Eggplants parmesan is a typical recipe of Southern Italy, and is made of eggplants, mozzarella cheese or provola cheese, basil, tomato, and Parmesan cheese. There are several versions of eggplants parmesan, somebody fries the eggplants, somebody grills them, and somebody coats them into flour or egg before frying them. Anyway, this course is really delicious! It can be presented as a single course, accompanied by a nice piece of bread, or as a second course. Here I propose you the Neapolitan variant, with the strictly fried eggplants whose cooking will be finished in the oven, and therefore you will need long eggplants, to be layered in a baking tray with a bit of basil, the provola cheese, the tomato puree and the grated Parmesan cheese.
First of all, prepare the sauce: pour the tomato puree into a pot with oil and a clove of garlic and add salt. Cook for at least 20 minutes and add some fresh basil leaves. Wash and dry the eggplants, remove the ends and cut thin slices of about 4-5mm (1). In a frying pan heat up the peanut oil and when it is boiling fry the eggplants (2), little at a time. After a few minutes, you can drain them on oil-absorbing cooking paper (3).
Begin to place the eggplants in the frying pan: on the bottom pour a ladle of tomato puree, place the first layer of eggplants (4), add other tomato puree, the basil, the provola cheese and the grated Parmesan cheese (5). Proceed in the same way with the other layers, placing the eggplants first horizontally and then vertically, until you finish all the ingredients, covering the last layer as well. At this point bake your eggplants parmesan at 200° C for 40 minutes, and take it out of the oven (6) when the surface will look good and well colored.
Before frying the eggplants, I recommend, once you have cut them, to put them in a bowl and sprinkle them with a bit of salt. Then place over them a plate with a weight, and let them excrete water for at least an hour. In this way, the eggplants will release all the bitter water and the frying will be much dryer.
If you do not have the provola cheese you can use the fiordilatte cheese or the caciocavallo cheese. I do not recommend the mozzarella cheese because it releases too much milk during the cooking.
Eggplant parmesan is a tasty second course that is traditionally prepared in Southern Italy, especially in Sicily and Campania. It seems that the origin of this course dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Arabs imported the eggplants in Sicily, and that it spread there in a simple version consisting of fried eggplants and pecorino cheese. It also seems that the name of this course (“parmigiana” in Italian) comes from the Sicilian term "parmiciane", a term that indicates the wooden boards of the shutters and that recalls the way the eggplants are placed next to the others in the baking tray, just like the wooden boards.