Being a vegetarian is a personal choice that opens up a world of delicious recipes that can tantalize your taste buds. One such dish is Eggplant Parmigiana, a baked delight that can be prepared with chicken, plain mozzarella, or, for vegetarians, aubergines (eggplants).
Before you begin the cooking process, it’s important to remove excess water from the aubergine slices. To do this, layer the eggplant slices with salt and let them rest for about an hour. Then, squeeze out the water.
Traditionally, Parmigiana doesn’t require many spices besides salt. The flavors mainly come from the protein source, cheese, and tomato sauce.
While the aubergines are releasing their water, start making the tomato sauce:
- Finely chop half an onion and sauté it in sunflower oil until transparent.
- Process two cans of blanched and chopped tomatoes using a food mill directly into the pot.
- Add salt, white pepper, and optionally, basil (which should be removed once the sauce is ready).
Slice the mozzarella and ensure you have enough to cover a full layer in the baking dish. Grate around 250g of Parmesan cheese, or adjust the amount to your preference for a cheesy dish.
If desired, you can incorporate Ricotta cheese into the Parmigiana. Mix 500g of Ricotta with an egg, salt, and black pepper. The mixture may be sticky, so spread it carefully without displacing the other layered ingredients.
Layer the baking dish in the following order: tomato sauce, aubergine slices, mozzarella slices, and Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers until you’ve used all the ingredients or run out of space in the dish.
Before putting it in the oven, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top of the dish. Bake at 220°C for approximately 25 minutes.
To prevent sticking, consider greasing the baking dish if the tomato sauce doesn’t have sufficient oil. The cooking oil will prevent the dish from adhering to the surface.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing this traditional Italian dish:
- Use a glass dish if possible. If anything sticks, it will be easier to remove from a glass surface compared to steel or foil.
- The ingredient quantities can be adjusted based on your preferences. Some chefs prefer a generous amount of cheese, while others prefer a lighter touch.
- If you’re not a fan of aubergines, you can use mushrooms or baby marrows (zucchini) as a tasty alternative.
Embrace the flavors of this vegetarian delight and savor the rich and comforting Eggplant Parmigiana.