This wonderful, rich and luscious vegetable dish is layered like a lasagna, and always tastes so much better the day after you’ve made it! Although the name of this dish might suggest that the dish comes from the fair city of Parma, this is confusing because the origins of the dish actually lie in and around Naples. I was first taught how to make the dish in the very traditional Neapolitan way—which calls specifically for long, oblong eggplants—in the town of Poistano at the home of one of the region’s most highly respected gastronomes.
This recipe is the traditional and classic version using eggplants, but you can also make it with zucchini, potatoes, artichoke bases, or a combination of any of those. You can griddle or bake the eggplant slices instead of frying them if you are worried about the finished dish becoming too greasy. Because eggplants can contain bitter juices, which might spoil the overall flavor of the dish, I recommend that you salt the sliced eggplants before cooking, as explained in step 3 of this recipe.
“The taste of basil, parmesan and olive oil, the smell of garlic frying with sage and rosemary, bring back the brilliant light and pure primary colours, with images of Italy and feelings of joy and enchantment.”
© 2008 Valentina Harris. All rights reserved.