Probably one of Naples most famous side dishes enjoyed over the world has been the source of controversy. Where did it originate from? Was it Naples, Parma or Sicily? Of probably Greek or Arabic in origin, the Parmesan cheese is not the origin of the name of the recipe, but possibly references to a Parmiciane a type of Sicilian shutter made with overlapping sticks or from a style of cooking made by overlapping vegetables in a baked dish that was popularized in Parma centuries ago.
1kg Large Aubergines
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Finely Chopped Garlic Clove
2kg Ripe Tomatoes
10g Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
Several Large Basil Leaves
Cut the aubergines into thick slices and liberally sprinkle with salt on a board, and cover for an hour. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels to ensure the salt and excess water has been drawn out. On a low heat, gently fry the aubergines for a few minutes, either side, remove with a slotted spoon, pat dry to remove excess oil and set aside. Repeat until all the aubergine slices have been cooked. Be careful not to overheat the pan, as the aubergines will start to absorb the oil, and you will end up with slimy aubergines.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Make a simple passata by adding a little olive oil, chopped garlic, tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes.
In a greased baking dish, arrange in alternate layers the aubergine, mozzarella slices, and passata. Press each layer down before commencing the second layer. Finish off with a layer of sauce and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 40 minutes, and once cooked, garnish with some fresh torn basil leaves. Buon appetito!