I must admin, I have never had this dish before, because in my country we are used to eat eggplants only in a preserved salad with lots of vegetables. But then again, I love Italian food, so this recipe seemed like the perfect idea to serve this evening. Parmigiana is not actually the region where this dish comes from, instead it is believed to be originally from the south of Italy, where tomato and mozzarella are often used together in dishes.
You can eat it as it is, or add grilled chicken breast. Frying the eggplant slices first adds flavour to the finished dish, a distinctive aroma and taste, I absolutely adore. Don't add too much cheese; I have done this mistake and the food came up a bit too salty, so don't go crazy with the ingredients.
1. Thinly slice the eggplants lengthwise. Layer the slices in a large colander, sprinkling salt between each layer. Cover with a plastic foil and leave for 1 hour to extract the bitter juices. Rinse and pat the slices dry on both sides with paper towels. Coat the eggplant slices lightly with flour.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas 4 and grease with butter and flour a 32 x 20 cm shallow casserole or baking tray.
3. Heat 125 ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan. Quickly fry the eggplant in batches over moderately high heat until crisp and golden on both sides. Add more olive oil as needed, and drain well on paper towels as you remove each batch from the pan.
4. Make a slightly overlapping layer of eggplant slices over the base of the dish. Season with pepper. Spoon 4 tablespoons of passata over the eggplant and scatter a few pieces of basil on top. Sprinkle with some mozzarella, follower by some parmesan. Continue with the layering until you have used up all the ingredients.