of cooking, if the surface has not yet taken color, you can briefly turn on the grill.
- Take the parmigiana out of the oven and let it cool.
Now that all the ingredients are ready you can assemble your Sicilian style eggplant parmigiana.
The Parmesan is ready!
1* You will see that from the colander will come out some dark liquid, that is the water contained in the eggplants themselves. This step of salting the eggplants, although a bit boring, is very important for two reasons: first because it allows you to eliminate the possible bitter aftertaste of the eggplants themselves.
In this way the eggplants will lose their water and will be less spongy, thus absorbing less oil during cooking.
Eggplant Parmesan On A Plate
In Sicily there is an even simpler version of the classic eggplant parmesan described here.
And it does not require cooking in the oven: a sauce is prepared with fresh tomatoes and the eggplants, previously fried, are arranged directly on the plate, forming layers with the tomato sauce and basil and the cheese.
Variations To The Classic Parmigiana
In some Italian regions they fry the eggplants in flour and egg, and in other regions they add ham and boiled eggs in the layers.
How To Store And Freeze
You can store the eggplant parmesan in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
If you need to prepare them well in advance, you can also prepare the parmigiana and arrange it in the baking dish, then freeze it.
You can then cook it while still frozen, increasing the cooking time by at least 15 minutes.
If, on the other hand, you have leftovers already cooked, you can freeze it and then thaw it in the microwave or in the oven.