Delight in the sumptuous flavors of Aubergine à la Parmigiana, a comforting and heartwarming dish that pays homage to Italian cuisine. Layers of tender roasted eggplant, tangy tomato sauce, and gooey melted cheese create a culinary masterpiece perfect as a vegetarian main course or a delectable side dish. Embrace the richness and comfort of this Italian-inspired recipe that pairs beautifully with pasta or crusty bread.
How to Make a Fruit Pizza:
History and Origins of the Recipe:
Aubergine à la Parmigiana, also known as Eggplant Parmesan, is a beloved classic in Italian cuisine. Hailing from the Campania region of Southern Italy, this dish highlights the versatility of eggplant—a vegetable commonly featured in Mediterranean cooking. The origins of this recipe trace back to the 18th century when tomatoes were introduced in Italian cuisine, eventually becoming a staple ingredient in this iconic dish.
Tools Needed, Serving Size, Cooking Time:
- Baking dish
- Large skillet
- Paper towels
- Cutting board
Serving: 4-6 people
Cooking Time: Approximately 1 hour
- 2 large eggplants, sliced
- Salt for sweating the eggplant
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Eggplants: Substitute with zucchini for a variation in the dish while maintaining the layers and flavors.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Swap with provolone or fontina for a different but equally delicious melty cheese.
- Prepare Eggplants: Slice the eggplants into rounds, sprinkle salt, and let sit to draw out moisture. Rinse and pat dry.
- Preheat Oven: Set the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Prepare Sauce: Sauté onions and garlic, add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt, and pepper. Simmer for flavors to meld.
- Cook Eggplant: Brown eggplant slices in batches in a skillet with olive oil. Set aside.
- Assemble Layers: In a greased baking dish, layer tomato sauce, eggplant slices, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese, repeating until all ingredients are used. Top with cheese and sauce.
- Bake: Place in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Rest and Serve: Let it cool for a few minutes, garnish with fresh basil, and serve.
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them:
1. Soggy Eggplant Layers:
To prevent excess moisture in the dish, ensure the eggplant slices are thoroughly dried after salting to avoid a watery final result.
2. Overcrowding the Pan While Browning Eggplant:
Cook the eggplant slices in batches to ensure they brown evenly and have enough space in the pan for proper cooking.
3. Using Too Much Cheese or Sauce:
Layer the ingredients evenly, preventing an overpowering amount of cheese or sauce in one portion of the dish.
4. Not Allowing Rest Time:
Letting the dish cool for a few minutes after baking helps the layers set and makes it easier to serve without falling apart.
1. Can I use other types of cheese?
Absolutely! Experiment with various cheeses like provolone, fontina, or even a blend of different cheeses for a unique flavor.
2. Can I make this dish in advance?
Aubergine à la Parmigiana can be assembled ahead and refrigerated, then baked just before serving for convenience.
3. Can I omit the tomato paste?
While tomato paste adds depth, you can skip it or use a bit more crushed tomatoes for a similar effect.
4. How do I know when the dish is done baking?
The cheese should be golden and bubbly, and the layers should be heated through and cohesive.
5. Can I freeze leftovers?
Certainly! Wrap leftovers tightly in foil or an airtight container and freeze for up to three months for later enjoyment.
Celebrate the soulful flavors of Italian cuisine with Aubergine à la Parmigiana. This delightful, layered dish, with roasted eggplant, tangy tomato sauce, and melted cheese, offers a comforting and satisfying meal. Embrace the richness and tradition of Italian cooking with this flavorful recipe, perfect for a heartwarming meal or a delicious side dish for any occasion.