I have been on holiday in Italy, in my Mum’s birth place for over two weeks now, and although I have been coming here every summer since I was born, I cannot seem to get used to the bounty of the local fresh produce and the Italianness of the local villagers, most of whom are distant cousins!
A few days ago, Mum’s friend Nicoletta, the village’s most loved seamstress, knocked at our door to deliver a wicker basket full of glistening, black aubergines, freshly picked from her garden. They were so plump and firm and felt so smooth and shiny, Mamma felt the urge to turn them into Parmigiana.
Never mind it was a boiling hot day…
This is what distinguishes me from my mum : she’s fearless in the kitchen. And everywhere else, for that matter…
First off, she washed and sliced the aubergines and sprinkled them with salt to help release some of their moisture.
This serves two purposes:
to get rid of any bitterness and to make sure that when you then deep-fry the slices, they stay dry and don‘t absorb too much oil.
While the salt was doing its trick, she made a simple tomato sauce, frying off a few bashed garlic cloves, skin on, basil and 1 chopped shallot in a little EVOO. She then added around 500 ml of homemade Passata (I give you allowance to use store bought!) and cook it on low for around 20 minutes and discarded the garlic and the wilted basil leaves.
She then dusted off the salt from the aubergine slices and squeezed them well to release any liquid. She then patted them dry with a paper towel and deep-fried them in EVOO, in small batches, until crispy. Normally she would have dusted the slices with plain four before frying, but these gleaming jewels were so fresh, she did’t want to alter their natural flavor and texture. They turned out perfectly golden and mouth-wateringly inviting…
At this stage the smell coming from the kitchen was intoxicating, I think I lost control of my senses for a minute… I had to stop myself stealthily stealing the aubergine chips resting on a platter…It wasn’t my fault; I was possessed by the Parmigiana demon!
All that was left to do then was to layer an over tray with the sugo (tomato sauce), then the aubergines and mozzarella. She topped it with another few layers of all the ingredients, dusted the top with grated Parmigiano and baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 Celsius (390 Fahrenheit).
As hard as it is, this dish is better served the next day, if you can wait that long…
4 Comments Add yours
Beautiful dish. This is how my family always makes it.