Since my husband didn’t use Parmigiano, it wouldn’t be right to call this dish Eggplant Parmigiana but its roots come from this classic Southern Italian dish. Instead of Parmigiano, we used cotija, a grated Mexican cheese that works well as a substitute. I give this a 10 out of 10 and urge everyone to try it. It’s worth the effort!
Large eggplants (4-5)
Ham or prosciutto cotto (we used honey baked ham)
Cotija or parmigiano
For the red sauce:
Passata (tomato base sauce or tomato purée)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Peperoncini (2-3, to taste)
Coarse sea salt
1 ) Slice eggplant into medium-wide slices.
2 ) Salt eggplant and drain in colander to shed water.
3 ) Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and broil. You can also fry but baking it this way is healthier!)
4 ) In the meantime, make the red sauce. I think making the red sauce rather on relying on bottled sauce is key so don’t skimp on this step! In a large pot, pour in 2 bottles of passata or enough to make a jar of sauce.
5 ) In the pot, add coarse sea salt, crushed garlic, fresh basil, one stick or rosemary, and a dash of red wine. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes.
6 ) Once the eggplant slices are cooked, set aside and start layering in a large baking pan.
7 ) Spoon a thin layer of red sauce at the bottom.
8 ) Then, layer eggplant slices until it fills the pan.
9 ) Sprinkle cotija over the eggplant
10 ) Add a layer of ham until it covers the pan
11 ) Add another layer of red sauce and repeat until you reach the top of the pan. Leave some room to sprinkle a thin layer of bread crumbs.
12 ) Bake for approximately 40 minutes.
This was truly a spectacular dish…so incredible that my husband and I both put it in our top 10 favorites. (Of course this theoretical “top 10” list does seem to change quite often and is highly influenced by the most recent dish).
For finance-minded readers out there, it’s a relatively cheap recipe, too, with a high yield. The ingredients costed approximately $14 and it will be enough for at least 6 meals total ($2.33 per meal). We had extra sauce and leftover ham so the estimate is a little on the high side.