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Eggplants have so many different names in Italian dialect, for example mulignana, milinciana, pumo or petronciana, as they are the reigning queen of all the vegetables in Mediterranean cuisine and are perfect in any dish, whether fried, baked or grilled. Native to Asia, they were introduced in Sicily by the Arabs, and are now highly cultivated in the area. Their use then spread over the centuries until they become a widely used food in Italian cuisine, both as a basic ingredient to flavour delicious dishes, from Melanzana alla Parmigiana to Caponata (a sauce with various vegetables and featuring aubergines), to Pasta alla Norma. Here’s an original recipe you can make to enjoy them: a crisp and complete dish that is truly marvellous.
INGREDIENTS (6 servings)
3 long eggplants
1 scamorza cheese, cubed
evo oil q.s.
Parmesan cheese q.s.
Cut the eggplants into slices about haft inch thick, place them in layers in a perforated pan, sprinkle them with coarse salt and let them sit for 40 minutes to release as much water as possible. Then quickly rinse them under running water to remove the excess salt, and dry them well with paper towels. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and brush them with a little extra-virgin olive oil.
Bake at the convection oven setting at 375°F for 25 minutes, medium steam.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce: add a bit of olive oil and chopped shallots and cook everything together over low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the aubergines from the oven and place them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper or lightly oiled. Make the towers by starting with a larger slice of aubergine, then add some tomato sauce, a few cubes of scamorza cheese, a sprinkling of Parmigiano, and some chopped basil leaves. Continue making towers until you have finished all the ingredients. Place the dish at the oven for 15 minutes while it is off but still warm, which is the ideal amount of time for the scamorza cheese to melt. Or you can convection bake them at 190° with low steam for 5 minutes. Finish the dish by broiling for 2 minutes, until the cheese browns. Serve hot and garnish with a few fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of oil.