Friday, June 4, 2010

Melanzane parmigiana (Baked eggplant with parmesan)

Melanzane parmigiana

There's a certain vegetable that always calls out to me in the greengrocer. Its' shiny aubergine skin tempting me to pick it up and say, "This one's coming home with me!" I simply can't resist buying eggplants. One or two always seem to end up in my shopping basket. 

Melanzane parmigiana

My use of this unusual vegetable over the years has changed just as much as I've changed the name I call it. I used to call them aubergines in England, melitzana in Greece and brinjals in South Africa. From making brinjal curry in Durban, to moussaka in Athens and now to melanzane parmigiana in Sydney! 

Melanzane parmigiana

I loved ordering this vegetarian dish in Italian restaurants so much that I decided that I had to learn how to make it myself. It's basically layers of grilled or fried aubergine slices, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and parmesan. It's then baked for about half an hour and best eaten hot with crusty bread and a salad or olives on the side.

Melanzane parmigiana

I have read quite a number of recipes for melanzane parmigiana and there are various versions of this dish. This recipe is my interpretation of what I have read and tasted.

Melanzane parmigiana


You will need:
• 2 large firm eggplants
• olive oil
• 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
• 2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes or 1kg fresh ripe tomatoes
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a large handful of fresh basil
• 4 large handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 large ball of buffalo mozzarella

Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1cm wide slices. Place the slices in a colander, sprinkling them with sea salt and cover with a plate with a heavy object on top. Leave aside for about an hour. This helps to remove some of the moisture and bitterness from the eggplants. Rinse the eggplants well after an hour, removing all the salt. Fry in hot oil till lightly browned or brush with olive oil and grill on both sides.

In the meanwhile prepare the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic and dried oregano and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has a tiny bit of colour. If you’re using tinned tomatoes, break them up, and if you’re using fresh tomatoes (which will taste sweeter and more delicious, if they’re in season), very quickly prick each one and put them into a big pan of boiling water for 40 seconds. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put them into a bowl of cold water for 30 seconds, then remove the skins, carefully squeeze out the pips and cut up the flesh. Add the tomato flesh or tinned tomatoes to the onion, garlic and oregano. Give the mixture a good stir, then put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly for 15 to 20 minutes till reduced and thick. Add in the chopped fresh basil. Season with pepper. Be careful with the amount of salt you add as you may need to add a lot less if you had salted the eggplants prior to frying or grilling.

In an ovenproof dish put in a small layer of tomato sauce, then a thin scattering of Parmesan, followed by a single layer of aubergines and slices of the buffalo mozzarella. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little sauce, mozzarella and another good sprinkling of Parmesan.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180º C (fan-assisted oven) for about half an hour until the surface is golden brown.

Eat hot with crusty bread.


  1. I love eggplant took me years to finally start eating it, but now I will order it over any other parm....
    thanks for sharing your recipe!

  2. Thanks! I've created this recipe having read quite a few others. I find this combination of mozzarella, parmesan, eggplant and tomato delicious.

  3. I love eggplant parmesan too! Yours looks like perfection.

  4. I adore the baked eggplants too, but usually with a combination of Parmesan and Emmentaler or Gruyere. Must try the Mozzarella next time.

  5. Oh I have got to try this recipe! I bought an eggplant for the first time in my life yesterday. I am actually excited to cook it. I am not a big fan of eggplants but decided to try it again to see if I like it now. This looks so good.

  6. My melanzane parmigiana made the Foodbuzz Top 9 today! The Foodbuzz Top 9 is a photo-driven collection of top-buzzed posts within the Foodbuzz community. Am well chuffed! Thanks to my brilliant husband for the fantastic photos!

  7. This is totally beautiful. Congrats on Top 9. GREG

  8. You've inspired me to run out to the store and buy eggplants! I was thinking of making lasagna tonight but this looks much more interesting. Thanks!

  9. Ohh, I just saw somehing that made me very happy on your blog! The cookies on the top..looks EXACTLY as the ones that my grandma used to bake when I was little. Great memories :)

  10. Linn, those cookies are the type I grew up with as well...although my mum lives in South Africa,across the world from Sweden. It's wonderful how food can bring us together!