The Best of Aubergines: Italian Parmigiana

Sicilian dish parmigiana is one of my favourite dishes, if not the favourite dish, starring one of my favourite  vegetables – the aubergine! With its layers of soft, smoky aubergine that melts in the mouth, slices of mozzarella and tomato sauce, parmigiana is an absolute star dish! Simple, yet stunning, and showcasing the best of the seasonal ingredients, this is my entry for Eating with the Seasons: September. I know, I know, I’ve already cooked with aubergine for Eating with the Seasons, but hey – aubergine is in season! 😀

My parmigiana is very simple, with few ingredients, and this is just the way I like it. I grill my aubergines (hence the smokiness from the previous paragraph), rather than fry them, which is traditional; I use a simple tomato sauce, with a touch of fresh basil. That’s it. That’s my secret. Not that you need many secrets with a combination of flavours as perfect as this.

 

Parmigiana with

 

Aubergines

 

SOURCE: Can’t remember. My variation of a few versions

PREPARATION TIME: 5 – 10 min

COOKING TIME: about 1 h

CUISINE: Italian (Sicilian)

SERVES: 3 – 4

 

INGREDIENTS:

I. For grilled aubergines

1 large aubergine

a little olive oil

salt and pepper

II. For the tomato sauce

a little olive oil

1/2 yellow onion

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 tin tomatoes (I like the Napolina brand), or 400 g fresh tomatoes

a pinch of sugar

a handful of fresh basil

III. Cheese

1 packet of mozzarella, sliced

some grated parmesan for topping

 

IMG_6683

 

METHOD:

I. Grilled Aubergines

  • Cut the aubergines into either round slices, or diagonally. (Round is prettier!)
  • Season with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. Try and use a brush here. It really makes your life easier, and the aubergines drink up less oil.
  • Grill the aubergine slices until soft and golden on both sides.

II. Tomato sauce

  • While the aubergines are cooking on the grill, gently cook the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft and translucent. (I sometimes skip the onion, and use only garlic)
  • Add the tomatoes, a small pinch of sugar and the seasoning, and cook for 5 – 10 min for a fresh-tasting tomato sauce, or longer if you prefer a richer tomatoey flavour.
  • Just before assembling the dish, put in a handful of fresh basil into the sauce and stir.

III. Assembling the dish

  • Put a layer of grilled aubergines at the bottom of a heatproof dish, top with mozzarella, and then tomato sauce. (I use an oval ceramic Le Creuset 24 cm baking dish for this purpose, which has the capacity of 1.1l.) Continue like this until you run out of aubergines, finishing off with a layer of mozzarella, sprinkled with parmesan on top.
  • Bake on 200 C or so for about 20 – 30 min, or until the top is nicely golden, and the cheese melted.

Serve with a salad and some garlic bread to mop up the juices.  

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Other aubergine recipes at Maninas:

Ajvar – aubergine and red pepper relish V

This lovely relish is probably the most popular condiment of the former Yugoslavia.

Indian Aubergine Pate – Baigan Bharta  

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