Recipe Melanzane alla Parmigiana – (Sliced Aubergines, layered between crushed tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and finished off with grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese then baked in the oven)
I confess that this is a mixture of my own recipe, Valentina Harris’ recipe and one of Jamie Oliver’s recipe. I choose not to salt and drain my Aubergine slices, and prefer brushing them with oil and grilling them, rather than frying them in oil. They are not so soggy and oily, rather more golden brown and crispy at the edges.
- 3 Fat Aubergines
- 3 tbsp extra virgin Olive Oil
- 2 x 400g tins of good-quality Plum Tomatoes
- 2 cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A good slug of Sherry vinegar or Wine Vinegar
- 150 g of Buffalo Mozzarella - cut into thin slices
- 100g (3 1/2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
- Handful of Fresh Basil Leaves, shredded
- Jamie Oliver likes to top the dish with 2 handfuls of dried breadcrumbs, and some Oregano, gently swished in olive oil.
- Normal gas or electric oven - preheat to 200°C (400°F). Wood-Fired oven - make sure the temperature is down to approx. 180°/190°C (375°F) - it's fiercer than ordinary ovens. AGA - put the shelf on the floor of the top-right roasting oven. Brush the oven dish with a little of the olive oil.
- Wash the Aubergines and slice off the ends. Slice the remainder into 1 cm (1/2 inch) even slices. Dry with kitchen paper. Switch on the grill pan to medium. Lightly brush the slices with a bit of the oil and place on the grill (or on a hot griddle). Grill on one side until golden, turn over, brush with oil and grill or griddle again until golden brown and gently crispy around the edges.
- Put a bit of oil in a pan, and very gently fry the garlic slices. Don't let it burn. Add the tins of tomatoes, break up with a fork. Add the vinegar and simmer for a few minutes - season to taste.
- Take the oiled baking dish - for the Wood-fired oven, make sure the dish is suitably heat proof. I love the Tierra Negra dishes for this - they are unbeatable. Spoon in a layer of the tomato sauce mixture, add a layer of the Aubergine slices, then a layer of the Buffalo Mozzarella slices, another layer of the tomato sauce, a sprinkling of the grated cheese and a few bits of torn Basil leaves. Repeat these layers until the dish is almost full, then finish off with a thick layer of the tomato sauce, lots of grated cheese and more Basil.
- The optional extra - the breadcrumbs and oregano, can be sprinkled on the top. I didn't do this when I cooked it in my Wood-Fired oven (in case the breadcrumbs burnt) but it sounds great.
- For electric and gas, and the AGA, bake for 30 minutes. For the Wood-Fired Oven, make sure the logs and embers are not roaring, more grey-coloured and gentle, and no more than 180/190°C - place the baking dish just inside the oven, on the floor, and cook for approx. 20 minutes, turning around every so often.
* Oven Time: 25/30 minutes (15/20 minutes in Wood-Fired Oven)
We ate our Melanzane alla Parmigiana as part of our Italian Lamb meal, but normally this is substantial enough to be a full meal, eaten with some crusty bread to mop up all those gorgeous juices. Hope you enjoy it.