When thinking about Australian food you may think about Vegemite, Lamingtons, Pavlovas and Anzac biscuits and not this delicious Eggplant Parmigiana. When it comes to the main meal, however, there is nothing more iconic than a good old fashioned “Parmi”. While a Parmigiana (1) may not be particularly “Australian” Parmi’s have certainly cemented their position as a cultural meal being one of the most popular dishes served at most pubs and restaurants around the country.
The origin of the “Mellenzana all Parmigiana” is however debatable. According to some, it originated in the northern Italian city of Parma – hence the name, which means “In the style of Parma.” Others say the dish came out of Southern Italy where eggplant is grown widely. Most early Italian immigrants also came from Southern Italy, so it would make sense that they brought the recipe over with them. Today, Chicken Parmigiana often has its name simplified to Chicken Parmesan – referring to the delicate cheese made in and around the province of Parma. Interestingly, “Parmesan” is actually the French simplification of Parmigiana. The cheese became popular among the French nobility in the 1500s. It’s uncertain if the French had an influence on the eventual classic, but it is clear that Chicken Parmigiana is truly a global dish.
Traditionally speaking, Parmigiana’s are fried chicken schnitzels topped with a tasty tomato sauce and copious amounts of cheese… needless to say, not the healthiest of meals. Not to worry though, as we have you covered with our healthified version of this well-loved, national treasure. You will love our Eggplant Parmigiana which is a vegan and gluten-free version, it has all the same elements and amazing flavours – even the fussiest of eaters will love our take on this classic Aussie dish.
- 2 med Eggplant (unpeeled)
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 lg Onion peeled and finely diced
- 2 Garlic cloves minced
- 3 cup Canned tomatoes diced
- 1 tsp Dried oregano
- 2 tbsp Parsley (fresh) finely diced
- 1/8 tsp Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 2/3 cup Dry gluten free breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup Vegan friendly cheese finely grated - preferably a hard variety like parmesan
- 2 tbsp Lemon zest
- 2 tbsp Chives finely chopped
- Lightly greased a 12x12 baking dish then set aside. Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Slice the eggplant into 8 even slices (lengthways), approximately 1 ½ cm thick. Lay in an even layer on a wired rack and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a fry pan over medium to high heat. Add the onions and garlic, sauté for 5 minutes, or until onion is tender.
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper and bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook for approximately 25 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by half. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf.
- In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, lemon zest, chives, salt and pepper, mix together and set aside.
- Return to the slices of eggplant and pat dry using a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Press down firmly to remove any excess moisture.
- Brush the eggplant slices with the olive oil on each side. Place on grill rack on a baking sheet and grill under the oven grill 4 inches from heat for approximately 3 minutes on each side.
- Arrange eggplant slices in an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Spoon over the tomato mixture and sprinkle with the cheese and bread crumb mixture.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Divide among plates and serve immediately with a simple side salad of choice.