I first realized how good Parmigiana was when I was 5 years old, sneaking in the kitchen while my Nonna was frying the eggplant. I would hide under the table and when she was distracted, I would grab one from the plate and run like a rabbit. It tasted like candy to me and I couldn’t resist them…and guess why? Because they were fried. In fact, frying eggplant makes them become sweet and creamy.
Growing up, I was concerned about the calories in this dish, but i would rather have a small amount of delicious freshly prepared food than a huge amount of bland food.
So I created these perfectly sized, round-shaped parmigiana that are the delicious and fulfilling.
Authentic Italian Tip: Serve it with grilled whole wheat crostini to dip in the sauce.
1 Large eggplant (sliced 1/2-inch rounds)
1 can San Marzano Tomatoes
4 Slices mozzarella (1/8 of an inch)
1/4 cup basil (finely chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil (for frying)
4 Tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano
2 Teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cans peeled San Marzano Tomatoes crushed by hand.
2 teaspoons salt
Frying the eggplant: Slice the eggplant into 6 pieces about 1/2-inch thick. Lightly season each round with salt and pepper and place aside.
In a skillet, fry the eggplant slices at 325º until the slices turn deep brown on the bottom. Flip them and continue frying until the other side is the same color, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the eggplant slices from the pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Let them cool.
Simple tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Do not burn!
Add the tomatoes and salt and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and let it rest.
Assembling and layering: Place a 6-inch diameter by 2-inch round metal shaping ring into a shallow pan and add a tablespoon of tomato sauce to the bottom.
Layer inside the ring adding a slice of eggplant, 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce, a teaspoon of basil, one slice of mozzarella and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon grated Parmigiano-Regiano.
Repeat the layering process using 3 slices of eggplant per ring.
Sprinkle some Parmigiano on the top.
Baking: Heat the oven to 350°. Put the layered eggplant in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Carefully transfer the eggplant to a plate and remove the metal ring.
Add a sprinkle of Parmigiano to the top and serve immediately with the grilled crostini.
Influenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.