Any Sicilian woman or man who is self-respecting can smell freshly baked Pamigiana before even looking at it. How can you describe the sensation of the fresh-baked Pamigiana, with its crispy crust and layers of fried aubergines that are sunk in fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, or caciocavallo? Here’s the Sicilian Parmigiana, ladies and gentlemen! You can have one-dish meals, an appetizer, or a side dish. Parmigiana can be served hot, cold, or even warm (that allows for you to better appreciate each flavor), and is a beloved dish of Sicilian cooking. It is a traditional recipe that every southern family treasures and passes down to their children.
We could also learn more about the history of this cooking style by visiting the sites of Naples, Sicily, and Parma.
The theory that eggplants were brought to Sicily from India in the 15th century is sufficient for us to believe this dish can be considered Sicilian. Another theory states that Parmigiana is derived from the Sicilian word Parmiciana, which refers to a set of wooden slats that form the shutters of the windows. These slats are meant to recall the layers of aubergines, seasonings, and other elements of this delicious dish.
To dispel any doubts about the possible Emilian origin of our Parmigiana, the Accademia Della Crusca (the most important research institute of the Italian language), states that it has nothing to do the parmesan. The original recipe actually uses Sicilian Pecorino instead of parmesan.
This dish can be enjoyed regardless of where it originated. It can also be eaten in any season due to its main ingredient, which can also grow in greenhouses.
Here is the classic recipe with basil leaves. You can add some hard-boiled eggs to make it even more delicious.
Photo: Fabio Cavasenna
Difficulty Level MediumServings 8 persons
- 1,5 kg oval black eggplants
- 1,4 l tomato sauce
- 500 g mozzarella cheese
- 150 g parmesan cheese
- 1/2 of a yellow onion
- Extra-virgin olive oils are available if required
- Black pepper is a must
- Some basil leaves
- Salt as needed
- Peanut oil is required (for frying).
Wash the aubergines and dry them. Use a large chef’s knife to cut the top and bottom of each eggplant. Next, cut thin slices along the length (4-5mm). Salt the slices and place them in a colander to drain any liquid. To increase the pressure, place a plate over the slices and add a weight.
While the cheese is still warm, cut it into small pieces and drain it.
In a large saucepan, heat a little olive oil. Sauté the chopped onions until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in the tomato sauce. Season with salt. Let it simmer for 40 minutes. Once the sauce is done, add the chopped basil leaves.
To remove excess moisture, dry the eggplant slices using paper towels. Then fry them in plenty of oil on medium heat. Then add the slices one at a time to the hot oil. Turn the slices on both sides and fry until they are lightly golden. Drain them on paper towels.