Parmigiana di melanzane in crosta (bread filled with aubergine Parmigiana) - Sicilia
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The deliciously familiar layers of aubergine married with cheese and tangy tomato sauce were conveniently encased in a soft, slightly sweet bread reminiscent of childhood packed lunches. Being on holiday in Sicily and being able to eat aubergine Parmigiana with one hand while driving was a complete revelation. I decided to try to replicate the recipe and was very happy with the results. This is perfect for school or work lunches, road trips, picnics or anytime really.
If you want a healthier version, you can grill the aubergine instead of frying it.
Recipe type: Starter (Antipasto), First course (Primo)
Cuisine: Sicilia
Serves: 8 to 10
Bread dough:
  • 575 grams flour
  • 10 grams salt
  • 6 grams fresh yeast (3 grams dry yeast)
  • 65 grams olive oil
  • 340 grams milk
  • 400 grams biga (made with 200 grams flour, 200 grams water and 2.5 gramsyeast - see method here)
  • 1 largeaubergine(500 grams)
  • 300 gms skinned plumtomatoes, drain, deseed, and chop (can use tinned)
  • 9 leaves basil
  • ½ red onion, trim end, skin, and finely chop
  • 35 grams plain flour
  • 150 mls olive oil for frying
  • 200 gramsmozzarella, tear into thumb sized pieces, and strain
  • 40 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grate
  • 1 egg, hard-boil, shell, and slice (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  1. Trim the stem and slice the aubergine lengthwise into 5 mm thick slices. If the aubergine has large seeds, sprinkle it with 2 teaspoons of the salt and leave in a colander over a bowl to drain for 1 to 2 hours.
Dough method:
  1. Place the flour, biga, milk, oil, salt and yeast into a bowl.
  2. If using a mixer, add the dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients together on low for 3 minutes until it all comes together. If doing by hand, mix the ingredients together for 15 minutes. Cover the dough with cling film and let sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Grease a worktop with some oil.
  4. Place the dough in the middle.
  5. Pull one side of the dough and fold it a third of the way across.
  6. Turn the dough around and fold the opposite end over top of the folded dough.
  7. Turn the dough 90 degrees and begin folding the other sides.
  8. Turn the dough over and roll it around to form a ball.
  9. Place the dough in an oiled bowl.
  10. Cover the bowl with cling film and let it sit for 90 minutes.
  1. Place the tomato, 4 basil leaves, and the onion in a sauce pan.
  2. Heat the sauce pan over medium heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Puree the sauce with a food mill or blend in a blender or with a hand blender.
  4. Heat the oven to 175 C. Place a wire rack over top of a baking tray. Place the aubergine in a kitchen towel and squeeze dry.
  5. Dredge the aubergine in the flour to coat lightly. Heat a frying pan with olive oil at 2 cm depth until when you sprinkle in a bit of flour, bubbles form immediately. Ensure that the oil is hot otherwise the aubergine will absorb the oil and become soggy and heavy. Turn when golden, about 2 minutes each side.
  6. Fry the aubergine in batches, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan or the aubergine will become heavy. Remove the aubergine when done to drain on the metal rack, preferably in a single layer. Let drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Divide the dough into two and roll them out to form two rectangles about 35 cm long.
  8. Layer the aubergine down the middle of each dough lengthwise. Drizzle the tomato sauce over.
  9. Top with the torn mozzarella. Sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top.
  10. Grab one side of the dough and fold over the entire filling.
  11. Repeat with the other side, pressing to close.
  12. Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. A thermometer inserted into the thick part of the dough (without touching the filling) should read 93C (200F) when the dough is cooked.
For a softer dough, add a tray of hot water to the bottom of the oven while baking it.
Recipe by Living a Life in Colour at