This isn’t that eggplant parmesan, the combination of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese layered between fried eggplant slices from the south of Italy and beloved in America. That dish is completely unknown in Parma, the home of parmesan cheese. The story goes that this Sicilian dish was incorrectly named parmesan because Sicilian’s allegedly have a hard time pronouncing their “L”s and “paLmigiana” (name for shutters) became “parmigiana” with that pesky “L” absent. This version is slightly more refined, and equally as delicious.
Tortino di Melanzane- Little Eggplant Cake
- small saucepan
- Oven-proof casserole dish
- Large heavy skillet
- 3 large Eggs
- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
- 1¼ cups Heavy cream
- 2 cups All-purpose flour
- 1 cup Whole milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ⅛ tsp Ground nutmeg
- 2½ lb Eggplant, unpeeled, sliced into ¼-inch rounds
- 2 cups Extra virgin olive oil
- 2½ cups Classic Marinara sauce, homemade or store bought
- 6 oz Imported Fontina cheese, sliced thin
- Make Cream Sauces – In a bowl, blend together 3 eggs, ¾ cup Parmigiano cheese, and ½ cup cream. Cover and refrigerate.In a small saucepan, whisk ¼ cup milk and 1 tbsp flour until smooth. Stir in remaining ¾ cup milk and ⅔ cup cream. Heat over medium-high heat until sauce begins to bubble lightly. Keep stirring while it bubbles and thickens, about 3 minutes. Cool, season to taste, cover and refrigerate.
- Preparing Eggplant – The night before serving, lightly salt eggplant slices and arrange between several layers of paper towels. Weigh them down with a heavy cutting board or baking pan weighed down with cans.Heat about 1½-inches of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Oil should get hot but not yet smoking. Dredge eggplant slices in flour, shaking off any excess flour. Fry several slices at a time, 1½ minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and pat down tops to remove oil. Don't stack them.
- Assemble – Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly oil a 2½ quart ovenproof casserole dish. Have tomato sauce, cream sauces, fontina, and eggplant sauces nearby.Cover bottom of dish with a thin layer of cooked cream. Top that with half the eggplant slices in a single layer. Scatter ½ of Fontina slices over eggplant and then add half the tomato sauce over that. Spread ½ cheese-egg cream next. Add another round, in order, of eggplant, Fontina, cheese-egg cream, tomato sauce, and finally the remaining cooked cream. Sprinkle top with remaining Parmigiano cheese.
- Bake and Serve – Put casserole in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve, either on individual serving plates or right in the casserole dish.
- Tomato sauce can be frozen.
- Cream sauces can be made in advance and refrigerated 2-3 days before assembling torte.