Despite the name, which suggests a connection with the northern Italian town of Parma, Eggplant Parmigiana 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 (I use one from Vannella Cheese), 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. The anchovies in the tomato sauce aren’t essential, so leave them out if you prefer. In the glass I love fiano, a southern Italian varietal made into a rich yet refreshing wine by Out of Step Winery in Heathcote (Vic) – it complements the big flavours of this warming eggplant parmigiana so well!
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