During late winter or early spring however, it isn't very ethical or environmentally friendly to be expecting to eat something which is quite unseasonal such as eggplant, and has obviously been shipped across the globe. Yet thoughts of CO2 emissions, and enivornmental catastrophe, didn't quite quench my urge. Yes the recent extreme weather hitting the eastern side of the US, and the extreme (2") snow in the UK is all my fault. I apologize. I purchased some Strawberries shipped in from Israel. Once.
But since life is all about compromises, I remembered that a great variation of Parmigiana is to create Parmigiana Di Zucchini (Courgette), to my taste it isn't quite the same quality, but it is not a distant second, and zucchini are easily grown in milder climates under glass so are available at less environmental cost to the planet, and less guilt for me. So that is what I used.
To those who don't know what Parmigiana is, Parmigiana is a method of baking previously fried slices of vegetable in a flour and egg coating, in layers, doused in a rich tomato sauce with inter-layer chunks of mozaeralla and generous amounts of freshly grated parmesan.
Parmigiana is scarily calorific, yet most Italians are not on diets so it isn't an issue. If you are on a diet, I would say still make this, just eat a little less of it. Parmigiana keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge, in fact it tastes better the day after, and can even be frozen very succesfully, so don't feel you have to over indulge all at once.
At this point I should clarify something, our dear cousins living across the pond in the US and living across the globe in Australia, have created some of their own variations of Italian Parmigiana. Namely Veal Parmigiana, and Chicken Parmigiana, essentially they are the same, in that they are cooked in the same manner as the original, and are certainly better examples of mutating Italian food, than say Pepperoni Pizza is. However they are not authentic Italian, despite being delicious. So if you are eating in a resturaunt claiming to be producing authentic Italian food, feel free to correct them!
1 cup flour
4 eggs, gently beaten
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
salt and pepper to season
700-800ml of cooked tomato sauce use any recipe, for example I have one here.
2 Mozaralla balls (average sized ones, palm sized) torn into small pieces
Reggiano Parmigiano (Parmesan) Cheese
-First cut the ends off your zucchini, and slice them into 1-2cm thick slices. The number of slices you need will depend on the baking dish you are using. Generally I put them in to create a layer, and then work from that.
-Next in two seperate plates, add the flour, and add the beaten eggs. Now dip a few slices into first the flour, and then the egg, before shallow frying in a pan with the vegetable oil. Don't add all the vegetable oil at once, add a little at the time, as they do soak it slightly.
-Once browned on both sides, remove season with salt and pepper, and set to one side. Repeat process until they are all nicely browned.
-In your baking dish, add a little of the sauce, and spread over the bottom, now add a layer of the fried zucchini. On top of this layer add more sauce, and add a fair few chunks of the mozarella, finish with a sprinkle of parmesan. Repeat until you have around 4 or 5 layers.
-On the final layer, be more generous with the sauce, mozarella and the parmesan then bake in the oven for around 30 mins at Gas 7 until golden brown, or slightly over. Eventually you will have something looking like the below, only probably better.
-Important!! Allow the dish to cool before attempting to cut a piece out. It is really hugely beneficial to allow the parmigiana to cool, or else you will end up with the below. Tasty slop!
This can be kept in the fridge for a few days, and actually it tastes better the in the following days, as the flavours all combine. So if your planning a picnic or similar, it can easily be made in advance.