Apparently Parmigiana does not derive its name from Parma, the place, or Parmiggiano, the cheese. Rather it refers to the slats in Persian blinds, whose construction is reminiscent to the way the aubergine slices are piled up in this wonderful veggie dish.
Traditionally the aubergine slices are fried, but I have gone for a healthier version which is extremely tasty as well, in which the aubergines are grilled.
4 large Aubergines
1 Onion, Peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of Garlic, finely sliced
3 tins Tomatoes Polpa
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
Freshly ground Black Pepper
A handful of Basil Leaves
150g grated Parmesan Cheese
200 g shredded Cacciacavallo or fresh Mozzarella Balls
Sesame and Poppy Seeds
Slice aubergines in 1 cm slices. Pile in a colander, sprinkling every layer with salt. Place a weight on a plate on top of the aubergines and put the colander in a bowl to catch the liquids. Leave for about an hour. This step serves to remove the bitter liquids from the seeds and is not necessary if the aubergines are young and don’t have too many seeds.
Meanwhile make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil and fry the garlic and onion on medium low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and the tomato puree and simmer until the sauce thickens, around 15 minutes. Add the basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper and a little wine vinegar (optional).
Meanwhile back to the aubergines. Rinse the slices from the salt and dry with paper towels. Grill in batches on both sides on a very hot griddle and set aside.
Now we are ready to assemble the Parmigiana. Preheat oven to 2oo°c. Drizzle some olive oil on the base of the baking pan. Spread a bit of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with parmesan and cover with a layer of aubergine slices placed next to each other. Repeat these layers until the pan is full, topping with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan and torn pieces of the Cacciacavallo or Mozzarella.I also like to add some seeds, in this case sesame and poppy seeds, to give it a bit of a twist.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
3 Onions chopped
3 Carrots sliced diagonally
3 celery sticks chopped
1 head Broccoli
4 small potatoes scrubbed, cut in half
100g Barley rinsed
1 small chilli (deseeded if you don’t want it very spicy)
1 litre Water
2 tsp coarse Sea Salt
1 tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
Sweat the onions, carrots and celery in a little olive oi for 5 minutes. Meanwhile cut the broccoli into small florets and set aside. Add the stalk of the broccoli, chili and the potatoes to the pot for another couple of minutes. Add the boiled water, the salt and the barley and simmer for 45 minutes making sure the barley is tender. Remove the stalks and add the florets and pumpkin seeds, simmering for another 10 minutes. Serve with grated parmesan
500g Black Eyed Beans soaked overnight and cooked till tender (usually around 1 hour)
1 Large Squash
1 Large Sweet Potato
1 Red Pepper chopped
6 Onions thinly sliced
3 Cloves Garlic chopped coarsely
4cm Ginger Root
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
2 Bay Leaves
500ml Vegetable Stock
2 tsp Hot Chilli Oil
1 Tin Tomatoes Polpa
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 180°c
Peel squash and sweet potato and cut into bite-sized chunks. In a baking tray mix with a little oil and season with salt and pepper, ground coriander and ground ginger. Bake for around 30 minutes, stirring once half way through, until they start to speckle with gold.
Meanwhile saute the onions, garlic, pepper, bay leaf and chili oil and grate the ginger. When it starts to get fragrant ( a couple of minutes) add the stock and simmer for 40 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes cooking for a further 25 minutes.
Add the squash and sweet potato and simmer for 5 minutes.
Finally stir in the beans and the spinach, simmering until the spinach wilts and the flavours blend, around 10 minutes.
This is one of those dishes that taste even better the next day as the flavours blend so keep any leftovers.