Italy – Parmigiana
What’s cooking in Italy?
Claudia is born in Geneva but her family is from Naples in the South of Italy. Her father came to Geneva to help during the wine harvest and her family stayed here. Claudia is an excellent cook and I have been lucky to taste quite a few of her dishes already. Some of her dishes are classical dishes, and some are re-invented by her, inspired by Italian cuisine. An example of her own invented dishes is her eggplant cannelloni: rolled up eggplant with ricotta inside, tomato sauce on top and cooked in the oven. Yum! Cooking in Italy is a family affair. Claudia’s family gathers at least once a year to cook their pasta sauce all together. They stock it up in jars and then have their homemade sauce for months to come. Claudia learned everything she knows about Italian cuisine from her mother, who learned from her grandmother, but her mother has already adapted many of the family’s recipes to her own liking. I am happy Claudia wanted to share this classical Parmigiana recipe with us!
Italian food culture:
Italian food is known worldwide! Delicious pasta, vitello tonnato, pizza, and of course the Italian ice-cream, just to name a few. Claudia says there are variations of dishes, even of the classical ones, and that goes for Parmigiana as well. Some people grill the eggplant before frying it, and Claudia first puts the eggplant slices in flour and then battered eggs before she fries them. She says this may be the Napolitan way to make the Parmigiana. In any case, in Italy, Parmigiana can either be eaten as a main course, with salad on the side, or as a side dish.
Cooking time: about an hour and a half, so good to prepare when you have time.
Ingredients for 6 persons:
- 1 kilo of eggplant
- Tomato sauce, we used 1 big jar of tomato sauce of 800 gr and one small jar of 400 gr.
- 4 eggs
- 150 gr of flour
- Origan dried herbs
- Italian dried herbs
- Olive oil
- Frying oil (sunflower or other)
- Fresh basil leaves
- Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese, 250 gr
- 3 mozzarellas
- 1 Onion
- Garlic (optional)
- Lots of paper towels
How to prepare:
- Claudia peels the skin of the eggplant. In Italy she doesn’t because the eggplants are more tender than here.
- Cut them into slices of approximately half a centimeter thick.
- Put them on an oven tray covered with a sheet of paper towel and put salt on them so that they will get rid of some liquid, which makes them taste less bitter.
- When her tray is full, Claudia puts a next layer of paper towel on the eggplant slices and continues to salt them and then another layer of paper towel until all the eggplant is on there.
- Already after 10 minutes or so, you will see that the slices of eggplant are ‘sweating’.
- In the meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot to heat.
- Chop up your onion, and start frying it until nicely browned. In case you like garlic, you can also add that to your liking and fry it all together.
- You then add the tomato sauce, some salt and dried oregano, and dried Italian herbs if you have some, all according to your own taste.
- Bring the sauce to boil and once it boils put it on low temperature to keep it warm until the end of the recipe. Claudia adds 2 leaves of fresh basil to the sauce for taste.
- Start rinsing the salt of the slices of eggplant, and put them on new sheets of paper towel to dry them a bit. Do not push on them.
- Mix up 4 eggs in a bowl and prepare a separate plate with the flour on it.
- Put some sunflower oil in your frying pan to heat it up. Not too little and not too much oil. It does need to fry.
- One by one you dip your eggplant slices in the flour and then you dip them in the battered eggs mixture and put them in your frying pan.
- Fry each slice of eggplant, turn them until nicely browned on both sides and put the fried ones aside on a plate until you are all done.
- In the meanwhile, cut the mozzarellas into small cubes.
- Wash off some basil leaves, as much as you like, Claudia puts in approximately 5.
- Preheat your oven at 180 degrees
- When all your eggplant slices have fried, you are ready to layer your Parmigiana, like a lasagna.
- Start by putting in a thin layer of tomato sauce.
- Then put in your first layer of eggplant slices.
- Put sauce on it again, and then Parmigiano cheese, and a bit of the mozzarella cubes.
- Then you are ready for the next layer: eggplant, tomato sauce, Parmigiano cheese and mozzarella cubes.
- After the second layer Claudia adds the fresh basil leaves and continues her layers until she is all done.
- End with the sauce and mozzarella cubes on top.
- You now put your Parmigiana in the oven for about 45 minutes.
Tip: Parmigiana tastes even better the next day, so if you can prepare it one day ahead it will even be better, it will allow the eggplant to soak up some of the sauce and makes it less liquid.
While we are cooking Claudia and her husband also talk about how they both used to eat ‘Pasta alla Vodka’. Something I may try out as well sometimes. 😊 Just like Claudia’s own invented eggplant cannelloni who also sound delicious!
Thank you Claudia for sharing your Parmigiana recipe with us! We loved it and will definitely make it again at home!