Gennaro Contaldo's pumpkin parmigiana recipe
Parmigiana was originally a dish made with aubergines from southern Italy, namely Campania and Sicily, says Gennaro Contaldo.
“Whereas aubergines are abundant during the summer, pumpkin is plentiful during the colder season, especially in rural locations where this autumnal squash provided necessary nutrition for families and so was used in a variety of dishes,” he explains.
Parmigiana di zucca
1 x 1.4kg pumpkin (you need approx. 1kg prepped weight)
3–4 eggs plain flour, for dusting
Abundant vegetable oil, for deep-frying
2 balls of mozzarella cheese (each about 125g), drained and roughly chopped
75g grated Parmesan cheese
For the tomato sauce:
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
6 basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. First make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive in a saucepan, add the onion and fry over a medium heat for about five minutes, then add the tomatoes, basil leaves and some salt to taste. Leave to simmer over a gentle heat for about 25 minutes until thickened.
2. In the meantime, peel the pumpkin, cut it in half, then into quarters, remove the seeds and then cut into slices about five-millimetres thick. Lightly beat the eggs in a shallow dish with a little salt and pepper. Dust the pumpkin slices with flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the beaten egg.
3. Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a deep frying pan until hot, then add the pumpkin slices (you may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan) and deep-fry for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas mark 6.
5. Line an ovenproof dish with a little of the tomato sauce, then place some pumpkin slices over the top, sprinkle with a little black pepper, dot around some mozzarella, sprinkle over some grated Parmesan and top with some more tomato sauce. Continue making layers like these until you have finished all the ingredients, ending with a final sprinkling of mozzarella and grated Parmesan.
6. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and has taken on a golden brown colour. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Gennaro’s Cucina: Hearty Money-Saving Meals From An Italian Kitchen by Gennaro Contaldo is published by Pavilion Books, priced £25. Photography by David Loftus. Available now.