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Author Notes: The name of this dish is derived from parmiciana which means “shutters” in reference to overlapping slices of aubergine resembling the overlapping wood in shutters. Aubergine Parmesan is even better the next day and is very good cold. It can be served as a starter, a side dish, or on it's own as a first or second course. Traditional recipes often call for slices hard-boiled egg to be layered with the cheese. —woo wei-duan
Serves: 4 main course or 6 starter/side dish
large aubergine (1 kilo)
tins (400 gms each) skinned plum tomatoes, drain, deseed, and chop
red onion, trim end, skin, and finely chop
grams plain flour
milliliters olive oil for frying
grams mozzarella, tear into thumb sized pieces, and strain
grams parmigiano-reggiano cheese, finely grate
egg, hard-boil, shell, and slice (optional)
Black pepper, freshly ground
- Trim the stem and slice the aubergine lengthwise into 5 mm thick slices. If the aubergine has large seeds, sprinkle it with 2 teaspoons of the salt and leave in a colander over a bowl to drain for 1 to 2 hours.
- Place the tomato, 4 basil leaves, and the onion in a sauce pan.
- Heat the sauce pan over medium heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Puree the sauce with a food mill or blend in a blender or with a hand blender.
- Heat the oven to 180 C.
- Place a wire rack over top of a baking tray.
- Place the aubergine in a kitchen towel and squeeze dry.
- Dredge the aubergine in the flour to coat lightly. Heat a frying pan with olive oil at 2 cm depth until when you sprinkle in a bit of flour bubbles form immediately. Ensure that the oil is hot otherwise the aubergine will absorb the oil and become soggy and heavy. Turn when golden, about 2 minutes each side.
- Fry the aubergine in batches, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan or the aubergine will become heavy. Remove the aubergine when done to drain on the metal rack, preferably in a single layer. Let drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Line a 20 cm x 25 cm baking pan with ⅓ of the aubergine, slightly overlapping the pieces. Dot the aubergine with the mozzarella. Sprinkle 1 grams (1 tablespoon) of the Parmigiano-Reggiano over top and then spoon ¼ of the tomato sauce over the top.
- Layer ⅓ of the aubergine over the tomato sauce, repeat with the remaining half of the mozzarella, sprinkle 10 grams (1 tablespoon) of the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top, dot the next layer with 8 basil leaves, add the sliced hard-boiled egg if using, and spoon another ¼ of the tomato sauce over top.
- Layer the last ⅓ of the aubergine over top and cover with the last ½ of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano over top.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Drain off any liquid or oil which has formed during baking.
- Let the dish cool for at least half an hour before serving but it is also very good cold or room temperature.
- Note: For children, I often separately boil some short pasta like penne or rigatoni and chop up some of the aubergine parmesan and toss with the pasta to serve.