I’ve made it a habit to include a minimum of four vegetable colours each time I go grocery shopping. These minimum colours being green (lettuce/greens, parsley, zucchini, cucumber, asparagus, green peppers, green beans, snow/sugar snap peas), purple (eggplant), orange (carrots, orange peppers, yams) and red (red peppers, tomatoes). I pick other colours too, but this is the bare minimum.
I had my purple (eggplant) sitting in the fridge, but had made a baba ganoush the previous week, so I wanted to try something new. When you Google “eggplant”, one of the most common dishes you will find is a parmigiana. Parmigiana is a Southern Italian dish, that consists of eggplant, tomato sauce and cheese. The eggplant is pan-fried (either on its own, or brushed with egg whites and dipped in bread crumbs), and then these items are layered in a dish and baked. Many people falsely assume that the name of the dish refers to the dish using parmesan cheese, however this is not the case. (You can actually use any type of cheese with this dish.) Some countries have replaced the eggplant with different types of meat, and served this dish over pasta. In my opinion, doing so makes it an entirely different dish. (I’ve had a “Chicken Parmigiana”, and it tastes completely different from this classical dish.) As soon as I read the description of what this dish consisted of, I decided to give it a go! Of course, I had to add in my own little touches to make it my own, so here’s my recipe for an above average parmigiana! (To prevent confusion, I’ve titled it “Eggplant Parmigiana” so that no one is mistaken with the “parmigiana” dishes that contain meat. However, feel free to experiment with adding in chicken.) Enjoy! 😉
This recipe makes 4 servings.
- 1 medium-sized eggplant
- 3-4 egg whites
- about 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp EV olive oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 medium red onion
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup grated marble cheese
- About 1/4 cup chopped chives
- About 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Pre heat oven to 350 C
- Wash and slice eggplant in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into 1/4 inch slices. (note: if you don’t like the skins, you can easily cut them off.)
- Sprinkle the slices with salt, and layer in a paper towel lined bowl.
- Lightly brush each eggplant slice with egg whites, then dip in breadcrumbs.
- Pan fry on medium heat until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes (7 minutes per side). Note: you do not need to apply any oil to the pan, as the eggplant will act like a sponge and soak up and moisture as soon as it makes contact. This is also why it is important to sprinkle a small amount of salt on the eggplant prior to cooking it, as the salt will help to absorb some of the moisture that the eggplant holds in.
- Set aside in a paper towel lined bowl.
- Chop the parsley and chives.
- Mix the parsley and chives in a bowl with the grated cheese, and set aside.
- Pour the tomato sauce into a bowl.
- Finely dice the garlic and onion.
- In the frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, and then add the garlic, onions, paprika and cayenne pepper.
- Cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and onion mixture to the tomato sauce.
- Place the items in layers in a glass baking dish, starting with the eggplant, then the sauce, then the cheese. Repeat this for 2-3 layers, or until the eggplant is finished. Ensure that cheese is at the top of the final layer.
- Optional: before applying the final layer of cheese, sprinkle about 1 tbsp of breadcrumbs over the sauce.
- Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and turning a light golden brown on the top and the sauce is starting to bubble.
It’s hard to make parmigiana look pretty, but boy does it ever taste good! Here is a picture of the finished product, served with some asparagus and parmesan cheese, and mini whole wheat pitas. The asparagus was cooked with my long time go-to method of simply sautéing the washed and prepared asparagus stalks with either extra virgin olive oil or butter, a light sprinkle of salt, and cooking over medium heat until the asparagus is a bright green colour. If you cook the asparagus past this point, it will become “floppy”. This method is my favourite because it really helps bring out the flavour of the asparagus, rather than unnecessarily masking it.