Eggplants Parmiciana

("Melenzane alla Parmiciana" - "Milinciani a Parmiciana")

 

 Parma, the cheese capital of Italy, is the only place where the famous Parmesan cheese is made.
The whey, which is by-products of the cheese making, is utilized with the acorn to feed the pigs, used in the production of the worldwide famous Prociutto di Parma, the cotechinos and other special salami. The optimal climate beneficial to the curing of the pork products and the aging of the cheese has also made Parma and the neighboring areas an ideal location for the production of concentrated tomatoes which they are the biggest producers of the world.
The cuisine of Parma offers gourmet dishes like tortellini stuffed with squash or with aromatic herbs, cappelletti, small ravioli stuffed with meat, Celery alla Parmigiana, cooked with butter and a sauce made from concentrate, Cutlets alla Parmigiana, Trippa alla Parmigiana, cooked in a light sauce made with concentrated tomato and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
When in Parma, enjoy the specialties offered by the Parmesan cuisine but if you ask for eggplants alla Parmigiana you will be surprised to learn that this dish is unknown not only in Parma but in the entire region.
The Eggplant parmiciana is an old Sicilian dish, made in Sicily when the eggplants were introduced from the Middle East. The Persians fried the baadenjaan, the eggplants, cooked it with the kashky, a thick whey, then sprinkled them with mint.
In Sicily, the eggplants were fried, covered with a grated tuma, a fresh cheese, sprinkled with the abundantly available basil; before being baked they were layered one on top of the other like the parmiciane, which are the horizontal slats used in making the outside shutters called Persian blinds or persiennes, hence the name Eggplants alla Parmiciana.
When in the 17th century the tomato was accepted as an edible vegetable the eggplant parmiciana were made in the simple way they are served today: fried eggplants covered with tomato sauce, basil and grated pecorino cheese.

The name was incorrectly translated from Sicilian to Italian and transformed to Parmigiana

 

 

  Melenzane Parmiciana 

 

 

SERVES 4 TO 6 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggplants peeled and sliced ½ inch thick, lengthways
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 28 oz. can of peeled tomatoes, remove seeds and chop
  • 15 leaves basil
  • 3 tablespoons of Pecorino grated cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

PREPARATION 

The Eggplants

Place eggplants in a colander, salt lightly and set aside for 20 minutes. 
Rinse the sliced eggplant, and drain for a few minutes. Gently pat dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
In a skillet, heat ½ cup of olive oil over a medium flame and fry the eggplants until golden brown. Place fried eggplants on paper towels to drain the oil.
If you prefer to grill them, brush both sides with oil and cook until tender, about 3 minutes on each side. The eggplants can also be baked at 400 degrees, cooking them about 4 minutes on each side. 
Place cooked eggplant in trays.

 

The Tomato Sauce

In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium flame and sauté the garlic. When golden brown remove it and discard.
Add the chopped tomato and cook for 15 minutes. If sauce becomes to dry add some water. Taste for salt and pepper, tear and add 5 basil leaves and set on side.

 

The Parmiciana

Place a few tablespoons of sauce in an 11” X 7” pan and place the fried eggplants in layers, covering each layer with tomato sauce, a sprinkle of cheese and a few basil leaves, continue until all ingredients are finished.
Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Garnish with basil leaves.

 

P.S.:

A suggestion offered by my niece Marzia Fiorilla will transforms this recipe into a simpler and appetizing antipasto or an excellent side dish.  

Fry or grill the eggplants as per above recipe, sprinkle each slice with salt and pepper, cover with dry tomato and sliced cheese.  

When ready to serve, bake for 15 minutes at 375 and Garnish with fresh basil leaves: delicious! 

 

Eggplants alla Marzia

 

NOTE

If making the tomato sauce with vine ripe tomatoes: blanch 12 tomatoes in boiling water, when they are cool remove the skin, some seeds and chop them. Then follow above directions.