August 8, 2020
1 hour 15 minutes
Classic Italian Melanzane alla Parmigiana
Melanzane alla parmigiana is one of those Italian classics I believe everyone should try at least once in their lives. The delicious tomato sauce paired with that gooey melted cheese never fails to amaze. Every time I make this dish for friends or family it’s a hit!
Melanzane alla parmigiana has a rich and disputed Italian history. This classic Italian dish's origin is highly debated, with Sicily, Naples and Parma all claiming it is originally from their cities. If you're interested in learning more about the history of this dish, check out this fascinating article by La Cucina Italiana. Wherever it came from, I think one opinion is universal: it's absolutely delicious.
There are lots of versions of this dish, with each chef putting their own little twist on the classic. I like to make my own tomato sauce to keep it an all-natural and relatively healthy dish. Depending on what I feel like, I will add ground chicken or beef, but it works just as well as a vegetarian dish.
(serves 4 people)
1 kg cherry tomatoes (pro tip: choose the most ripe tomatoes)
2 red onions (or 1 large)
1 clove of garlic
+- 300 ml of broth (chicken or beef, vegetable for vegetarian version)
500 g of ground chicken or beef (optional)
3 large eggplants
250 g mozzarella
100 g parmesan cheese (grated)
Basil (fresh if possible)
Oregano (fresh if possible)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
How to Prepare
Begin with the sauce:
For the best results, make your tomato sauce the day before or at least a couple of hours in advance. But if that's not possible, don't worry! You can also make it on the spot.
1. Dice the red onions and garlic. Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut into halves.
2. In a sauce pan, heat a little bit of olive oil on high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté.
3. Add the halved cherry tomatoes.
4. Once the cherry tomatoes have become juicier, add the broth. Depending on the amount of juice the tomatoes release you might need more or less broth.
5. Add some pepper, salt, oregano and basil.
6. Let the sauce sit for a while on high heat, until the sauce starts to lightly boil. Then turn the heat down to medium. Be sure to stir regularly so that the ingredients at the bottom do not stick to your pan
7. On low to medium heat, let the sauce simmer for at least 15 minutes. For the best results, let the sauce simmer for 1 – 2 hours on low heat.
8. (Optional) In a separate pan, cook your mince meat until golden brown. Add the meat to your sauce and let simmer.
Sweat your eggplants:
1. Cut your eggplants into slices.
2. Place each slice on a flat surface and sprinkle some salt over them. (I use Amanprana's Fleur de Sel, but any kind of salt will do the trick.)
3. Let the eggplants sweat for at least 20 minutes.
4. Blot the slices dry with a paper towel and remove the salt.
5. Grill each slice of eggplant in a grill pan. I do not grease my pan, but you can with olive oil if preferred.
6. Set the grilled slices aside.
Assemble your delicious dish:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
2. In an oven dish, spread out a layer of your sauce (approx ¼ th of all your sauce).
3. Arrange ⅓ of the eggplant slices as a layer in your oven dish. On top of the eggplant, add ⅓ of the mozzarella slices.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 twice, adding two layers to the oven dish, and end with a layer of sauce on the top.
5. Finish the dish off with a layer of parmesan cheese.
6. Place in the oven for about 25 – 30 minutes. Serve with some fresh basil.
Type of Dish:
1 hour 15 minutes
More Food for Thought...
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