I love this dish! It has all the flavours of a delicious Italian pasta dish with none of the pasta. Plus it’s grainfree, glutenfree and refined sugarfree! Watch out when ordering it in at a restaurant though as sometimes they mix in breadcrumbs to the cheese layer or they breadcrumb the aubergines before cooking them. Rather than take the risk I like to make my own and then I know exactly what’s gone into it. And in the case of this Melanzane Parmigiana, it’s extra extra extra cheese – three types to be exact!
So why three different types of cheese. Apart from the fact that cheese is one of the best food groups ever that you can never have enough of, there is more to it. The Parmesan provides the strong cheesy flavour, the ricotta gives a creaminess and the mozzarella melts and gives that delicious stringy cheese which is so prevalent Italian cooking.
So how do you go about making the Melanzana Parmigiana? There are quite a few steps to this recipe. First you need to make the tomato sauce. You can bypass this step and buy a pre-made tomato sauce but it’s so much nicer when it’s homemade.
Start by dicing the onions and slicing or crushing the garlic. Cook these in a saucepan on a medium heat with half a tablespoon of the olive oil until they are softened and browning. Then you add the tinned tomatoes, oregano and plenty of salt and pepper to season. Allow the tomato sauce to simmer slowly on the stove, (preferably for about an hour to infuse and concentrate all the flavours) until you are ready to assemble the Melanzane Parmigiana.
The next job is to cook the aubergines (eggplants). Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Slice them into rounds about 1/2 cm thick and arrange on baking sheets. Brush each piece with some oil (it will all soak in but don’t worry) and season well with salt and pepper. Pop into the oven for around 6-8 minutes and then flip each slice over. Brush the other side with oil and cook again for another few minutes on the other side. You want them to be softened and browning but not falling apart.
You should have lots of aubergine slices, so depending on how many baking trays you have you will need to repeat these steps quite a few times until all the slices are cooked. Once the aubergines are softened and browned, place them on a plate in layers with a piece of kitchen roll in-between each layer to soak up some of the oil.
Meanwhile you can prepare for the final assembly by grating the parmesan and slicing the mozzarella. Mix 1/2 of the grated Parmesan into the ricotta and keep the other half separate. Then you’re ready to start assembling the Melanzane Parmigiana. You need to arrange the various ingredients in layers like you would for a lasagne.
Start with a layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish and then add a layer of the cooked aubergine slices. Top with a layer of the ricotta Parmesan mixture. Then more tomatoes, more aubergines and this time a layer of the mozzarella slices. Then repeat the whole thing so that you end up with mozzarella on the top.
Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and pop the whole dish into the oven for around 30-40 minutes until the cheese on the top is melted and bubbling! Serve while it’s piping hot with a side of salad!
This is such a great dinner party dish which is why I make it in such huge portions. Also it freezes amazingly well so it’s a great one to make more than you need and freeze the extra portions for another night.
Dietary & Allergy Information for Melanzane Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmesan)
The Melanzane Parmigiana recipe is Grain-Free, Gluten-Free & Refined-Sugar Free. Also suitable for Paleo, Low Carb & Vegetarian diets.
See my Products Page for Ingredients & Bakeware that I recommend.