The only religion in the world to have its own sovereign nation, is Roman Catholicism. Vatican cuisine, being the foods of a tiny (less than one square mile) area in the midst of Italy, naturally has pretty much the exact same components as Italian cuisine. And yet, within this small country there are some special dishes that are favorites of the leaders of the world’s largest religion.
Certainly, the chefs within the Vatican can spare no expense when it comes to purchasing any ingredients, no matter what the cost. There are 2.3 billion Christians on the planet, about half of which are Roman Catholic. And many Catholics are religious about paying their tithes – 10% of their income – to the church. Assuming even half of them, with a mean annual income of say, $20,000, do pay their tithes, well … you are talking well over 10 trillion dollars a year!
So as far as monetary limits? … no, Vatican Cuisine has no budget restrictions whatsoever.
And the world’s smallest army, the Vatican’s armed forces known as the Swiss Guard, are well fed. It seems their favorite dish is Eggplant Parmesan, and we did some digging to come up with the right way to prepare it, Vatican Cuisine style.
There will be more to come of Vatican Cuisine recipes, but for right now, enjoy your trip to the Vatican, and have an ethnic food adventure, chowing down on the Swiss Guard’s favorite dish, just one of the many components of …
Swiss Guard Eggplant Parmesan
- 2 medium sized eggplants (about 2-1/4 pounds), cut lengthwise into ½” thick slices
- Kosher salt, as needed, and to taste
- 4-6) ½” thick slices artisan bread
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 tbsp. dried thyme
- 2 tbsp. freshly ground black peppercorns, or more, to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
- All-purpose flour for dredging
- 6 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp. whole milk
- Olive oil, as needed (use a good quality, extra-virgin olive oil)
- 7 cups Marinara Sauce
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, divided
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, ½ lb. sliced thin, ½ lb. shredded
- Some fresh parsley leaves, chopped fine, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Lay the eggplant slices out on baking sheets and sprinkle all over liberally with kosher salt. Set aside for about an hour to let the bitter juices seep from the eggplant. This step also tenderizes the eggplant.
- Now transfer the slices to a colander placed in the sink, and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.
- Transfer the slices to a working surface and blot dry with paper or cloth towels.
- Using a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1-1/2 tsp. salt, thyme, oregano, and at least 2 tbsp. black pepper (or more, to taste). Then add in enough flour to provide at least ½” thick layer in the bottom of a large, wide bottomed mixing bowl, and stir and blend the seasonings thoroughly throughout the flour.
- Arrange two large, wide bottomed bowls side by side on a work surface. Place a thick layer of the seasoned flour in one of the bowls, and the beaten eggs in the other.
- One by one, dredge the eggplant slices through the eggs, coating both sides, then dredge them through the flour, coating both sides well. Shake off any excess flour, and transfer the eggplant slices to a baking sheet.
- In a large straight-walled, heavy duty skillet, pour the oil to a depth of ½”. Heat the oil over medium high heat until it registers 400 degrees F on a deep frying thermometer. This step must be precise, as when you drop the eggplant slices into the oil, it will lower the cooking temperature to the desired 375 degrees F.
- Working in whatever sized batches your skillet allows, fry all the eggplant slices, turning once, until nice and golden brown—usually about 3 minutes will do it. Use tongs to transfer the cooked slices to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and season some more, to taste, with salt and pepper.
- Now lightly oil a 13” long by 19” wide, by (minimum) 3” deep baking or casserole dish. Use very good extra virgin olive oil.
- Slather on the bottom with a layer of about 1/5 of the marinara sauce, then a layer of eggplant slices. Then another 1/5 of the marinara, followed by a layer of bread slices, followed by 1/5 of the marinara sauce, followed by the ½ lb. of the thin sliced mozzarella cheese and ½ of the shredded Parmesan Reggiano. Then another layer of eggplant, another 1/5 of the marinara sauce, another layer of bread slices, and then the last 1/5 of the marinara sauce.
- Lastly, mix together the ½ lb. of the shredded Mozzarella and the remaining half of the Parmesan Reggiano, and layer that over the top of everything. Bake about 30 minutes, or until hot and just starting to brown. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, so it will set up and slice easily, then serve right away, while still nice and hot. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of parsley.
For more Vatican cuisine dishes, click on the recipes below:
Risotto al Vino Rosso (Risotto with Red Wine)
Tiramisù alla Ricotta (yellow pound cake with sweet ricotta cheese)
Contact us and/or Join Our Mailing List
(We respect your privacy. Subscribers’ info are not shared with anyone. EVER)