Roberta Muir says: “Despite the name, which suggests a connection with the northern Italian town of Parma, this dish is typically southern Italian. It’s traditional to Naples and the surrounding countryside, which is famous for the delicate fresh mozzarella made from buffalo milk, and also popular in Calabria and Sicily. The name may derive from the inclusion of parmesan cheese (from the region around Parma), although various sources suggest that it is a corruption of either the Sicilian word for shutter or Persian … we may never know. But I do know that it’s a quick, easy, crowd pleaser that can be prepared in advance and baked when needed. It’s great served with a salad of soft green leaves such as butter lettuce.”
3 large eggplants, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
Salt flakes, to taste
2 mozzarella di bufala, sliced
1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
Salt flakes, to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
45g anchovies in olive oil
800g canned Italian tomatoes, chopped
12 basil leaves, torn
Preheat oven to 180°C. Place eggplant on oiled oven trays, brush generously with oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until well coloured.
Meanwhile, make Tomato Sauce: heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and a good pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stir in garlic and anchovies and cook for a further minute or so until well incorporated. Stir in tomatoes, mashing well with a wooden spoon to break them up, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until thickened. Stir basil through the Tomato sauce and place a little in the base of a baking dish, add a layer of eggplant, top with a layer of mozzarella, some parmesan cheese and more sauce. Continue layering until all ingredients are used, pressing down gently to ensure everything is well coated with sauce, and finishing with a layer of parmesan.
Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the top is well coloured.
Michael’s wine recommendation – CLICK HERE
I was fortunate to meet Roberta Muir when she visited Cape Town some years ago. Roberta Muir has managed Sydney Seafood School, Australia’s largest recreational cooking school, since 1997. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide and is a qualified cheese judge. She is the author of the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook (Penguin/Lantern, 2012) and 500 Cheeses (Quintet, 2010) and co-author of A Lombardian Cookbook with chef Alessandro Pavoni (Penguin/Lantern, 2015) and A Sardinian Cookbook with chef Giovanni Pilu (Penguin/Lantern, 2012). She also assisted chef Janni Kyritsis with his cookbook Wild Weed Pie (Penguin/Lantern, 2006). Her passion for food, wine and foreign cultures has led her on adventures in Europe, Africa, Turkey, North America and South East and Central Asia. In her spare time, she reviews restaurants, writes freelance food, wine and travel articles, is a keen cook and an enthusiastic diner. She lives in Sydney with her husband, photographer and fellow foodie, Franz Scheurer.
Do visit Roberta’s website and subscribe to Roberta’s newsletter. Click here.