Originally published in Catalyst Magazine.
Ever wanted to cook like a nonna? Specifically, my nonna?
Now’s your chance!
You will need:
- 2 large eggplants, or 5 to 6 small ones.
(Note: can be substituted for zucchini if you like. We used both!)
- Grated Parmesan & Mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Canola oil
- 3 eggs
For the sauce:
(You can use your own recipe, or buy your own sauce – whichever is easiest for you. This is the way nonna does it.)
- 1kg tomatoes
- 1 cups water
- 1-2 onions
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- Bicarb soda
- Wash and peel the tomatoes. Then, fry the onion/s, until lightly brown.
- Place the tomatoes in a pot with the water, and add a pinch of bicarb soda.
(Note: If the tomatoes are fresh, you won’t need the bicarb.)
- Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the tomatoes.
Add the onion/s if they’re ready, and a dash of basil.
- Let it sit on medium heat for about an hour and a half, or until the oil begins to rise.
Stir with a wooden spoon every 15 minutes or so.
Nonna: “More cook, more taste good!”
To put it all together…
- Slice the eggplants.
Not too thick, but not too thin either – about a finger’s width.
- Place the sliced eggplants in a strainer or two (depending on how many slices you have), and wash them.
- Place a paper towel and a face-down plate over the washed eggplant inside the strainer/s, and let sit for about 15 minutes – to absorb the moisture.
- Fill a pan about a quarter full with canola oil.
Let sit on high heat.
- Crack the three eggs into a bowl.
Add salt and pepper, and a dash of milk.
Beat with a fork until yellow.
- Pour the breadcrumbs into a separate bowl.
- Dip the sliced eggplant into the egg, then coat in breadcrumbs.
Place into pan to fry until golden brown, then place on a plate to the side.
(If you’ve given up and decided you just want to make eggplant fritters, feel free to stop here!)
- Spread the sauce on the bottom of a baking tray, then cover the bottom layer of the tray in eggplant slices.
- Cover the slices with another layer of sauce, then put the mozzarella and parmesan on top.
- Repeat – like lasagne. (We made 2 layers worth.)Preheat oven to 190C/170C (fan-forced/conventional).
- Place tray on top shelf. They’ll only take about 15 minutes.
Nonna: “If it comes good – that’s the recipe!”
Images by me. Cover illustration by Ying Wang.