this parma is no parmie | the happiest recipe

parmigiana
parmigiana

Mr. Meow alleges digestive woes every time he consumes a vegetarian meal. Apparently, it is impossible to tame the carnivore inside. I can almost visualise you figuratively patting him on the back for this ‘manly’ stance. I have a number of friends who constantly shame vegetarians to new levels of ignominy. Vegans curry even less favour. Although I am hardly a vegetarian myself, I am always happy to chastise pro-meat friends. My diet does tend to feature plants rather heavily whether or not I have Mr Meow’s approval.

Imagine my surprise then when a certain nondescript vegetable dish invited uncharacteristic praise from Mr Meow. It is unbelievably delicious, even if I do say so myself (and my independence on this matter is questionable).

Eggplants were aplenty at the local grocer the other week and with the bitter cold we have been experiencing in Melbourne, I dreamed up a comfort dish to use this underappreciated vegetable and ward off the chills. It is so simple in terms of ingredient and requires so little by way of effort that it is almost unbelievable that it is so tasty.

This eggplant parmigiana features zucchini too and a wonderful crunchy topping containing a surprise ingredient (it’s not breadcrumbs)! Of course, the best two things about this dish are it is Banting-friendly and has oodles of cheese!

Aussies will get the reference to the pub meal – chicken parma. This clearly isn’t it.

Eggplant and Zucchini Parmigianaserves 4-6 as a main

You will need

  • 2 large, firm eggplants
  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • ¼ cup olive oil + extra for drizzling
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 3 sticks celery, diced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle passata (ensure it is sugar-free) or 7-8 fresh tomatoes, chopped or pureed
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a large handful of fresh basil leaves, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 250g mozarella, shredded (I am not shy to use 300g+)
    parmigiana
    parmigiana

    parmigiana
    parmigiana

Topping

  • ½ cup medium macadamia meal (you can make some by roughly blitzing raw macadamias in a food processor)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup grated parmesan

    crunchy topping
    crunchy topping

How to

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C fan forced (or 180°C).
  2. Wash and pat dry the eggplant and zucchini then slice evenly lengthways approximately 0.5cm thick. Lay out onto lined baking trays without overlapping. Mine took up about 4 trays.

    eggplant and zucchini prep
    eggplant and zucchini prep
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes or until they start to soften and turn golden brown. Set aside.

    eggplant and zucchini ready for the oven
    eggplant and zucchini ready for the oven
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Gently heat the olive oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan. Add the onion, carrot and celery and saute until soft then stir in the garlic and continue cooking for another minute. The mixture should be translucent by now.
    mirepoix
    mirepoix
    mirepoix saute
    mirepoix saute

    garlic to mirepoix
    garlic to mirepoix
  5. Add the passata (or tomatoes if using) and mix well. Allow to cook until the sauce comes to a boil then turn down the heat and add the bay leaves. Cover partially to prevent splattering and let the sauce bubble and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
    add passata
    add passata
    bay leaves
    bay leaves

    oregano
    oregano
  6. Make the topping – in a small bowl, combine the three ingredients until well mixed. Set aside.

    crunchy topping
    crunchy topping
  7. Once the tomato sauce has cooked it will darken in colour and develop a sheen from the oil. At this point, add the dried oregano and season well. Cook for a further 5 minutes to infuse well then turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaves, discard. Stir in the basil.

    stir basil into passata
    stir basil into passata
  8. Preheat the oven again to 180°C fan forced.
  9. In a large baking dish (I use two glazed terracota dishes), smear a dollop of the tomato sauce at the bottom of the dish. Then carefully arrange some cooked eggplant and zucchini slices in a layer. Top with a smear of tomato sauce and sprinkle some mozarella. Repeat until all zucchini, eggplant, sauce and cheese are used up. You may finish with a top layer of cheese, sauce or vegetable – this doesn’t matter too much.
    smear bottom of baking dish
    smear bottom of baking dish
    layer up
    layer up

    layer up
    layer up
  10. Evenly sprinkle all the macadamia topping over the layered dish and then bake the parmigiana for about 20 minutes or until the topping is a lovely golden brown.

    final layer
    final layer
  11. Serve with a salad of mixed greens tossed with classic vinaigrette. I love the crunch and bitterness of raddichio to counter the relative sweetness of the tomatoes.
    Enjoy!
eggplant and zucchini parmigiana
eggplant and zucchini parmigiana

Make it and I dare you to resist eating the whole thing by yourself in one sitting!

If you make this, please share your version with the tag #mGmeats

this parma is no parmie | the happiest recipe

17 thoughts on “this parma is no parmie | the happiest recipe

  1. It is yummy looking. I have tried a version of this without the zucchini. I remember the good old days when I got home at a decent hour, had Saturdays off and invited people over for dinners and slumber parties. Thanks for the memories. I’m glad Mr Meow loved your vegetarian meal. x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You do love entertaining don’t you, SB? Showing care and affection through a shared meal is the ultimate expression of emotion for me.
      Your dinner parties sound like such fun. I hope you get to host some more of them soon – and not just because I would love to be at one end of your table.
      Here is to fond memories and having spare time 🍷🍷 xx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you both so kindly.
      Rob, I had to look up what summer squash is, never having cooked with it or eaten it myself. It appears to be the same family and the carb content is low.
      The recipe is intended to be flexible and forgiving so I see no reason why not to use summer squash as long as it cooks/softens similarly.
      I couldn’t comment on the taste but would you care to be our guinea pig and report back? I would love to know how it works out.
      Or you could go with just the eggplant. All the best!

      Like

  2. Beautiful photography. Your vegetable chopping skill is mind blowing and the dish looks so yummy ….Sad part is that I lack in the department of Patience. So mostly have to satisfy myself with Restaurant food.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What sort of diet do you follow Hildegerd? Lentils and some vegetables can be a great source of protein. Do you consume eggs?
      You could try two of my recipes – dal (lentils) and Ethiopian chicken curry without the chicken (make with eggs and potatoes only).
      Have you consulted with your doctor about your dietary preferences?

      Like

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