melanzane alla parmigiana - eggplant parmigiana

Note, I only use organic produce.Aside from the benefit of eating produce untainted by chemicals, there definitely is a difference - a full-bodied flavor, the way they should taste!

Now that we are approaching autumn, take advantage while you still can of this wonderful season of tomatoes and eggplant!

This is a very delicious, not too heavy version of eggplant parmigiana:

2 large, firm eggplants

some olive oil

1 red or yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, very finely sliced

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried

about 2 lbs of fresh ripe tomatoes (about 5 medium to large size tomatoes) - heirloom tomatoes have the best flavor - chopped

a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

freshly ground black pepper (you can use some salt to taste as well, but I don't and it still is scrumptious)

a bunch of fresh basil leaves, julienne style chopped

1/2 cup or more of you want, of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

1 1/2 cup of dried breadcrumbs or panko

1 5oz ball of fresh mozzarella cheese in brine, cut in 1/2" slices

a 12" x 8" earthenware baking dish

1. Remove the stems from the eggplants and slice into 1/4 inch thick slices, leaving the skin on. Heat a large, wide frying pan (non-stick or cast iron) on medium heat and add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Place as many eggplant slices that will fit in the pan in one layer and fry on each side until golden, about 5 minutes per side. Have a plate ready with a layer of paper towels handy nearby. When the eggplant slices are golden, remove from the pan with a wide plastic, metal or wooden spatula, place on paper towels to absorb oil. Fry the next batch of slices the same way, place on paper towels, until you have fried all the slices.

2. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add about 1 tablespoon of oil. When hot, add the onion then garlic and saute for about 8 to 10 minutes, when the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and oregano. Cover the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes. Then stir in the apple cider vinegar, pepper (and salt if you wish) and chopped basil.

3.Now put in the baking dish first a small layer of the tomato sauce, then a single layer of the fried eggplant slices, a layer of a few mozzarella slices then a sprinkle of Parmesan/Pecorino cheese. Continue to alternate these layers until you have used up the ingredients. The top layer should be covered with a few slices of the mozzarella.

Your breadcrumbs will be especially delicious if you saute them in a pan in a little bit of olive oil until they are nice and golden. Sprinkle them over the top of the Parmesan/Pecorino. Place the dish in the oven and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour, when it is golden, crisp and bubbling.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe from Jamie Oliver's book "Jamie's Italy".


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