The Traditional Neapolitan Parmigiana

Our heritage comes also from our Food traditions

The Parmigiana is one of the traditional Neapolitan dish. It can be done in many ways, fried one, twice, made in very local versions, with eggplants (the most common) or with zucchini.

During time, Naples has been conquered and ruled by different cultures, that brought into spices, vegetables, ingredients from all over the world, and of course their recipes. Eggplants arrived in Italy with the invasion of the Arabs in the fifteenth century.

The first literary discovery on eggplant comes from the city of Naples, a recipe in a book that is most similar to today’s recipe of eggplant parmigiana. The text dates back to 1839 and is written by Ippolito Cavalcanti, the title is ”Cusina casarinola co la lengua napolitana’‘.
We quote the words of this text: “And you will fry the eggplant and then arrange them in a layer-in-layer pan with the cheese, basil and stewed broth or with tomato sauce and covered will make you stew”. Eggplant parmigiana is in the history of this city.

During time, Naples has been conquered and ruled by different cultures, that brought into spices, vegetables, ingredients from all over the world, and of course their recipes. Eggplants arrived in Italy with the invasion of the Arabs in the fifteenth century.

The first literary discovery on eggplant comes from the city of Naples, a recipe in a book that is most similar to today’s recipe of eggplant parmigiana. The text dates back to 1839 and is written by Ippolito Cavalcanti, the title is “Cusina casarinola co la lengua napolitana“.

We quote the words of this text: “And you will fry the eggplant and then arrange them in a layer-in-layer pan with the cheese, basil and stewed broth or with tomato sauce and covered will make you stew“.

Eggplant parmigiana is in the history of this city.

The principle of this dish are eggplants, (or zucchini as a variant). They are been cutted thin, fried, and covered by layers with tomato sauce, mozzarella, garnished with basil.

Mind you, there are many versions out there. Some will coat the aubergines in flour and egg before frying (this version is used by many Neapolitans and I love it equally).

The Parmigiana di melanzane is everything you could ask for from a meal: simple and extremely tasty and delicious, a main and second dish in once. The wonderful taste of deep-fried aubergines, basil-flavoured passata and parmesan.
The End.

We grew up during summer with this dish, our Mamma Isa, cookes one unlist every week, and belive us waking up with this scent coming from the kitchen is sensational, and it’s a dish that gathered together an entiry family and more. The Parmigiana brings so much joy. It may sound a bit over the top, but you know what love is like, don’t you? Love is crazy, love is blind!

Below one of the most common and used recipes:

Ingredients for 4 people:

 

For the ragu’:

  • 1 purple onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 beef cheek
  • 2 Italian sausages
  • white wine
  • 1 bottle of passata
  • 2 cans of cherry tin tomatoes passed through a food mill (or blender)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Eggplants:

  • 5/6 eggplants
  • 3/4 eggs
  • 150 g of mozzarella (fiordilatte or Provola)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Oil for frying
  • Basil
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method:
To make the ragu’, cut the onions into small pieces letting it fry in a pot with olive oil and a clove of garlic. Let the onions cook until soft then add the beef cheek and the sausages. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes then add a splash of white wine. Once the wine has evaporated add the tomato tins and passata. Bring to the boil and add 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and a pinch of sugar. Let it simmer, covered, for 2-3 hours on low heat. An hour in, taste and season to your liking with sea salt and black pepper.

While the ragu’ is cooking, prepare the eggplants.
Wash the eggplants and slice lengthwise, 4-5mm thick. Place them in a colander and sprinkle them with salt, layering one on top of the other repeating the process until you’ve used them all. Cover the eggplant with a plate and something heavy so that the water drains out. Leave it for at least an hour.
After the hour is up, rinse under water to remove the salt and pat them dry, leaving them covered in paper towels so that they don’t get dark.

In the meantime, cut the mozzarella into slices and let it drain as you don’t want a watery mozzarella. Begin heating up a pan of olive oil to 3mm deep in a frying pan. Fry the slices of eggplant in batches then place them on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Once done frying all the eggplant start preparing the eggs and flour. Get two separate plates, one being for the flower and the other for the eggs (lightly beaten). One by one dust each slice with flour (shake of excess) then dip it in the egg, then fry again and drain on absorbent paper. Repeat this process as you are frying.

 

  • TIP 1: We recommend starting this process the day before.
  • TIP 2: If you have any leftovers, they are also great to create some involtini. Just roll a slice of fried eggplant with mozzarella and basil, close it with a toothpick with some tomato on the top and place it in the oven for 5-10 mins. Delicious!
    Once you have finished frying all the eggplant and your ragu’ is ready, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Spoon a little bit of ragu’ into your baking dish, covering the surface. Top with a layer of eggplant, scatter some slices of mozzarella with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and some basil. Cover with tomato then repeat the process until you’ve used your ingredients, your last layer being made of eggplant covered with the ragu’ and parmesan.
    Bake in the oven for about 20 – 30mins or until golden and bubbling. Finally, add some fresh basil and serve.
  • TIP 3: The parmigiana di melanzane is best eaten the day after at room temperature

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