The end of summer always is a bit emotional, especially when you realize that you are not in Italy anymore and cannot have pasta & parmigiana with a view of the ocean anymore. Bringing the view home is a bit tricky but what we can do is bringing the food home in order to hold on onto the holidays for as long as possible.
And trust me, this dish is at least as good as in Italy. Soft eggplant with creamy tomato sauce and lots of goey molten cheese. If there is something like (healthy) comfort heaven – it is this recipe!! Perfect for cozy fall evenings when you just want something to comfort you but also perfect as a side when you have got some friends over for lunch! Plus: you can easily prepare it and then only place it in the oven and voilà!
What is Parmigiana?
Parmigiana (alla melanzane) is a very typical Italian dish that originated in the South of Italy (there are several regions claiming to have invented it). Typically it is made with fried slices of eggplant layered with tomato sauce and cheese and then baked in the oven. In Italy you can find it on most menus as a Primi Piatto (first course) or as a contorno (side dish).
What is special about this dish?
This recipe version of it is an easier and a bit healthier one than the original. The main difference is that we do not deep fry the eggplant before layering but only roast them a little in a pan. This does not only make it healthier (because way less fat is used) but it also makes the preparation of this dish much easier and simpler.
Is this dish healthy?
It definitely can be said that this is a dish providing many nutrients. Both, the tomato sauce and the eggplant are sources of fibre, vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals. The olive oil accounts for a decent dose of healthy fats. The mozzarella and parmesan provide a healthy dose of protein. This though comes with a dose of saturated fats too – which is not the healthiest – but you know what? A little cheese never hurt nobody!
Perfect side or comfort food!
As previously mentioned, in Italy you can mostly find this dish as an Appetizer and sometimes as a side. Making this as an appetizer is a great idea because you can prepare and layer everything (except for the final cheese layer) and set it aside. Before your guests are coming, you can just sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and parmesan and bake it. Just make sure not to make too much because it is quite filling. In summer we also love making it as a side dish for pur barbecues because it is a great way to have some veggies and also is it a vegetarian choice for all those who do not want to have any meat.
Finally, which is our preferred way of having it, you can make it as a main dish. Basically like lasagna, just without pasta sheets and a bit different. Place the skillet on the table and let everyone dig into this goodness. It won’t take long until everything is gone!
Easy as pie
Making this is super easy. All that needs to be done comes down to very few and easy steps. First you need to slice the eggplant into about 0,5-1cm thick slices before frying them in a little olive oil for 2-3 minutes per side. In the meantime you can already make the tomato sauce for which you just need to sauté some finely chopped onions and garlic in hot oil before adding canned, crushed tomatoes. To make it even easier: use a store bought tomato sauce and skip this step!
The last thing you need to prepare is the cheese: grate the parmesan and roughly chop the mozzarella! That already is it with the preparations and now comes the fun part. Start by adding a layer of eggplant slices into a pan or another oven safe dish. On top goes some tomato sauce, a little mozzarella and a little parmesan. Then repeat it (about 1-2x approximately) until you have used everything up. Now into the oven it goes, for about 25-30 minutes and voilà!
Anyone who likes eggplants and Italian flavours should try this. Like lasagna, just a little bit healthier and vegetarian. A staple in our house and it is soo good!!
If you try it I would love to know how you like it!
Healthy Authentic Italian Eggplant Parmigiana (super easy!)
A classic Italian dish made in a way that is a bit healthier than the regular one – yet, at least as delicious! Easy, healthy and tasty and soso comforting!
What you will need
- 2 eggplants
- 500 ml canned tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Italian herbs
- olive oil
- 250 g mozzarella cheese
- 75 g parmesan cheese
Remove the both ends of the eggplant, then slice them into about 0,5-1cm thick slices lengthwise. Place them on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. Let them sit for about 30 minutes. This will help remove the water from the eggplants. Then take a paper towel, remove the water that has run out and pat them dry.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
In the meantime peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, either by hand or in a food processor. In a pan heat up some olive oil and fry the onion and garlic in there for about a minute. Add the canned, crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and Italian herbs and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering the cheese can be prepared. Grate the parmesan cheese and roughly chop the Mozzarella.
Heat up about 2 more tbsp of olive oil in a pan and fry the eggplants for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Take out and set aside.
Take an oven safe dish and place one layer of the fried eggplant at the bottom. Cover with tomato sauce, half of each, the parmesan and the mozzarella cheese on top, then repeat. At the end, it should all be covered with parmesan cheese.
Now, place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the top.
Have fun cooking
Katie // Une Petite Cuisinière