Parmigiana. The quintessential pub meal. Whether or not you call it a parmy or a parma, this dish of delicious deep-fried crumbed meat (usually chicken) slathered with a rich tomato-sauce and cheese can be found in
nearly every pub in Australia. Seriously. I dare you to prove me wrong.
Our love for parmigiana knows no bounds. For the vegetarian, other substitutes have popped up. Eggplant, mushroom even. BUT did you know parmigiana is traditionally made with eggplant?! Cheers Wikipedia.
I originally made this for my younger sister who often visits for dinner at my place. She made plans for a Monday night which is #meatfreemonday in my household. So tough love, my meat-loving sister. No need to worry, she loved it!
By popular demand (you guys lost your shit when I posted this picture on Instagram), here is the recipe for my version of an eggplant parmigiana with a spicy tomato sauce.
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 5mm slices (not too thin, you want a bit of bite rather than a fried chip!)
- Tapioca flour (you can use rice flour)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup polenta
- Cayenne pepper
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- A few handfuls of rocket, to serve
- For the sauce:
- 400g can of diced tomatoes
- 1 can of water
- 1 zucchini, roughly chopped
- 1 red capsicum, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 onion, finely diced
- Several cloves of garlic, finely chopped (use as many, 1 per person is what you wanna start with)
- Fresh oregano, just a bunch of whatever fresh herbs you can get your hands on, otherwise dried is fine
- 1 fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
- Salt the eggplant for at least 15 minutes. This helps draw out the bitterness in eggplant. Rinse with running water and pat dry.
- Organise your workstation: a plate for the flour (seasoned with salt and pepper), a plate for the egg and a plate for the polenta (seasoned with cayenne pepper).
- Heat some oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Quickly fry off the garlic and onion until the onion is translucent. Pour in the rest of the sauce ingredients and cook for about 25-30 minutes until reduced. You want it to be quite thick and chunky as opposed to watery – no one likes soggy parmas.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep frypan or a wok. You want to add enough to shallow fry your eggplant parmies.
- With your little set up, dip each eggplant slice into the flour then the egg then the polenta and then shallow fry. Flipping after 2-3 minutes. I prefer to fry as I go. And then I throw each eggplant slice onto a plate with paper towel. Repeat for the rest of the eggplant.
- To serve, arrange on plate. Top with chunky tomato sauce and sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Season some rocket with salt and pepper and throw some on that plate. Deceptively healthy vegetarian meal ahoy! Serve immediately!
- The crunchy texture of polenta is a great crumb alternative for deep-frying. Go crazy with chicken and pork.
- Be careful when you shallow fry as the polenta has the potential to spit!
- I served about 5 slices for each person, if using a large eggplant you may end up with more than expected!