The Parmigiana is a real culinary microcosm, made up of a thousand variations and different measures depending on who prepares it. Gastronomically, Parmigiana means the preparation of eggplants with cheese and tomatoes. The recipe that is lost in Italy between 1600 and 1700. And that is closely linked to the first steps of culinary globalization made after the discovery of the Americas, to which is due the presence of tomatoes on tables all over the world. Tomato remains one of the basic elements of this recipe, while cheese varies according to the region in which the recipe is prepared.
A dish shared and disputed as origins from north to south of Italy: Emilia Romagna, Campania (Parmigiana ‘e mulignane) and Sicily (Parmiciana or Patrociane) with some variations of ingredients and methods of composition, but all absolutely fabulous!
In this case we tried to simplify and reproduce perhaps the simplest and most authentic Parmigiana with only tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and the inevitable fried eggplants.
First wash and cut by the long side the eggplants in regular slices, then put them to drain in a colander after having sprinkled every layer of coarse salt. Leave it for about an hour with a weight on it (for ex. put a dish with a pot full of water on it).
Squeeze and dry well the eggplant slices with a clean rag, then fry them in plenty of hot seed oil. Once well browned, drain them from the oil and put aside to dry from the exceeding oil.
Prepare, now, the tomato sauce: heat a few quantity of extra virgin olive oil in a pan (cover the whole bottom), add two peeled garlic cloves and wait until the oil begins to sizzle. Only then add the peeled tomatoes.
Season with a tuft of basil and salt. Cook on a moderate heat until the sauce is pretty thick.
Now that you have all the ingredients ready you just have to assemble the parmigiana: put some tomato sauce on the bottom of an oven dish, then make the first layer of eggplants and cover with the mozzarella cut into slices, parmesan and again some tomato sauce. Continue in this order until the ingredients are used up.
Top the parmigiana with a layer of eggplants covered with the sauce and grated Parmesan.
Bake it and let cook for 25 minutes at 180 ° C.
Once cooked, let the parmigiana rest for about a couple of hours, it will certainly be better!
How to choose the right eggplants: the perfect ones for this recipe are large, oval, with a nice dark and shiny violet color and, to the touch, they must be firm - neither too hard nor too soft.
Two variations to cook the eggplants: flour before fry to absorb the oil better, or grill them to have a light version, but not as good as the fried one!
How to conserve: you can keep the parmigiana in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap for 1-2 days. You can also freeze it cooked, perhaps already divided into portions, and cook directly into the oven without defrosting.