It is the holy week and right now in the Philippines and other countries that practice the Catholic faith. During these times people start to abstain from any meat dishes which means only vegetables and seafood are to be consumed, to honour that practice this week will be Lenten dishes week and that means I will only post vegetable and seafood dishes. So lets start with something satisfying so you won’t crave for something meaty, let me present to you the Eggplant parmigiana.
Parmigiana is a Southern Italian dish made out of fried sliced filling layered with mozzarella cheese, parmigiano cheese and tomato sauce then baked. Usually it is made with meat cutlets such as chicken and veal but earliest version calls for aubergines (eggplant).
The origins of this dish have several theories behind it, First it was believed that this dish originated in Parma in Northern Italy, and it was evident from its name as Parmesan refers to the city of Parma and the Parmesan cheese is from Parma. Another theory suggests that it originated in Campania region and within that region there are a lot of suggestions, some say that the name came from the word damigian a sleeve made of wicker where wine bottles are placed, or in this case, the hot casserole. Others also say that the dish has nothing to do with parmigiano cheese but derives from the Sicilian palmigiana (take note of the spelling), which means shutters as that’s how the dish looks like when cooked.
For this version we will not fry the eggplants instead we will be grilling it to have a deeper flavour as well as reducing the oil as eggplants absorbs oil really well. A very good and filling dish, imagine lasagne without the meat, though I can’t say that this is healthier (just look at that cheese) this is a good meal to serve for those who do not eat meats or even for a carnivorous like me
3 eggplant, thinly sliced
1 cup bread crumbs
1 can chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 large white onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter
freshly ground black pepper
1. In a sauce pan sauté half of garlic and onions in olive oil, cook until onions are soft.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, basil and oregano. Simmer for 5 minutes then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. In a stove top grill add small amount of olive oil then lightly grill eggplant slices (do not fully cook) then set aside.
4. In the same pan, add the butter then sauté the remaining garlic, once golden brown in colour add the bread crumbs and pan fry until crispy. Remove from pan then set it aside.
5. In a baking dish spread some tomato sauce at the bottom then place a layer of eggplant slice. Scoop some sauce on the top, sprinkle with mozzarella parmesan then top it again with another layer, repeat the steps until you have three layers.
6. In a 180C preheated oven bake eggplants for 30 minutes or until top turns golden brown.
7. Place in a serving plate then sprinkle with crispy bread crumbs on top.