A few years ago, my Italian friend brought around some of her mama’s eggplant parmigiana as she had extra, and she had barely driven down my street when I called her, practically shouting “HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THIS SECRET INGREDIENT?”
It was an eggplant parmigiana just like mine, but there was a taste twist I just couldn’t place. She was going to tell me this flavour anomaly or die.
Fortunately for me she was like “oh it’s pecorino”, like no biggie. Straight out the gate.
PECORINO, MY FRIENDS.
Nonna uses pecorino AS WELL as all the other cheeses and suddenly all was right in my world. I was eating this eggplant parmigiana practically once a week and on toasted sandwiches for lunch besides. I became obsessed. I wanted to know where Nonna bought her cheese, who sold her the eggplant, what was in her sauce? Could I come live with her? I could pass for Italian no sweat (but I’d probably have to start dyeing my hair).
This eggplant parmigiana is pretty next level. You’re gonna love it. Even if you don’t like eggplant.
- 2 large eggplants, cut into discs about 1cm thick
- Olive oil
- 1-2 large eggs
- 2 cups regular breadcrumbs
- 500ml tomato sauce (I use two tins of whole tomatoes simmered with 2-3 garlic cloves and a chopped onion, plenty of salt, pepper, butter, good olive oil, and a pinch of sugar for about an hour, and then blended smooth, but ready-made is fine)
- 2 cups grated tasty cheese or sharp cheddar
- 1 cup grated parmesan-style cheese
- 1 cup grated pecorino
- Working in a production line, coat the eggplant slices in beaten egg, then in breadcrumbs. You can gussy up the breadcrumbs with dried herbs, salt, pepper, whatever you like
- Fry in a good amount of olive oil in a medium-hot frying pan until golden on each side.
- Preheat oven to 200C
- Layer the eggplant with the sauce and cheese in a baking dish large enough to fit all your slices (it’s a bit like tetris but a few gaps won’t kill ya) in this order: a little bit of sauce, a layer of eggplant, more sauce, 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat, finishing with sauce and the last 1/2 cheese on top. There should be two layers.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until the eggplant is cooked through and the sauce/cheese is bubbling and hot.