Parmigiana Melanzane

This is a classic construction dish. What I mean is, there isn’t a great deal to it – it’s just about putting down layers and bunging it in the oven.

Like many other layered, oven baked dishes, you can make it ahead. Not only that, I think that they actually work better if you make and re-heat them as the resting period gives it the chance to settle and firm-up so that the layers almost fuse together. It’s so disappointing to cut a lovingly made lasagne or parmigiana at the table, only to see the layers slide apart leaving a sloppy mass on the plates.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 3 aubergines
  • Basil, fresh
  • 250g mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 100g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 can tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method:

Cut the aubergines lengthways into slices about 1cm thick. Griddle or barbecue them in batches and then set them aside. You want to have nice charred lines on them to maximise flavour.

For the sauce, fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened and then add the tomatoes. Feel free to use fresh if you have them. Add oregano and then cook it until the sauce has thickened. Season and then add the vinegar to balance the sweetness and add the all-important little twang.

In a roughly 20cm x 20cm ovenproof dish, spread a thin layer of the sauce. Top this with a layer of griddled aubergine, scatter with a few fresh basil leaves and dot with slices of mozzarella. Repeat the layers and then finish with sauce and top with parmesan. One thing I forgot to do last time was to sprinkle a few breadcrumbs or pangrattata over the top to give it a little crunch.

Bake it in the oven at 180°C for around 30 minutes.

Red wine, green salad and bread (garlic bread perhaps..?)

Aubergine bake

The prettiest spin I’ve seen on this dish was a starter at a restaurant in London with a dear friend many years ago. The Parmigiana was constructed to order, with the aubergine cut into rounds and neatly stacked high on the plate.

Here’s an alternative way to serve it:

Eggplant Parmigiana

As with all my recipes, they are merely guides. Relax, mix it up, experiment and enjoy!

Aubergines Going Spare

I’ll admit that I didn’t think this one would turn out anything like as well as it did. Thankfully it was well worth the gamble.

Spare aubergine that I bought for no other reason other than it looked shiny – tick.

Block of puff pastry in the freezer – always.

This is a spin on a beautiful Spanish Aubergine Stew we adore devouring with tapas and a bottle of Rioja.

Eggplant Tart

Ingredients:

  • Puff Pastry
  • 1 small Aubergine (Eggplant)
  • ½ Courgette (Zucchini), sliced
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 2 Celery sticks, diced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • 300ml Passata
  • Olive Oil
  • Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • Gruyere

Method:

Cut the aubergine into 2cm cubes, fry it off in plenty of olive oil and set it aside.

In the same pan, soften the onion, celery, garlic and courgette.  Add the fried aubergine, passata and a scattering of oregano.  Season and cook it down until nicely thickened – it mustn’t be too wet as the pastry won’t be very happy with you.

Roll the pastry out to about 5mm thick, cut to the desired size and score borders.  Pile on the filling, top with grated gruyere cheese, and brush the edges with beaten egg.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 15 minutes.

Serve with rocket salad and perhaps that glass of Rioja.